At a rather unsociable time this morning, RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research Limited) released listening figures for radio stations across the UK. The numbers, which were recorded in the final quarter of 2015 (October-December), provide some pretty surprising insights and statistics about the current trend of radio listeners in the UK. Here are the biggest talking points.
Radio X’s rebrand worked
The station formerly known as Xfm undertook a massive rebrand in September last year, subtly shifting from indie music to a more mainstream base in ‘alternative’ rock. The move was controversial at the time, not only for it’s noticeable lack of women on the schedule and it’s laddish roll call of presenters (Vernon Kay and Johnny Vaughan) but for the return of the divisive radio presenter Chris Moyles to national radio.
However vocal the opposition is to Moyles, his breakfast show provided a huge boost to Radio X, which had a respectable reach of 1.225m listeners nationwide, with a 17 percent increase on the previous quarter and 30 percent on the year. Moyles alone provided a 39 percent boost in listeners new breakfast show and gave Radio X their biggest breakfast listening figures in London since Alex Zane’s show in 2007. Moyles is still maligned by many, but he certainly still is able to pull in the listeners.
6 Music is the biggest digital station in the UK
Just five years ago, reports were suggesting that the closure of BBC 6 Music was imminent due to organisation cutbacks. Several musicians and presenters, including Jarvis Cocker, implored BBC bigwigs to save 6 Music from closure and a public campaign to keep the station on air was indeed successful in revitalising one of Britain’s greatest music institutions.
In 2016, 6 Music is now the biggest digital radio station in the UK with astonishing numbers now tuning in to some of the most eclectic music on offer in the country. 2.2 million listeners a week tuned into the station between Oct-Dec, which is a 6 Music record and was an impressive increase of 5.7 percent on the year. Great times for 6 Music then, whose numbers will likely increase even further this quarter following their outstanding coverage of David Bowie’s death across the station.
DAB radios are more popular than smartphone streaming
Digital radio (not FM/AM) has sustained interest for radio listening in the UK over the last decade, and the latest figures show that 56 percent of the UK population tune in via digital formats on a weekly basis. In particular, the slow-to-launch sets are the preferred way to listen to radio via a digital format, beating out streaming on smartphones, televisions and tablets. 66 percent of all digital hours were listened via DAB radio with online listening by smartphone hovering at 16 percent. Although nearly all commercial stations have made efforts to establish a strong listener base on new technology, DAB radio is still the preferred method for the UK.
Radio 1 is still losing listeners
Radio 1 had a tough quarter with overall weekly listenership down on the quarter to 10.33 million from 10.56m, a drop of 2.2 percent since the previous figures. Nick Grimshaw had a 200,000 listener boost to his breakfast show which will be encouraging to station controllers.
90 percent of UK adults listen to radio
Despite the rise in streaming services and the introduction of Beats 1 Radio and Spotify Shows, overall radio figures for the UK are still insanely high. A staggering 90 percent of adults in the UK listen to radio each week with the average listener tuning in to 21 hours of live broadcasting in that time. In the era of streaming and illegal downloading, it’s refreshing to see that radio is still a huge source of music for people in the UK despite the term ‘obsolete’ being haphazardly thrown around when the topic of radio is brought up.