Rajar results - Q4 2015: Detailed analysis from Carat's radio experts


The Q4 2015 RAJAR results show listener numbers continuing to grow - here our radio experts take a close look at the stats.

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Radio listening remains high this quarter with listener numbers continuing to grow with 90% of the UK population tuning in to the radio every week, at an average of 21 hours and 4 minutes per week.

Commercial radio overtakes BBC for the first time in 15 years.

Commercial radio reaches 35.1m listeners up 2.2% YoY, whilst BBC reaches 34.9m listeners. However BBC are still ahead in terms of share in listening with 52.8% compared to commercial radio listening share at 44.3%.

Digital listening continues to grow in this RAJAR period. 41.7% of all radio listening is via a digital platform and 56% of the population are tuning into digital radio every week.

National Market

Top 10 commercial stations - Reach (000s) and YoY performance (%):

  1. Heart Network: 9.1m (+1.3%)
  2. Capital Network: 7.5m (+4.8%)
  3. Classic FM: 5.5m (-0.9%)
  4. Kiss Network: 5.3m (+9.9%)
  5. Smooth Radio Network: 4.8m (+1.6%)
  6. Absolute Radio Network: 4.3m (+12.7%)
  7. Magic Network: 3.3m (+21.1%)
  8. TalkSPORT: 3m (+1.9%)
  9. LBC Network: 1.4m (8.4%)
  10. Radio X Network: 1.2m (n/a)

Global Radio reach 22.4m listeners each week and Bauer reach 16.4m listeners.

The main news for this quarter is Radio X’s results, which have been highly anticipated. Overall reach is up 30% YoY, however we must take into account the fact that this quarter's figures are also based on the last months of XFM. Listening hours are up 49% YoY.

Capital Network has seen a small growth in both reach and hours YoY, however these figures include Capital Liverpool which was still branded Juice FM during this period. When looking at Capital Network excluding Liverpool, they have strong figures YoY. Hitting 7.28m listeners per week compared to 7.1m last year, overall a 0.77% increase QoQ.

Heart Network has no major changes, with average hours down slightly but overall listening up just a touch. It will be interesting to see what impact the introduction of Heart Extra has for Global once this launches in February.

Absolute Radio has been a success with a 24% growth in reach from the previous year now hitting 4.3m weekly listeners. Absolute London is up 17% YoY also, listening hours are down for the Absolute Radio Network QoQ, however remaining strong it seems, as they are still 13% up on the year.

Smooth Radio Network shows some good figures for Q4, hours remaining flat but listening is up 1.5% YoY. LBC also has good results YoY in terms of reach as they are now 8% up on Q4 2014. Hours remain flat, similar to Smooth.

Kisstory’s figures show reach is up 33% on 2014, Kisstory has been the main driver of Kiss reporting a 9% increase on reach YoY where they now have 5.3m listeners per week. Average listening hours remain flat across the quarter and the year.

TalkSPORT has seen a decrease of almost 12% on listening hours QoQ. This means overall they are down 9.4% YoY, however the good news is their 3m weekly listeners have grown by 1.9% to 3.06m YoY.

UCB1 is a newcomer this quarter, a Christian radio station recording 236,000 in its first RAJAR. Currently they do not advertise on the service however these figures may cause that to change in the near future.


Top 10 all digital stations – Reach (000s) and YoY performance (%):

  1. BBC 6 Music: 2.2m (+5.7%)
  2. BBC Radio 4 Extra: 2.1m (+22.7%)
  3. Absolute 80s: 1.6m (+11.7%)
  4. Kisstory: 1.4m (+33.5%)
  5. Five Live Sports Extra: 1.2 (+88%)
  6. Planet Rock: 1.1m (+13.2%)
  7. 1Xtra From The BBC: 0.98m (-11.5%)
  8. Heat: 0.95m (+1%)
  9. Smooth Extra: 0.9m (0%)
  10. Kerrang!: 0.87m (-3.8%)

Digital radio listening continues to go from strength to strength this RAJAR quarter, with weekly reach now sitting at 56% (up 1% QoQ). 30 million people now tune into digitally each week, with the share of all radio listening via digital platforms up 41.7% YoY (10% QoQ).

The DAB platform continues to post strong results, with share increasing by 9% YoY to 27.7% of all listening. Although DAB radio continues to be the most popular device, accounting for 66% of all digital listening, mobile listening continues to grow, up 20% YoY. 41% of adults now listen to the radio via tablet or mobile at least once a month.

BBC 6 music slides into the top position as the most popular digital only station by increasing listeners to 2.2m; up 6% YoY and overtaking sister station Radio 4 Extra by 100,000 listeners.

Dual Transmission: 5 major radio brands now have digital listening accounting for the majority of their listening:

  • Absolute Radio Network at 78%
  • Magic at 56%
  • Kiss at 55%
  • Gold at 54%
  • BBC Radio 5 live at 56%

Overall, a strong quarter for digital radio. An increase in listeners with mobile listening demonstrating popularity across the platform.


Top 5 London commercial stations – Reach (000s) and YoY performance (%):

  1. Capital London: 2.077m (+11.1%)
  2. Kiss 100: 2.015m (+5.4%)
  3. Magic 105.4: 1.921m (+9.0%)
  4. Heart 106.2: 1.804m (+1.2%)
  5. Classic FM: 1.382m (-0.6%)
  6. LBC 97.3: 1.040m (-4.7%)
  7. Absolute Radio London: 0.812m (+17%)
  8. Smooth Radio London: 0.8m (+5.3%)
  9. Capital XTRA London: 0.569m (+38.4%)
  10. Radio X London: 0.517m (+17.5%)

Capital regain top spot for commercial London stations. This follows on from a close battle in Q3, where Kiss overtook Capital with only 3,000 more listeners. Capital London now reaches 62,000 more listeners in London compared to Kiss 100. Magic continue to keep the third commercial London spot with weekly listeners up 8.96%, followed by Heart and Classic.

Global record several strong performances across London stations. Capital Xtra is up 38% YoY with Radio X adding on another 10,000 listeners (results are based on XFM). Also LBC London News almost doubles it’s audience at 489,000 listeners up a massive 92.5% YoY.

London Breakfast Shows

Top 5 London commercial breakfast stations – Reach (000s) and YoY performance (%):

  1. Capital FM: 1.08m (+14.8%)
  2. Magic 105.4: 0.93m (+5.8%)
  3. Kiss 100: 0.87m (+0.1%)
  4. Heart 106.2: 0.74m (+8.8%)
  5. LBC 97.3: 0.69m (-2.1%)
  6. Classic FM: 0.43m (+4.6%)
  7. Smooth London: 0.39m (+7%)
  8. Radio X London: 0.3m (+21.5%)
  9. Capital Xtra: 0.23m (47.7%)
  10. Gold London: 0.14m (-5.7%)

Almost all London breakfast shows see an increase in weekly listeners with Global continuing to see strong results. Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon, on Capital, remain the popular choice for Londoners in the morning with more than 1m listeners. Since the results Lisa Snowdon has left the breakfast show after 7 years so it will be interesting to see whether this has an effect in the next RAJAR.

Chris Moyles brings Radio X its best performance since 2007 with his new breakfast show up 35.7% compared to previously branded XFM YoY. Capital Xtra breakfast show also records a great performance YoY up 47%.

Bauer stations take the second and third place, with Magic up 5.8% YoY followed by trio Rickie, Melvin and Charlie on Kiss. They post a slight increase of 0.1% YoY.


Top 10 BBC stations – Reach (000s) and YoY performance (%):

  1. BBC Radio 2: 15.5m (+1.2%)
  2. BBC Radio 4: 11.3m (+2.6%)
  3. BBC Radio 1: 10.3m (-1%)
  4. BBC Radio 5 Live: 5.6m (-0.4%)
  5. BBC 6 Music: 2.2m (+5.7%)
  6. BBC Radio 4 Extra: 2.1m (+22.7%)
  7. BBC Radio 3: 2.05m (+1%)
  8. BBC World Service: 1.5m (+10.5%)
  9. BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: 1.2m (+88%)
  10. BBC 1 Xtra: 982k (-11.5%)

The BBC’s reign over commercial radio has come to an end as the juggernaut has eclipsed the BBC’s numbers - average weekly listeners reached a peak of 35.1 million in Q4 2015. This compared with the BBC’s dip in listening to 34.9 million, -0.5% QoQ. However the BBC have the majority share in listening with 52.8% compared to commercial radio listening share at 44.3%.

Radio 4 has shown marginal improvement on the previous quarter with an increase in reach of 1.1% taking it back over 11m listeners per week. BBC Radio 1 records a reach of 10.3m listeners, when including listeners aged 10 – 14 this increases to 11.3m. Nick Grimshaw’s breakfast show has seen an increase of more than 200,000 listeners – 6.37 million per week aged 10 and above - despite the slight 2.2% drop QoQ overall for Radio 1. The figures should come as good news for BBC1 Radio who want to focus on younger audiences.

Radio 2 remains the biggest station in the UK with over 15m listeners per week with Chris Evans’ breakfast show pulling in 9.44m listeners each week which is slightly below the 9.42m listeners last quarter and 9.6m last year.

6 Music has regained its title as the BBC’s biggest digital station and, despite the drop on 5 Live, its sister station 5 Live Sports Extra continues to perform very well, with reach up a massive 88% YoY. However, digital-only station BBC Radio 1Xtra has seen a significant decline in listeners compared to the last quarter as 14.5% of listeners have turned over but 982,000 weekly listeners from the 1.15m have stayed.

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