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Commercial radio reach surpasses 50% as gulf with BBC widens

Commercial radio reach surpasses 50% as gulf with BBC widens
Fleur East: Hits Radio presenter

The latest Rajar figures have revealed commercial radio listening growing to an all-time high, the rise of smart speakers and decline in breakfast listening.

Over the last quarter, commercial radio’s combined share of listening grew to its highest ever level with 50.9%, the second quarter in a row this was higher than the BBC.

This is the first time commercial radio’s share of listening has been over 50%, having overtaken the BBC for share of listening for the first time last quarter.

Commercial radio’s weekly reach increased in the third quarter of 2022 by 1.4 million listeners year-on-year to a record 38.2 million listeners, which is 5.2 million listeners more than the BBC, up from 3.3 million in Q2 2022.

This round of quarterly Rajar audience data also marked the first time since pre-pandemic year-on-year comparisons were possible.

Rajar measures the number (in thousands) of the UK adult population who listen to a station for at least five minutes in the course of an average week. This quarter’s survey spans the three months leading up to 18 September.

Online radio listening on the up

Total online listening is up from 18% a year ago, to 24% in the latest figures.

Smart speaker listening has risen consistently over the last two quarters, now accounts for 13.4% of all radio listening, an increase from 10.8% in the previous quarter.

Read more on the digital radio market here

BBC Radio 2 still top for breakfast

BBC Radio 2 remained the UK’s most popular breakfast radio station with small growths in listenership versus last year (2.1%) and last quarter (1.3%) to 7.37 million.

The other top five breakfast stations included BBC Radio 4 with 5.92 million weekly listeners, BBC Radio 1 with 4.084 million, Global’s Heart with 3.63 million and Global’s Capital with 2.51 million.

Read more on the breakfast market here

Global top commercial radio brand

Global, the broadcaster of radio brands Heart, Capital and LBC, recorded weekly reach of 24 million in the last quarter, an increase of 0.4% quarter-on-quarter but a drop of 0.9% year-on-year.

The Bauer Media Audio network, the second-biggest commercial radio brand and owner of Absolute, Hits Radio Network and KISS, had a weekly reach of 19.7 million listeners, a growth of 1.2% quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year.

Read more on the national radio brands landscape here

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