The latest figures, released yesterday by the Radio Advertising Bureau, offer the first year-on-year comparisons since the launch last year of its new methodology. The figures indicate a rise of nearly 9% in total hours of radio listening during the twelve months to March 31 – much of it attributable to listening by net-users as they surf the web.
Said bureau managing director, Justin Sampson: "The numbers are starting to demonstrate that people are listening to the radio while they are on the internet. Of all people who use the internet at least once a week, 95% listen to the radio, [whereas] only 90% of all adults listen. Furthermore, just over 3 per cent of all adults have listened to radio stations over the net, and that's particularly strong among men aged between 15 and 34, in which case it's more like 10 per cent."
Of the three national commercial radio networks, Classic FM enjoyed the greatest success. It recorded its best-ever figures, adding 255,000 listeners quarter-on-quarter and achieving a weekly reach of 6.26m. The station also won record market share of 4.4%, up from 4.3% in the previous twelve months.
For the other nationals, it was gloom all the way despite attempts to put a positive spin on the figures.
Kelvin MacKenzie’s TalkSPORT lost market share, falling from 1.8% to 1.4%. Total listening hours also dived from 16.9m to 14.2m. But MacKenzie clutched at the fact that TalkSPORT had strengthened its core audience of males in the 35-54 age group, while 67% of his audience is now male.
Scant consolation too for Chris Evans, whose Ginger Media Group owns Virgin Radio. Virgin lost reach, share and hours year-on-year, although quarter-on-quarter listening hours rose from 24.7m to 27.8m.
There was greater cheer in the regional markets. London’s Heart FM did well, increasing its share from 4.5% to 5.2%; and although Capital FM lost market share, its hours were up. Magic FM gained 314,000 listeners but somehow managed to lose 559,000 hours year-on-year. Of the niche stations, Emap’s Kiss reversed its decline, increasing its share to 3.7%, and Capital's XFM showed an overall lift with a 663,000 increase in listening hours. Jazz FM with 673,000 listeners registered its highest ever reach and a 1.5% market share.