The RAJAR listening figures for the final quarter of 2015 were released last week. In usual fashion we give you the inside track on all the data and what it means. If you have a little more than 5 minutes (and like to get lost in a good spreadsheet) then by all means take a look at the free raw data. If however you prefer something a little more palatable then sit back and read on for our highlights of the final quarter of 2015.


As ever radio remains the reliable media format in Q4 with 90% of the adult (+15) UK population tuning in to their selected radio stations each week. That’s a total of 48.2 million adults and is approximately 386,000 more listeners than in the same period last year. Heavy listening figures is backed up by heavy listening hours with the average listener tuning into a whopping 21 hours and 4 minutes each week. To those in the know this data comes as no great surprise as listening figures across all national radio have remained at an impressively high standard now for a very long time.


What is changing however (and has been for a little while now) is the way in which these listeners are now listening or accessing their favourite radio stations, and indeed, what format these radio stations are now taking. According to RAJAR 41% of 15-24 year olds claimed to listen to the radio via mobile phone or tablet in Q4 (up 10% YoY) and 26% of adults in total (up 20% YoY). Greater numbers of listeners than ever before are now also claiming to interact with their favourite radio channels and presenters via social media, while digital listening hours are now up 9% year on year and DAB radio owners are up 10%.


It is clear that with greater choice and more channels, listeners are now receptive to and actively looking for greater variation in the stations they listen to and how they listen to them. Earlier in the year (in quarter 2) we saw commercial channels overtake the BBC for the first time ever. This trend has continued into the quarter 4 with commercial radio again outperforming the BBC – largely helped by digital radio boasting 56% of the national listening figures.


The trend for commercial and digital is unlikely to stop there. In industry reaction to the final quarter of 2015, both Andy Haylett of Ipsos Connect and Mike Wood of Carat point to the continued success of DAB radio and suggest that listening figures are only likely to grow. As they explain the launch in the coming month of 18 or so new stations as part of the UK’s second national commercial DAB multiplex, D2, as well as the recent announcement that DAB radio is now standard in 80% of new cars, is only likely to increase the numbers of listeners on DAB channels across the year.


Looking at specific channels, performing particularly well in Q4 was Global, Bauer, BBC stations which continue to reach the greatest number of listeners on a weekly basis. Elsewhere, while the winter period proved a mixed bag for the national breakfast stations, there were some huge success stories for the London breakfast slots. Global saw some of the best results of the quarter with Heart London up 44.2%, Radio X London up 38.9% (following the arrival of Chris Moyles), and LBC London news up a huge 106.4% year on year.


Radio really does offer some of the very best untapped opportunities for brands to get their message out there. As well as offering the lowest ad avoidance figures of any format, radio boasts huge numbers of listeners as well as heavy average listening hours. While the audience for radio has begun to spread across multiple channels, this has not negatively affected the major channels (such as BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2) but rather contributed to the overall number of listeners. More choice means a better experience for listeners, but it also means greater opportunities for brands to reach both a large number of listeners and also if required a very specific and localised audience.    


To find out more about how you can start taking advantage of radio get in touch with us today. We’d love to hear from you.


By Paul Gregson