RAJAR figures for the first quarter of 2014 were released today so a good time to take a look at what has been happening in the world of radio.

 

Overview

 

More and more of us are tuning into radio. This isn’t surprising given the emotional and functional benefits of the medium. Radio isn’t just about letting you know what’s happening on the roads or giving you ideas for where to take the children this bank holiday weekend. Radio is seen as a friend. It’s a ‘talk with’ medium rather than a ‘talk at’ medium.

 

Since the same RAJAR period last year there has been approximately 800,000 more adults listening in to their favourite stations and when we look to see how people are listening, it’s obvious that digital platforms have played a key role in the increase, with weekly reach up by 4% year on year (YoY). 27.1 million people now tune in to radio via a digitally enabled receiver – DAB radio, digital TV and online – up from 26 million in quarter one 2013!

 

National stations

 

As reported every RAJAR, Global Radio UK continues to dominate the national stations and the key networks throughout the country. Global Radio now has an average weekly reach of 21.4 million. Due to the recent acquisition of Real and Smooth, the network was up 10.8% year on year.

 

Bauer Radio performed well in the latest results too which includes Bauer’s purchase of Absolute Radio. The radio group now attracts in excess of 10 million weekly listeners.
Not so good news over at the BBC who have posted some small declines quarter on quarter for Radio 4, Radio 1 and Radio 5 Live.

 

London

 

As is usual, Global’s Capital London came out on top in the first quarter of 2014 with an average weekly reach of 923,000, however the station recorded a significant -22.4% QoQ loss in weekly listeners, and -13.5% over the year.

 

While the network suffered elsewhere, with both Capital XTRA (-38.6% QoQ) and LBC News (-21.8% QoQ) down significantly, Heart London celebrated a 27.7% rise in weekly listeners over the quarter, and XFM London was up 15.5% QoQ.

 

Q1 saw mixed results for Bauer, with Magic London – which has changed time from 05.00-09.00 to 06.00-10.00 – up 9.3% over the quarter to record just under 900,000 weekly listeners, while the Kiss FM Breakfast show dropped -3% QoQ to take its weekly reach to just under 800,000.

 

Global’s Smooth Radio (London) celebrated the biggest quarterly increase, up an impressive 36.7% to take its weekly reach from 166,000 in Q4 2013 to 227,000 in Q1 2014.

 

Elsewhere, Total Absolute Radio Network (London) was up 17.4% QoQ, while BBC London was down -22.3% QoQ.

 

(We have sourced some of this information from MediaTel)

 

At Home

 

The recent acquisition by Global Radio of Real and Smooth will be giving us lots to talk about over the coming months. Global have already seen the benefit as a network by acquiring these stations as its network is up over 10% year on year. Impressive numbers.

 

Capital South Wales (now owned by Communicorp) took a massive drop in listeners in the last quarter. Dropping from 212,000 weekly listeners to 171,000 weekly listeners. It seems clear that the current formula isn’t working and hasn’t been for some time so it will be interesting to see what their new owners do to stop the hemorrhage of listeners from this station which has had a difficult couple of years trying to maintain its position in the marketplace.

 

Better news over at Nation Radio who added an extra 19,000 weekly listeners on the last quarter. They have always been clear about what they stand for. A no nonsense, all about the music, station. It’s working well.

 

The owners of Nation Radio, Town and Country Broadcasting (who own stations such as Bridge fm and Radio Pembrokeshire) have maintained their performance year on year entertaining 302,000 weekly listeners.

 

Smooth Radio South Wales (formerly Gold South Wales) has seen a small increase in listeners from 49,000 to 53,000 weekly listeners. Nice to see an AM station still pulling in new listeners. We’ve always enjoyed listening to this station at Hello Starling HQ and we’re keeping a close eye on what changes might be made as the rebrand from Gold to Smooth kicks in.

 

Heart Wales (formerly Real Radio Wales) added an additional 2,000 listeners onto their weekly reach taking total listeners to 493,000. It will take a few months to start seeing the impact that the rebrand to Heart will take but this license has always performed well and Heart’s track record on launching new stations has always been a strong one. We’re giving it some Heart in our office at the moment to get a feel for the sound of the station so we’ll keep you in the loop with any movements!

 

It is fair to say that this RAJAR has been an interesting one but we think that with the Global and Communicorp movements in this marketplace, there are some interesting and potentially exciting times ahead. The radio marketplace in Wales hasn’t been this changeable for some time and we’ll be sure to keep you abreast of all of the news as and when it happens!

 

If you have any questions about any of the above, you know what to do.

 

By James Robinson