Record numbers tuning into UK commercial radio

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

Commercial radio has reported its highest ever audience of 36.1 million listeners according to new figures for Q1 2019 published by RAJAR, the body responsible for measuring radio audiences in the UK.

Commercial radio industry body, Radiocentre said there are now 1.7m more people listening to commercial radio stations than the BBC radio networks combined, its biggest ever lead over the corporation.

The latest RAJAR figures also found that 66% of the population listen to commercial radio stations each week and 89% to radio overall.

Total listening hours for commercial radio remain strong, up 1.6 per cent year-on-year, driven largely by the growth of national stations and brands.

“We are constantly reminded of the challenges that radio faces in a digital age, whether it is from new forms of listening or shifts in advertising”, said Radiocentre CEO, Siobhan Kenny. 

“But it’s clear from these figures that the investment from stations in talent, brands and great content is helping radio to continue to resonate with audiences in a big way”. 

The latest figures came during Radio Audio Week, a cross-industry initiative celebrating the best of UK radio and audio with a series of conferences, seminars and networking events.

Bauer Media success

Bauer Media Group, which owns a raft of commercial radio stations smashed the 70 per cent digital mark for the first time led by KISSTORY – No. 1 commercial digital station, Absolute 80s, Mellow Magic, Magic Chilled and Planet Rock.

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said, “This is a great set of results for commercial radio, digital product innovation is underpinning commercial radio’s highest ever reach. 

“The significant step up in Bauer’s lead in digital listening reflects our continued commitment to bringing listeners fresh, new, unique radio services complementing our powerful big brand portfolio – listeners love them, and so do our advertisers. 

“Our latest 2019 launches, Scala Radio and Country Hits Radio, will record their first set of figures next quarter.”

"Stunning" figures for Virgin Radio

Wireless Group, which owns talksSport and Virgin Radio, saw a “stunning” result for relaunched station Virgin Radio, which drew more than one million listeners a week to the Chris Evans breakfast show. The entire station was achieving around 480,000 listeners before Evans' show launched.

Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer for Wireless Group plc, said: “In what has been an exceptionally busy period for us with the launch of three new national radio stations and a summer of football including the European Championships, we are delighted to have delivered audience growth for talkSPORT and to see our efforts rewarded following the launch of talkSPORT 2, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio.”

“The return of the iconic Virgin Radio brand has seen a particularly impressive result with 409,000 listeners tuning in each week, which is very encouraging for such early days.”

“Wireless Group’s national portfolio now reaches more than 3.8million people every single week. We will continue to invest in talent and content for our stations, ensuring that we remain a popular choice for both new and existing listeners.”

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