Digital accounts for nearly a third of UK radio audience

03/02/2012

The number of online radio listeners in the UK rose 16.4% during 2011, accounting for 29.1% of the total audience, according to the latest RAJAR figures. Although both internet radio, now 3.4% of the market, and digital TV, 4.5% of the market, have recorded healthy gains the main factor fuelling this growth has been the growing popularity of DAB radios which now command 71% of all listening. FM/AM listening continued its decline, hanging onto an overall listening share of 64.1%, down 2.9% year-on-year.

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RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research and is the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK. It is jointly owned by the BBC and the RadioCentre on behalf of the commercial sector.

There are currently approximately 310 individual stations on the survey and results are published every quarter.

Digital on the rise

Digital radio put in a strong performance once again last quarter. Listening to radio via a digital platform in terms of weekly reach has increased by 10% year on year, with 23.1 million people now tuning in to radio via a digitally enabled receiver (DAB, DTV, internet) each week (up from 20.9 million in Q4 2010 and 22.8 million in Q3 2011).

This increase is reflected in the digital listening hours for Q4, which are up 15% from 26.2 million hours in Q4 2010 to 30 million hours in Q4 2011.

As ever, DAB radio maintains its position as the most popular device when it comes to listening to digital radio, accounting for 66.7% of all digital hours.

However, listening via DTV (digital television) and the internet have both continued to rise year on year (hours up by 1.8% and 10.2% respectively) albeit from a smaller base.

The share of radio listening via a digital platform now stands at 29.1% of all radio listening, increasing from 25% in Q4 2010 (and 28.2% in Q3 2011).

DAB listening increased its share from 15.8% in Q4 2010 to 19.4% in Q4 2011, while the share of DTV listening increased from 4.3% in Q4 2010 to reach 4.5% last quarter.

Internet listening currently stands at 3.4% for Q4 2011 - up 3.1% YoY.

Access to a DAB receiver is also up (13% YoY) with 40% of the population, or 20.9 million adults (aged 15+) claiming to live in a household which has a DAB set.

Digital switchover targets

The figures remain some way off the government’s target of digital listening reaching 50% of total before switchover will take place.

Overall 1.03bn hours of radio were consumed in the final quarter, down by 150,000 hours on the same period last year.

Digital Radio UK’s chief executive Ford Ennals said it was a “milestone moment.”

“The direction of travel for radio in the UK is digital. Almost 50% of all listeners now listen to digital radio every week and 40% of people live in a home with a DAB digital radio,” said Ennals. “In addition to strong digital radio sales at Christmas we have seen unprecedented growth in DAB listening.”

Mobile radio usage

RAJAR data also reveals that 15.1% of adults aged 15+ listened to the radio via a mobile phone in Q4, up 14.1% YoY.

In the 25+ demographic, 11.9% say they have listened to the radio via their mobile phone, up from 10% in Q4 2010.

In the 15-24 demographic nearly a third (or 32.2% of those surveyed) now claim to have listened to the radio in this way with 16% stating they listen at least once a week and 2.8% stating they listen every day.

Top shows and stations

DJ Chris Moyles is in danger of being overtaken in the popularity stakes by John Humphrys, according to Rajar.

The BBC Radio 4's Today Programme pulled in 7.1 million listeners in the last quarter of 2011 – just behind Moyles' Radio 1 breakfast show which had an audience of 7.2 million.

Both were well beaten by Radio 2's Chris Evans, whose show had a weekly reach of 8.8 million.

The early morning Today Programme benefited from a leap in audience figures from 6.7 million in the previous quarter, while Moyles had a more modest improvement from 7.1 million in the same period.

Both Radio 1 and 2 lost listeners compared to the previous quarter.

Radio 1 was down from 11.8 million to 11.6 million, while Radio 2 fell from 14.3 million to 14.2 million.

Radio 3's audience saw a modest rise from 2.05 million to 2.09 million, while Radio 4 increased from 10.5 million to 10.8 million.

Radio Five Live lost listeners with its weekly reach falling from 6.23 million to 6.22 million.

Digital stations 6 Music and 1Xtra both recorded their highest ever audiences with 1.4 million and 1 million people tuning in respectively.

Source: Rajar

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