It’s been a tumultuous week in radio with the exit of Simon Mayo from BBC Radio 2’s Drivetime slot. But the BBC will doubtless be hoping for some more positive press from Greg James’ first set of listening figures. Here’s Music Week’s guide to the Q3 RAJAR numbers for the period ending September 16...
It’s good news for Greg James, whose strong start in the Breakfast Show is reflected in the first set of figures. The show has 5.75m listeners - up 465,000 year-on-year, according to the BBC. Nick Grimshaw had 5.29m listeners in Q2. But James actually presents Monday to Thursday, which has 4.88m RAJAR listeners. As there’s no direct comparison with previous quarters, he may have to share this victory with Friday hosts Dev & Alice.
Over on Radio 2, departing Chris Evans was down to 8.82m, more than 500,000 off the same quarter last year. Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp is London’s No. 1 commercial breakfast show with 930,000 listeners. But Absolute Radio’s Dave Berry was a star performer with the No.1 commercial breakfast show - up 14% year-on-year to 2.2m listeners. Overall, Absolute scored its best ever figures with 4.9m listeners, up 8% year-on-year, while fellow Bauer networks Magic (up 8%), Kiss (up 1%) and Kisstory (up 34%) achieved solid growth. Kiss Fresh saw a 9.4% boost to 568,000.
Dee Ford, group MD, radio, Bauer Media, said, “Commercial radio has never been more exciting, capturing the hearts and minds of audiences and these figures show it. This RAJAR, the Magic, Absolute Radio and Kiss networks have all had their best-ever performances.”
Global’s Heart brand goes from strength to strength with 9.66m listeners (more than Radio 1). The network has put on an impressive 175,000 listeners on last year (1.8%), so it can probably afford not to worry too much about a quarterly dip. Heart London Breakfast, with Emma Bunton and Jamie Theakston, has grown its reach by more than a third in the last 12 months. It now attracts 652,000 listeners a week, up 115,000 on Q2. Chris Moyles is also a strong performer for Global at Breakfast on Radio X, with a record high of 921,000 (up almost 100,000 in 12 months).
Richard Park, group executive director & director of broadcasting at Global, said: “This is a really strong set of results. Smooth celebrates achieving a record 5.8 million weekly listeners and with Radio X and Capital Xtra we have seen yet more record highs. These figures from the Global portfolio signal our focus on reaching and engaging with listeners right across the country.”
Unusually, Q3’s BBC ratings are almost all down year-on-year - perhaps the result of a long summer that meant listeners weren’t tied to their DAB set. Radio 2 was down 4.7% year-on-year and down 2% on Q2. 1Xtra was down 4.3% year-on-year and up slightly on the quarter. There was a 1% dip for Radio 1 (9.6m), though it was up 3.9% on the quarter.
Ben Cooper, controller BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network, stressed the youth station’s digital footprint. He said: “We are totally focused on young audiences and it is fantastic to see nearly 500,000 more listeners to the new Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Radio 1 iPlayer hit a record 50 million total views, 10 million social followers and a record 2.4 billion total views on YouTube.”
The relentless rise of digital radio continues - it now accounts for 52.4% of listening, compared to 50.2% three months ago and 48.8% a year ago. DAB accounts for 38.1% of all listening, while the rise of apps helps online almost reach the magic 10% (9.6%, up from 8% a year ago). Bauer Media’s overall digital reach is 13m, up 8% year-on-year. The media group revealed that 63% of listening is via a digital device, compared to a commercial radio average of 54%.
On BBC networks, a record 51.4% of all listening was on digital. Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music, said: “More than 34m people tune in to BBC Radio each week and the latest figures show we have both stabilised linear listening and grown digital. Whilst millions continue to listen every day we’ve also been reinventing radio to expand our digital offer for the increasing number of online listeners. We’ve focused on both digital live listening and on demand, and last month we had a record number of podcast downloads in the UK. Next week we launch BBC Sounds bringing more content than ever before to audiences on a new digital platform.”
BBC Radio 6 presenter Lauren Laverne’s profile has been boosted by her deputising on Desert Island Discs and her upcoming move to the digital network’s Breakfast Show. Her current morning show hit record ratings of 1.11m, while 6 Music as a whole had its second highest audience figure - 2.52m, up 3.6% year-on-year and up 3% on the prior quarter.
Subscribers can click here for Music Week’s Q2 analysis.