The RAJAR listening figures for the first quarter of 2016 were released yesterday.  Which means the mic has been passed to us to fill you in on all the best bits of radio data from the start of this year. Now if you like a good spreadsheet as much as we do then feel free to pore over the raw data, if however you prefer a slightly more digestible account then take 5 minutes out and read on.


No surprises that radio listening figures remained as strong as ever in the first quarter of the year, with 47.8 million adults or 89% of the adult (15+) UK population tuning into their favourite radio stations each week. Up very slightly on the previous quarter by approximately 24,000 listeners, and at an average of 21 listening hours per week per listener, radio continues to be the most reliable media platform and shows no sign of slowing down.


While the popularity of radio never wavers however, the means by which we are accessing our favourite stations is most definitely changing. For the first time, the number of listeners claiming to access the radio digitally in their homes moved past the half way mark – with 51.5% of all radio listening in the UK now occurring on a digital platform ahead of the more traditional AM/FM access. Meanwhile, listeners across the board tuning into their favourite stations via a digital platform rose from 39.6% to 44.1% from the same time last year.


Access to digital platforms via a DAB radio accounted for the largest share of digital listening hours, with 70% of listeners tuning in via a digital radio, and 30 million UK adults now claiming to own DAB radio – an increase of 14% year on year. Elsewhere 18% of digital listening hours came from online access and 12% via DTV.


One reason for this change – as might be expected – is younger people. 37% of 15-24 year olds claimed to listen to their favourite radio stations via mobile or tablet in the first quarter of 2016. The wider adult population however are also increasingly listening in this way, with 25% of all adults now claiming to tune in via mobile or tablet – an increase of 14% year on year.


As is plain to see, a vast number of people now own DAB radios. Combine this with the fact that the new national multiplex stations are yet to feature in the RAJAR results, and also the move towards all new cars being fitted with digital radios, mobile and tablet access is only one piece in the jigsaw for what can be seen as a snowballing effect on the growth of digital radio at the expense of analogue platforms.


So what does this mean for advertisers? Well, large and loyal audiences – confirmed by both number of listeners and average listening hours – as well as the lowest ad avoidance figures of any media, make radio a fantastic and often underrated platform for brands. Meanwhile the rise of digital listeners, and increasing availability of access to digital formats and stations, only serves to provide greater options for brands to target and tailor their message to an engaged audience.


Now you may be thinking, well that all sounds great, but where do I start? Luckily for you our expert team of media planners and buyers know exactly where to start and can help you on your way to finding your ideal radio audience. Get in touch today and have a chat with our friendly team!


By Paul Gregson