RAJAR Q3 2019: Digital Radio listening on the up

Radio continues to attract 48.5 million adults or 88% of the adult (15+) UK population in the latest RAJAR results for Q3, 2019.

The total average number of weekly hours listened to radio for this Quarter is 989 million (down from over 1,000 million last quarter) and on average a listener tunes into 20.4 hours of Live Radio per week.

All BBC Radio’s weekly reach over the period was 33.45 million (34.08m last quarter and 34.29m last year) and a share of 49.4% (49.3% last quarter and 51.7% last year).

Audience growth has helped commercial radio achieve its biggest share of the market in more than 20 years, with a share of listening hours at 48.1%, up 5.3% year-on-year from 45.7%.

Siobhan Kenny, Radiocentre Chief Executive, said: “With radio continuing to hold the nation’s attention against increasing competition in the news and entertainment sectors, it’s great that commercial radio continues to grow audience.”

Digital listening share has increased to a new record of 56.8%, up from 52.4% in Q3 2018, boosted by the growth of listening online and via apps, and to digital listening in car and to national digital stations, according to RAJAR Q3 2019 data released today.

The most popular digital-only station is KISSTORY, increasing by 18.4% to reach a new record of 2.554 million listeners, followed by BBC 6 Music -the leading BBC digital-only station reaching 2.414 million listeners. BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra grew by 31.3% to reach a new record of 2.195 million listeners, to become the third-most-popular digital-only station.

Further commercial digital-only stations growing strongly year on year include Absolute 80s which grew by 3.5% to reach a new record of 1.824 million listeners; Heart 80s which increased by 23.2% to reach a new record of 1.672 million listeners; Mellow Magic which grew by 23.6% to reach 664,000 listeners; Virgin Radio which grew by 242% to reach 1.417 million listeners; and talkRADIO which grew by 56.7% to reach 409,000.

Overall digital listening grew by 24.1 million hours or 5% year on year. Listening via online and apps grew by 29.4 million hours (or by 30%) to now account for 13% of all listening and 23% of digital listening. Listening via DAB grew by 2 million hours (or by 0.5%) year on year to now account for 39.7% of all listening and 70% of digital listening. Listening via DTV declined by -7.3m million hours (or by -15%) year on year to now account for 4.2% of all listening and 7% of digital listening.

28% of adults now claim to own a voice-activated speaker, and listening online and via app in home is, for the second consecutive quarter, the fastest growing platform and location, increasing by 22.5 million hours (or by 33%) year on year.

Digital listening in-car reached a new record of 42.2%, growing by 15.2 million hours or 17.4% year on year. With 93% of new cars now coming with DAB as standard, the majority of in-car growth was to DAB which increased by 13.1 million hours or 15.5%. Listening online and via app in car is also becoming increasingly popular, accounting for 5.4million hours of listening and a reach of 2 million listeners.

Digital listening to national commercial stations grew by 28 million hours or 19% year on year, and listening via a digital platform accounts for 82% of all national commercial listening. The three most-popular commercial national digital-only stations – KISSTORY, Absolute 80s and Heart 80s – all recorded record audiences.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “Digital listening has grown to a new record of 56.8%, driven by three factors – the growth of listening via smart speakers and apps, the increased proportion of cars with DAB and the continued rise of national digital stations.

“28% of homes now have smart speakers which has helped boost listening hours online and via apps by nearly 30% year on year. Almost 40% of radio listening in cars is now on DAB, increasing digital listening hours in-car by over 15%. National digital stations continue to grow, in terms of number of stations and listening and the three leading commercial national digital stations – KISSTORY, Absolute 80s and Heart 80s – all recorded record audiences, as well BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra, which is now the third most popular digital station.”