Rajar Q4 2011: National stations hold strong

TalkSport recorded its highest ever quarter four weekly audience during the final three months of 2011, while Bauer Media's Kiss increased its weekly audience to 4.18 million.

Alan Brazil helps TalkSport to record numbers
Alan Brazil helps TalkSport to record numbers

According to the Rajar audience figures for the period from 18 September to 19 December 2011 Kiss had a weekly audience of 4.18 million listeners, up 5.8% year on year and 0.8% quarter on quarter.

Kiss became a national station at the start of 2011 and in the latest Rajar figures the station was listened to for a total of 22.19 million hours (the metric used for media agency traders), up 4.7% year on year and 3.7% quarter on quarter.

Steve Parkinson, managing director, Bauer Radio London, attributed Kiss’ growth to the success of its breakfast show, "which is bigger than things like ‘Daybreak’", Kissmas marketing campaign and its relationship with its listeners through social media.

TalkSport had an average weekly reach of 3.2 million listeners in Q4 - a record for the quarter and up 3.5% year on year and 2.0% quarter on quarter - which it attributed to its exclusive Rugby World Cup coverage as well as the Barclays Premier League.

On average TalkSport was listened to for a total of 21.61 million hours every week in the final quarter of 2011, down 11.9% year on year but up 7.3% quarter on quarter.

Scott Taunton, chief executive of TalkSport, said: "It was the first time we have invested in commentary rights for the Rugby World Cup and it helped us to the best quarter four we’ve ever had.

"Each year since we took over the station we’ve looked for additional sports rights to add to our portfolio and it continues to have a positive effect. We’re only 50,000 behind our highest audience ever so we’re really pleased."

Absolute Radio’s core station had an average of 1.599 million listeners across FM, AM and its digital platforms in the fourth quarter of 2011, up a notable 16.3% year on year but down 0.3% quarter on quarter.

Over an typical week in the fourth quarter listeners tuned into Absolute Radio for an average of 11.18 million hours a week, up a whopping 18.1% year on year and 8.8% quarter on quarter.

Absolute Radio’s network of national stations has an average weekly reach of 2.8 million listeners, up 27% year on year and down 1% quarter on quarter, and a total of 18.9 million hours, up 18.6% year on year but down 7.2% quarter on quarter.

Clive Dickens, chief operating officer of Absolute Radio, said: "Year-on-year we’re up half a million which has capped off a fantastic 2011 compared to 2010 driven by breakfast, which was particularly strong in the quarter, as well as digital and London."

Absolute Radio rebranded from Virgin Radio in September 2008 and Dickens said the company’s ultimate target was to surpass Virgin Radio’s highest ever weekly reach of 3.8 million listeners.

Dickens said: "We‘re close to three million listeners and to reach that figure psychologically and for trading purposes will be important. Once we get to three million the next target will be to build from that to the largest audience we’ve had."

Smooth Radio put in a solid performance reporting a weekly reach of 3.32 million, up 7.5% year on year but down 0.4% quarter on quarter, and total hours of 25.75 million, up 7.9% year on year but down 4.8% quarter on quarter.

Jazz FM had a weekly reach of 512,000 listeners in the last quarter of 2011, up an impressive 14.3% year on year and 0.8% compared to the third quarter. Listeners tuned in for an average of 1.908 million hours every week.

Richard Wheatly, chief executive of Jazz FM, said: "It is great to see our reach continuing to grow in a tough market."

Global Radio’s Classic FM remained the largest national commercial station despite a decline in weekly reach to 5.36 million listeners, down 6.2% year on year and a decline of 0.4% quarter on quarter.

Classic FM was listened to for an average of 41 million listening hours a week in the fourth quarter of 2011, a decline of 10.5% year on year but up 7.5% quarter on quarter.

Bauer Media’s Smash Hits and The Hits were the largest digital only stations with 1 million (down 3.9% year on year and up 12.9% quarter on quarter) and 984,000 listeners (down 12.4% year on year and 1.1% quarter on quarter) respectively.

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