The RAJAR listening figures for the second quarter of 2016 were released last week. So, as ever, if you want a really in-depth look at the listening figures for the last quarter then take a look over the raw data available via RAJAR. If you want something a little easier to digest however keep on reading for our summary of what these figures mean to you.


Now, those of you that have been following the RAJAR results for some time will know that radio listening figures – unlike many other media options – have remained solid for a very long time now. And there is very little sign of that changing any time soon. A whopping 48.7 million adults (15+) across the UK tuned in to their chosen radio stations each week in the second quarter of 2016. That’s 90% of the UK adult population – an increase of half a million listeners on the same time period last year. And with an average listening time of 21.5 hours over each week per listener, this is certainly not a transient audience.


If there is a change in the waters to report upon, it has been, as it is elsewhere, the ever-increasing movement towards digital. Last time out in Q1 of 2016 we saw the number of UK adults claiming to listen to radio digitally in their homes – in favour of the more traditional AM/FM access – move past the half way mark (51.5%) for the first time ever. This time around the figure for listeners tuning in via a digital platform rose by 2% on the last quarter, with 59% of the UK adult population – almost 6 in every 10 adults aged 15 and above – now listening digitally in some form or another.


Digital radio is the biggest player when it comes to share of listening hours with 71% of digital listeners coming from digital radio, 11% via DTV and 18% coming from online access. Q2 also saw a rise of 10% year on year of UK adults claiming to own a digital radio. As might be expected the number of younger people 15-24 year olds listening to the radio via mobile phone or tablet, amounting to 39% of this age group, exceeded the national average down at 27% of all adults. The uptake of mobile phone and tablet use to access radio was up 6% year on year across both categories.


Is digital taking over?


After a fantastic second quarter Commercial radio returned to the top spot this quarter – deposing the BBC from its brief win last time out – by amassing it’s highest ever reach of an impressive 35.57 million people (a 3.76% rise). The BBC however were no duds themselves with 35.07 million people tuning in every week (a 0.37% rise).


A notable boost was seen in BBC Radio 4’s ratings, with an increase in reach of 8.2% YoY. Other more talk-heavy or politically orientated commercial radio channels also saw boosts including LBC up 19.96% in total hours YoY and talkRADIO launching with a 224,000 reach. As we saw in the papers, Brexit had a definite impact on behaviour in Q2.


Easier access to digital connections has led to striking year on year increases to numerous commercial radio stations. This has not however – on the whole – had a particularly negative impact on the more traditional BBC channels. While there is a definite movement towards and increasing uptake of digital channels – which, in turn is resulting in more and more new radio stations popping up – this is (in general) not detracting from the more traditional radio powerhouses that continue to have a large and loyal following.


Extremely positive listening figures across the board, combined with very long listening hours, not only means greater opportunities than ever for new radio channels (Magic Chilled, Mellow Magic, a revived Virgin Radio and talkSPORT2 arriving in the first quarter of 2016) but also a huge array of choice for advertisers who want to get their message out there.


Team HS