RAJAR Q2 2019: London and national brands round-up

Zoe Ball has lost more than three quarters of a million listeners to her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, according to the latest audience research from RAJAR.

The show’s reach is down 781,000 quarter-on-quarter to 8.266m for the three months survey period up to the 23rd June 2019. In Q1/19 she had 9.047m listeners; in Q2/2018 Chris Evans reached 9.038m. Radio 2’s audience at breakfast is now the lowest its been since Q3/2010, when Evans was fairly new in the job.

Chris, meanwhile, has added 63,000 more listeners to his Virgin Radio breakfast show – now reaching 1,111,000 across the UK via the brand’s three digital radio stations (compared with 1,048,000 in Q1/19 which included some weeks where he hadn’t yet started). That helped Virgin Radio UK increase its overall reach as a station from 1.3m to 1.545m – a jump of 18% quarter on quarter.

Two new stations from Bauer make their debut in this RAJAR book – Scala Radio has posted a reach of 258,000 while Country Hits Radio – which isn’t on a national DAB multiplex but on a series of local multiplexes – begins life with 208,000. Greatest Hits Radio‘s first full figures show a reach of 715,000 (rising to 1.1m when you include the network of stations in Scotland that have the same format but have heritage names), while Hits Radio posts a national reach of 781,000 – that’s down 23k from this time last year.

Bauer Media‘s combined weekly reach is 18.1m, with digital listening for the group reaching a record high of 72%.

Global is celebrating its highest ever weekly reach (25.6m), hours (238m) and share (23.4%) as a group, with the country’s biggest four commercial radio brands being Heart (9.7m), Capital (8.2m), Smooth (5.7m) and Classic FM (5.6m). Kiss is 5th with 5.3m listeners. Bauer’s ‘Hits Radio Brand’ posts a reach of nearly 6.5m, but this includes both the Hits and Greatest Hits Networks as well as stations using heritage brand names and the new Country Hits Radio.

The new Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp, Vick Hope & Sonny Jay reaches 3.796m – that’s an increase from Q1/19 but a drop of 164,000 from a year ago when the shows were presented regionally. The national show only launched on 8th April, a week into the RAJAR fieldwork for Q2/19. The new national Heart Breakfast with Jamie & Amanda launched towards the end of the research period, so figures for their new show will be in the Q3/19 data, published in October.

BBC Radio 2‘s drop in breakfast audience affects the reach of the rest of the station too, with the overall listening figure falling 763,000 this quarter – from 15.356m to 14.593m. Ken Bruce now has the biggest show on the station, with a weekly average of 8.489m to his 9.30-12noon programme. Ken says: “After 34 years as a part of the BBC Radio 2 family, I’m astounded that the allure of my daily grumpy musings, coupled with PopMaster, continue to entertain. Many thanks to the long-suffering listeners.”

Radio 4 remains fairly constant year on year, but there is good annual growth for Radio 1 (up 327k to 9.563m), Radio 3 (up 120k to 2.028m), Radio 4 Extra (up 258k to 2.223m), 5 Live (up 509k to 5.242m), 5 Live Sports Extra (up 311k to 1.484m – highest in nearly 2 years) and 1Xtra (up 69k to 1.102m – highest since 2015)

Greg James posts his highest figures since taking over Radio 1 breakfast last summer – his Monday to Thursday show has 5.69m listeners aged 10+, compared with 5.44m last year. Dotty on 1Xtra’s figures are the best ever for the station’s breakfast show too – up 131k year on year to 509k for listeners over 10 years old.

At One Golden Square, there’s good annual growth for both Absolute 80s (up 16% to a record reach of 1.779m) and Absolute Radio 90s (up 10% year on year to 907k), but the 70s station has lost audience and the main Absolute Radio service is down 393,000 (15.4%) year on year to a reach of 2.151m.

KISSTORY‘s move from the SDL multiplex to Digital One has brought extra listeners – reach is up from 2.024m a year ago to a record high of 2.323m in Q2/19. KISSTORY is the biggest digital-only station in the UK, just edging both Radio 4 Extra and 6 Music by a few thousand. There’s growth for Kiss Fresh too, but the overall Kiss network is down 250k year on year to 5.379m.

The Magic brand’s reach is up 6% compared with a year ago, to 4.12m. This is helped by strong growth for Mellow Magic in particular (up 105k to 593k), as well as Magic Chilled (up 51k to a best-ever 355k) and Magic Soul (up 28k to 355k). Ronan Keating and Harriet Scott’s Magic breakfast show has added over 100,000 listeners to reach 1.3m (up 8.7% YoY)

Planet Rock is doing well too, up 167k from last year (16% increase) to a reach of 1.213m.

Nick Ferrari on LBC has a record 1.4m listeners across the UK – up nearly a quarter of a million in the past year. In London he has the number one commercial breakfast show for both hours and share, with a reach up 40k year on year to 755,000. Chris Moyles posts a record 931,000 listeners to his Radio X breakfast show – up from 859k a year ago. In London he now has 258,000 weekly listeners – up from 174k in Q2/18. Smooth London‘s breakfast show with Gary King is doing well too – up 85k year on year to 380,000.

Capital Xtra has posted its highest ever national reach, at 1.931m – up almost 10% (172,000 listeners) year on year.

And Classic FM’s More Music Breakfast with Tim Lihoreau and Moira Stuart has added 249,000 listeners in the past year, posting a 1.909m reach across the UK in Q2/19.

At Wireless, they’re celebrating more best-ever figures with a record 4.9m listeners and total hours of 31.7m to its national stations. As mentioned above. Chris Evans’ hours are up 18.9% quarter on quarter – to 5.35m a week. That’s helped Virgin Radio UK’s total hours top 10 million this quarter (up from 7.7m in Q1/19). The Virgin network overall – including digital stations Anthems and Chilled – attracts 1.67m weekly listeners and 11.02m hours. Chris Evans says: “Six months in, and we couldn’t be happier. Amazing guests, the best bands and certifiably the greatest listeners around.”

talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 reach a combined 3.3m, that’s up 4% from last year. talkSPORT 2’s 439,000 reach is a record for the digital-only station.

talkRADIO‘s 386,000 weekly reach (up 31% from a year ago) is also the highest since its return as a digital station in 2016, with record listening hours of 1.9m – that’s up 40% year on year.

Of the smaller national digital services, JACK Radio receives its second set of RAJAR data, and reports a rise of 40,000 listeners compared with Q1/19 – that’s up 47% from 85k to 125k. Union Jack increases as well – from 150k to 155k. The Arrow‘s figures are up 50% quarter on quarter, to 84k. There’s growth at Sunrise Radio – up from 330k a year ago to 372k.

London market

Big winners in London in the Q2/19 RAJARs are LBC London News (up 32.9% year on year to 598,000), Classic FM (up 21.1% from last year to 1.352m in London); Premier Christian Radio (up 20% year on year to a reach of 131,000); Gold (up 18.5% to 327,000) and Radio 3 (up 14.4% in the capital to 587k).

London’s biggest commercial station is Capital (1.834m), followed by Kiss (1.583m), Magic (1.456m), Heart (1.428m) and LBC (1.228m). Both Capital and Kiss have a bigger reach in London than Radio 1 does.

On share, LBC remains number one in London (6.4%), followed by Heart (4.5%), Capital (4.4%), Magic (3.8%), Kiss (2.8%) and Smooth (2.2%).

Kiss has lost nearly a quarter of its audience in London over the course of the year – down from 2.087m to 1.583m. Absolute Radio London is down 16% year on year to 729k, and Magic 105.4‘s audience in London is also down 12.7% over the 12 months – that’s just over 200,000 listeners.


Ashley Tabor OBE, Founder & Executive President of Global, said: “This is our strongest set of RAJAR results ever for Global, our biggest ever in terms of reach, hours and share. It is a true testament to the hard work of every Globaler. To now reach over 25.6m weekly listeners and for Heart, Capital, Smooth and Classic FM to be the top 4 commercial radio brands in the UK again is very special indeed. Heart retains its lead as the biggest commercial radio brand in the UK, with 9.7 million weekly listeners, and Heart 80s achieves its highest ever set of numbers. ‘The All New Capital Breakfast’ with Roman Kemp opens with a massive 3.8 million becoming, one of the top two commercial breakfast shows in the UK, second only to Heart. LBC’s performance is equally phenomenal with the station delivering its highest ever weekly reach, now at 2.4m across the UK, and Nick Ferrari also delivering his personal highest ever reach at 1.4m listeners. It goes without saying that I’m immensely proud of the Global team – their drive, focus, dedication and sheer hard work has truly reaped dividends.”

Dee Ford CBE, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “Our growth in digital listening has been fuelled by the launches of two brilliant new radio stations which perfectly reflect the fastest growing music genres in the UK. Scala Radio and Country Hits Radio are truly ground-breaking and thoroughly engaging. It’s also fantastic that our much loved KISSTORY has become the number one digital radio station. Investment in the Hits Radio Brand has been stepped up with the newly launched breakfast show on Hits Radio hosted by Fleur East, Greg and James – we’ll see its first figures next quarter.”

Wireless CEO Scott Taunton said: “This is a superlative set of results for Wireless, with records smashed across our national brands and for Wireless. Virgin Radio has delivered a second quarter of record reach and listening hours for both the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky and the station itself, which shows reach up 266% year-on-year. Chris and the team – including our partners at Sky – are continuing to set the pace in the breakfast slot. With the talkSPORT network and talkRADIO posting their highest ever RAJAR reach, our speech stations continue to deliver on our investment in sports rights and the best on-air talent. With a new tenant in No.10 and new Premier League packages which give us more live games than ever, we’re well set for the months ahead.”

James Purnell, Director of BBC Radio and Education, said: “With 34 million people tuning in each week, our stations and programmes continue to make a difference in the daily lives of our audiences. Our biggest radio stations are the most listened to in the UK and yet again we’ve seen how loyal listeners are with many millions of people tuning in each week. I’m delighted Radio 1 and 1Xtra proves time and again just how popular they are with listeners. I want our brilliant stations, programmes and podcasts to remain as relevant in people’s lives as listening habits continue to evolve. Already people are enjoying listening to us in different ways with a record 75 million downloads of Radio 4 programmes and podcasts this quarter as well as a record 7 million people listening live to our stations online and through apps.”

Ben Cooper, Controller BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network, said: “Record figures for Greg James’ Breakfast Show and fantastic results for Radio 1, as we continue to build our reach across all platforms and bring in new, younger audiences to the BBC.”

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3, said: “BBC Radio 3 encourages as many people as possible to explore experimental, boundary pushing programming, from classical, jazz, avant garde and world music to arts discussion , drama, poetry and slow radio through intelligent and adventurous content. It’s a compelling offer and that’s why we’ve seen audiences remain strong at over 2 million listeners, a 6% reach uplift to 2.03million year-on-year, a strong breakfast performance for our rivers focus this quarter with the highest figures since quarter 2, 2016 at 746k , and the highest overall Radio 3 station share since quarter 4, 2016 at 1.3%.”

JACK CEO Ian Walker said: “It’s in our DNA at JACK not to follow the traditional radio beliefs and formula, and to instead deliver something bold and new, that our listeners will love. This strategy has paid dividends again, with both national stations, Union JACK and JACK Radio, seeing an increase in both reach and hours, while the combined JACK network has doubled its reach in the last year, with an audience who are listening for longer than they ever have. This is only the starting point for us, with more and more exciting programming initiatives across our entire network set to follow.”