RAJAR Q3 Results: Carat's in-depth analysis


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

Radio rajars analysis

Overall Summary

89% of the population tune in to radio every week which has increased by an estimate 320,000 adults YoY.

Commercial listening share has increased since the new digital multiplex to 45.8%, closing the gap between BBC and commercial radio.

Digital share is on the increase now at 45.5%. DAB is the highest contributor to this with a share of 32.3%, no doubt helped by the launch of the new digital multiplex back in March.

National / Digital

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

  1. Heart Network 9.1m (-0.5%)
  2. Capital Network 8.05m (+8.1%)
  3. Bauer City Network 6.9m (N/A)
  4. Kiss Network 5.4m (-0.06%)
  5. Classic FM 5.2m (-3.8%)                      
  6. Smooth Radio Network 4.7m (-2%)
  7. Absolute Radio Network 4.4m (+6.8%)
  8. Magic Network 3.6m (+7.2%)
  9. talkSPORT 2.8m (-9.4%)
  10. LBC Network 1.8m (+21.6%)

Top 10 Digital Only stations – Reach and YoY performance (%):

  1. Kisstory 1.6m (+23.3%)
  2. Absolute 80s 1.5m (-7.2%)
  3. Smooth Extra 1.1m (+15.1%)
  4. Planet Rock 1.1m (n/a)
  5. Heat 0.8m (-7.8%)
  6. Kerrang! 0.8m (-6.3%)
  7. The Hits 0.7m (-14.2%)
  8. Absolute Radio 90s 0.7m (+11.8%)
  9. Heart Extra 0.7m (n/a)
  10. Absolute Radio Classic Rock 0.6m (+10.8%)

This quarter has delivered some good news for many stations, especially those within the two major saleshouses with Capital (8.7m), Heart (9.6m), LBC (1.8m) and Radio X (1.3m) all achieving record reach levels for Global while, over at Bauer, Absolute Radio Network (4.5m) has also achieved record reach with the same honour also going to Christian O’Connell’s breakfast show (1.9m).

Q3/2016 also marks the second set of listening figures for a number of stations who launched on the new national digital multiplex earlier this year.

Unsurprisingly, as more people discover the station, talkRADIO has shown an increase with 80k new weekly listeners marking a 36% increase on the previous quarter.

talkSPORT 2 has shown a slight drop in reach quarter on quarter. However, as a station which almost acts as an overflow for content that doesn’t fit on talkSPORT, figures are likely to fluctuate as listeners dip in and out dependent on what content interests them. Similar patterns have been seen in the past with BBC 5 Live Sports Extra which operates in a similar way.

Absolute 80s’ reign as biggest digital-only commercial station has come to an end with another Bauer station, Kisstory, taking that top slot for the first time with 1.6m listeners. This is a massive 23% year on year increase (although not as massive as its 76% YoY increase in listening hours).

After some strong results in Q2, LBC has pushed on even further to a record level of 1.8m weekly listeners marking an increase of 22% year on year. While the station has lost 301k listeners in London there is a positive to be taken from this from an advertising perspective. This makes the station a more ‘national’ proposition compared to in the past when it was selling itself as a national station when in fact around 9 out of 10 listeners were based in London.

This quarter also marks the first set of RAJAR results for Heart’s digital only extension – Heart Extra. Listening figures of 664k mark a strong first set of results and further bolster the overall Heart Network.


Digital listening continues to head towards the 50% mark, now accounting for 45.5% of all radio listening, a slight growth from last quarter’s 45.3% figure. Interestingly, within the 15-24 and 35-44 age brackets, listening via digital methods (which includes DAB as well as streaming) now accounts for 50% of all radio listening.

Ownership of a DAB radio now stands at 31m adults, an increase of 7% year on year with listening via DAB accounting 32.3% of the digital total (DTV = 5.2%, Online/App listening = 8.0%).


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

  1. BBC Radio 2 15.1m   (-1.6%)
  2. BBC Radio 4 11.1m    (+4.2%)
  3. BBC Radio 1 9.9m      (-6.5%)
  4. BBC Radio 5 Live 5.5m      (-0.5%)
  5. BBC 6 Music 2.3m      (+7.0%)
  6. BBC Radio 4 Extra 2.0m      (-7.2%)
  7. BBC Radio 3 2.0m (-4.5%)
  8. BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra 1.6m (-7.3%)
  9. BBC World Service 1.5m (+1.7%)
  10. 1Xtra from the BBC 1.0m (-10.7%)

 The BBC’s total year on year hours have dropped by 2.9% compared to an increase of 4.4% for commercial radio for the same period.

As with nearly every set of recent RAJAR results, 6 Music provides one of the major success stories for the BBC with a record high of 2.3m listeners marking a 7% increase YoY.

BBC Asian Network, whilst showing a slight drop in reach on the quarter, has shown a 25% increase in YoY listening hours, by far the strongest performance of any of the national BBC stations.

BBC Radio 1 has increased in both reach (+4.4%) and hours (+5.0%) on the previous quarter but remains down on both for the year. Nick Grimshaw’s breakfast show has dropped 184k listeners.

Radio 2 has dropped slightly (-1.0%) in reach losing 154k in the quarter with Chris Evan’s show suffering a pretty hefty loss of 414k listeners although most radio stations would still love to have his 9.05m weekly reach!


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

  1. Capital London; 2,013m (-5.5%)
  2. Kiss London; 1,818m (-16.6%)
  3. Magic London; 1,804m (+7.14%)             
  4. Heart London; 1,683m (0%)      
  5. LBC 97.3; 0.991m (0%)
  6. Absolute London; 0.894m (0%)
  7. Smooth Radio London; 0.710m (0%)
  8. Capital Xtra London; 0.568m (+25%)
  9. Heart Four Counties; 0.559 (+8%)
  10. LBC London News; 0.464 (0%)
  11. Radio X London 0.378m (-25%)

Some breakfast shows have seen a small drop in listening. Absolute Radio has increased its weekly reach by nearly a third over the year.

Capital London maintains its strong position as the most popular London breakfast slot with 1.04 million listeners tuning in weekly (up 6.2% a year). Keeping its lead in London, Capital attracts a total average weekly audience of 2.01 million listeners (-3.5% year on year).

Magic London refreshes its figures with double-digit growth in Q3. Its weekly audience of 1.8 million was 10.5% up on Q2, and 5.4% up on the same period last year. Its improved listening figures meant it overtook Heart London, which had been the third largest station in last RAJAR (Q2, 2016). This was reflected in Magic London’s breakfast offering, which also managed to overtake Heart with 734,000 weekly listeners, (14% increase)

Heart continues to be the most popular breakfast station in London – and records an impressive 25.3% increase in weekly reach over the year.

Amongst smaller channels, Premier Christian Radio pulled in an extra 71.4% of listeners, compared with Q2 and nearly doubled its audience year on year: 72,000 people now tune in each week. Mi-Soul (First Radio's London DAB station) increased reach and listening quarter on quarter (+5.4% and +23.7% YoY respectively).


Radio rajars analysis
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