Rajar Q2 Results: Carat's in-depth analysis


Carat’s Jerome Nichols, Flora Ballinger and Mike Wood round up the results from this quarter’s RAJAR report.

Mike Wood Mike Wood AV Manager Carat rajars radio advertising Radio


It's a fantastic set of results for commercial radio, as it reaches 35.9m of the UK population per week vs. BBC’s 34.9m. Commercial radio has reduced the share of listening gap recording 45.0%, up from 44.6% in Q1 2017.  BBC’s share of listening has dropped from 52.8% to 52.3% over the same period.  Overall 90.3% of the UK population listen for an average of 21 hours each week.  BBC radio continues to dominate the market with 52.3% share vs. commercial’s 45% share.


Top 10 National commercial stations – Reach and YoY performance (%):

  1. Heart Network – 8.7m (-2.7%)
  2. Capital Network – 8.1m (+2.6%)
  3. Classic FM – 5.8m (+4.9%)
  4. Kiss Network – 5.4m (-2.4%)
  5. Smooth Radio Network – 5.1m (+2.7%)
  6. Magic Network – 3.6m (n/a)
  7. TalkSPORT – 2.6m (-20.3%)
  8. Absolute Radio Network – 4.3m (+0.2%)
  9. LBC Network – 2.0m (+17.9%)
  10. Radio X - 1.4m (+17%)

The latest set of RAJAR results for the second quarter of the year has once again shown that Global have the monopoly of the national commercial station reach, increasing its share 0.6% to 20.6%. It is a testament to Global’s clear marketing strategies for each of their brands which have helped listeners to continue to choose their stations. They have 4 of the 5 top commercial radio stations in terms of weekly listeners: Heart, Capital, Classic and Smooth. The Global winners this quarter were LBC Network, Smooth Extra and Radio X (possibly due to some new presenters including the controversial Russell Brand).

Bauer’s listening share was up 1.8% QoQ but has decreased slightly YoY at the expense of Global by 0.8%. The station brand groups continue to perform strongly driven by the more niche digital stations following the fragmentation trend which continues to be a challenge for advertisers. Huge increases in reach were seen on Kisstory (+12.6% YoY) and Mellow Magic (+36.3% YoY), but this was more at the expense of the main national stations with Magic National decreasing 10.72% and Kiss Network down 2.4%. In spite of the slight YoY reach decrease on Kiss, it still stands firm in 4th place biggest national commercial station.

Over at First Radio, there were some clear station winners, demonstrating the power of local radio; Swansea has performed exceedingly well with Swansea Bay +50% YoY and Swansea Sound +37.5% YoY. Time FM is East Anglia is up +40% YoY, and Wire FM in Granada is up +36.36% YoY.

Wireless’s talkSPORT numbers are down YoY due to the hugely successful EUROs quarter last year. When the start of the football season commences this week for Championship and next week for Premiership, next quarters weekly reach numbers should increase back up to similar weights YoY. talkSPORT2 continues to eat into the talkSPORT reach numbers as listeners switch between the two based on the content they prefer.


Unsurprisingly, digital radio continues its rise.

More than 6 in 10 adults are currently listening to the radio via a digital platform. This takes the share of listening up 3.4% YOY to 48.7% in Q2 2017. That’s 1.5 million ADDITIONAL adults listening to digital radio since this time last year. All of these factors are boosting the reach of digital radio too, with it reaching 61.2% of the population every week. That’s 33 million pairs of ears.

Many factors are, of course, driving this upward trend, but hardware ownership is arguably in the front seat. 59.5% of all adults now own a DAB set at home, a whopping growth of just shy of 14% from this time in 2013. In an average week, digital listening accounts for 503 million hours; DAB has a 71% share of digital listening hours, digital TV 11% and online 18%. 

27% of all UK adults say they listen to radio via a mobile phone or tablet, with 9 million adults keeping their tunes to themselves by listening through earphones. This is very interesting when considering digital radio in an advertising context. The opportunity to speak to consumers on a personal level through their earphones opens numerous sensual doors to ensure the advertiser message is conveyed in the correct way.

In car digital listening hours have grown by 20% YoY and have reached a new record share of 29.7%, supported by over 700,000 new cars on UK roads with DAB digital radio as standard. In-Car listening on DAB has contributed to 38% of all digital listening growth.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music with a weekly reach of 2.23 million listeners, closely followed by BBC radio 4 Extra who draw in 2.09 million listeners every week.

On the commercial front, Kisstory is the most popular digital-only station with the throwback tune buster drawing in reach of 1.73 million weekly. Absolute 80s remain in the second spot with groove-givers drawing in 1.51 million hip-shakers tuning in every week.

Innovation continues within the digital radio space, and there’s little doubt that the rise will continue, giving our clients access to audiences in the right places, the right times and the right moments. New platforms are available for advertisers that operate within a different space than what we are used to. Amazon Echo and Google Home are driving audio consumption forward from this frontier with radio stations, streaming services and podcasts all popular whilst in the home. The advertising opportunities here are enormous, imagine an audio buy that enabled direct purchase during or after an ad. “Okay Google, book Eurostar tickets” – One thing is for sure, this is not far away at all.


Top 10 BBC Stations – Reach and YoY performance (%):

  1. BBC Radio 2 – 14.9m (-2.7%)
  2. BBC Radio 4 – 11.6m (+0.4%)
  3. BBC Radio 1 - 9.6m (+1.4%)
  4. BBC Radio 5 Live – 5.3m (-9.2%)
  5. BBC 6 Music – 2.2m (-1.4%)
  6. BBC Radio 4 Extra – 2.1m (+7.3%)
  7. BBC Radio 3 – 2.1m (-6.3%)
  8. BBC World Service – 1.6m (+9.6%)
  9. BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra – 1.2m (-4.9%)
  10. 1Xtra from the BBC – 1.0m (-4.5%)

The BBC has seen a bit of a mixed bag of results this quarter.

5Live saw a drop (-9.2%) in its YoY reach, however, during Q2 16 station will have benefited from a more dramatic end to the EPL season as well as Euro 2016. They can also potentially point to the fact that talkSPORT has also seen a YoY drop in listening. Unlike talkSPORT though, 5Live are not completely dedicated to sports, and other news talk stations are flourishing at the moment.  This includes the BBC’s own speech stations with Radio 4’s 0.4% increase in reach resulting in a new record and the World Service seeing a 9.6% increase YoY.

Within the BBC’s music services positive news is less easy to find, with Radio 1 being the only network music station to see a YoY reach increase (+1.4%). The Nick Grimshaw Breakfast Show also saw a YoY increase (+1.2%).

Radio 2’s Chris Evans saw a 5% drop in his weekly reach (which, if applied to his annual wage, would see a drop of £108k) and represents a sharper drop than the station overall (-2.7% reach YoY). Evans and Radio 2, however, still hold the title of most listened to breakfast show and station in the UK respectively.


Top 5 London stations – Reach and YoY performance (%):

  1. Capital London 2.3m (+2.1%)
  2. Kiss London 2.05m (-3.7%)
  3. Heart London 1.7m (-1.4%)
  4. Magic London 1.5m (-5.2%)
  5. LBC 1.4m (+9.2%)

Global’s national dominance is also reflected in the capital with 3 out of the top 5 stations belonging to the juggernaut.

After snatching the top spot last quarter, Capital London remains top dog as it remains the biggest commercial station in London whilst reaching a 13-year high! Capital also has the honour of having the most successful commercial breakfast show in London, pipping Kiss London to the post. However, both stations are down YoY taking almost 1.09m and 914k listeners respectively.

LBC continues to make leaps and bounds in listenership as numbers continue to rise in the wake of Brexit. There seems to be a new sense of interest in the world of politics in recent years as the country has visited the polls thrice in the last three years. The breakfast show with Nick Ferrari comes in third with 906k weekly listeners – and almost a 34% increase from last quarter’s figure of 678k.

Elsewhere, taking a rather large dip YoY is Bauer’s Absolute Radio which falls 16.7% to 637k and Gold which is down a massive 27% YoY to a 243k reach. On the other hand, Global stations Radio X and Smooth have made great strides in listenership, up by 7.7% and 12.7% YoY respectively.

Overall this is a great set of results for commercial radio and a poor set of results for the BBC.  Digital platforms are now the key drivers of audio listening growth, for which commercial stations are better setup to reap the rewards.


Our comments on the release of the RAJAR Q2 results appeared in Campaign and Mediatel on 03/08/17

Mike Wood Mike Wood AV Manager Carat rajars radio advertising Radio
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