It’s fair to say that the first quarter of 2023 was pretty eventful!
Industrial action and the cost of living dominated the headlines but there were some other exciting events, such as Liverpool beating Manchester United 7–0, the biggest margin in their historic rivalry.
Whatever’s going on in this changing world, the one thing you can rely on is RADIO!
The latest RAJAR audience figures show that in Q1 2023 a record 38.7m people are now tuning in to commercial radio every week, up 610,000 on Q4 1.5m more than the same period last year. Commercial radio’s share of listening has also grown to a new record of 51.4%, up from 48.4% in Q1 2022. As a result, Commercial Radio now has 6.5 million more listeners than the BBC.
Global Radio UK remains the biggest commercial radio operator, with a record 25.3 million listeners. Bauer Media Audio UK also achieved its own record of 20.8 million listeners. Meanwhile, News Broadcasting (formerly Wireless Group) has hit 6.6 million weekly listeners up by 12% – again a big increase in numbers this quarter.
The latest figures were released at midnight and the Radio Experts team has been pouring over the data to bring you the highlights.
National Stations and Networks
Yet again, the big radio networks delivered an excellent set of all round results with most reporting significant increases in reach or hours or both.
The Heart Network broadcasting across the UK had a solid Q1, increasing both reach and hours by 3% to 8.9 million weekly listeners. In addition, Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston & Amanda Holden is still the biggest commercial radio show in the UK and also the most listened to commercial breakfast show in the UK, with 4 million weekly listeners.
The Capital brand remains as strong as ever with the network reaching over 7.8 million listeners each week, which is 14% of the population across the UK.
The Greatest Hits Network is hitting the big time – It’s another record RAJAR result in terms of reach, adding 1 million more listeners since Q4 2022– now reaching a total of 5.3 million. The brand has also increased its hours by 15% quarter on quarter and share of UK listening is up to 3.7%. And that’s all before a certain Mr Ken Bruce arrived at the network – we’ll be looking to see if the “Ken Bruce” effect translates to an increase in reach and hours in the next RAJAR sweep.
Other highlights include talkSPORT – they’ve stuck the ball in the back of the net this quarter, up 13% in weekly reach to 3.57 million listeners.
The Hits Radio Network is also growing its reach, gaining another 112,000 listeners – up 1.7% compared to the previous quarter.
Radio X London has X-celled with a strong Q1, with its weekly reach expanding by 13.9% from 431,000 to 491,000. Additionally, its total hours have grown by 12.7% from 3,085,000 to 3,477,000.
It’s been smooth sailing for the Smooth Brand – up to 5.9m listeners per week, compared to Q4 2022.
Digital Listening and Digital Only Stations
Combined digital listening in the UK makes up 68% of all listening, with 40% via DAB and 24% online. The online figure includes listening via smart speakers – which accounts for 14% of the total.
Bauer’s digital listening is bigger than the industry average at 78% and the group owns six of the top ten most listened to digital only commercial stations – Absolute Radio, KISSTORY, Absolute 80s, Planet Rock, Absolute Radio 90s and Absolute Classic Rock.
The Absolute Radio Network recorded its highest ever reach at 5.3m listeners a week and is now the number 1 commercial digital station, after switching off its AM transmitters.
Magic at the Musicals has hit a high note too – having had a fantastic quarter with a 52% increase in total listening hours, rising from 492,000 to 748,000. Its weekly reach has also increased by 10% compared to Q4 2022 to 150,000. Now that is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Meanwhile, the residents of Cambridgeshire are Golden Oldies! Gold Cambridgeshire has had a very strong quarter, with a 55% increase in total hours – rising from 320,000 to 496,000.
Smooth Radio Chill is hot right now – up 9% in weekly reach to 503,000 listeners and has also massively increased its hours from 5.4 to 6.5 average hours per week.
Boom Radio is booming again – with its weekly reach up a massive 20% to 635,000 listeners this quarter. With BBC Radio 2 continually shifting its focus to younger listeners, through changes of both presenters and music policy, these figures could well increase next quarter too.
The Heart digital stations are putting in impressive performances too.
Heart 80’s is up 24% to 1.6 million weekly listeners and hours are up too, by 24% quarter on quarter.
Meanwhile the floor-fillers are doing well over at Heart Dance – up 24% to 920,000 listeners every week.
Both GB news and Scala also saw uplifts in weekly reach – at 4 % and 14% respectively.
In the big smoke, Heart London remains number one in terms of weekly reach with just over 1.8 million people tuning in each week.
It’s owner, Global, now owns the top 3 stations when you look at reach with Capital and LBC in 2nd and 3rd place with 1.6 and 1.4 million listeners respectively.
Nick Ferrari from LBC London is leading the conversation with the number one commercial breakfast show in all 3 measures of reach, hours and audience share.
The top 5 London stations are as follows:
|Heart London||1.85 million|
|Capital London||1.65 million|
|LBC London||1.45 million|
|GHR London||1.02 million|
|Kiss London||0.9 million|
Total Listening Hours
|LBC London||17.7 million|
|Heart London||9.3 million|
|Magic London||7.1 million|
|Capital London||6.8 million|
|GHR London||5.1 million|
Outside of London, there’s been some impressive local results.
Greatest Hits Radio Cumbria (surveyed as CFM), is up massively on reach now at 71,000 listeners per week up from 6,000. However, this is because it’s being compared to the previous Greatest Hits Radio Cumbria station figures which has a much smaller audience.
Capital Birmingham is performing well, having increased weekly reach by a staggering 29% (284,000 to 367,000) It has also increased its total hours by an impressive 38% and its share of listening by 41% (3.2% to 4.5%).
In the South West, Radio Exe is up 27% quarter on quarter from 31,000 to 39,000 listeners. Jack FM in Oxfordshire has also jacked up their weekly reach by 20% this quarter – now with 46,000 listeners.
Meanwhile, Heart Kent is beating strongly – having seen its total listening hours increase by an impressive 25% (1,602,000 to 1,994,000) as well as its share – up by 22%.
Heart Sussex has also seen an uplift this quarter with a 15% increase in its weekly reach (from 277,000 to 318,000) and an impressive 22% increase in its share of listening.
With UK Commercial Radio reaching 38.7 million people, it continues to grow its listener base, often at the expense of the BBC. We’re pretty sure Ken Bruce won’t be the last presenter to jump ship to commercial radio!
Big names like his, a variety of music genres and new ways to listen and interact, such as smart speakers, provides advertisers with exciting opportunities to communicate with potential customers.
If you’d like to know more about all aspects of radio and digital audio advertising, please get in touch.