Today's audience measurement figures from Rajar showed record results at many media owners. The weekly reach of Absolute Radio, GMG Radio's Smooth, Bauer Media's Kiss and Global Radio's Capital network all grew year on year.
There were some areas for concern as despite the strong reach figures, commercial radio lost share against the BBC, and although many individual digital stations increased their reach, DAB's share of listening fell.
Three radio buyers give their view on what today's figures mean:
Tom Balaam, business director, radio, Mindshare
"The first quarter of 2012 has once again seen a strong performance for commercial radio. It was good to see overall reach remaining high and share of listening vs. the BBC is still strong. The larger groups will have some headlines to talk about.
"Global Radio will be pleased with Capital Radio’s performance in London. Bauer on the other hand should be championing the success of Kiss. Absolute Radio and TalkSport have performed well and GMG should be pleased with Smooth's national reach, up circa 8% year on year.
"Global’s big networks saw slight increases in reach year on year. Although it should be a worry for them that you can single out stations such as Capital South Wales that have seen significant drops in year-on-year reach.
"Overall, it feels like a strong, albeit not spectacular, first quarter for commercial radio in terms of audience reach. From an advertising point of view we have seen some really excellent work from the radio owners over last 12 months.
"It important that this continues throughout 2012 and the media owners showcase their good work and demonstrate the impact the medium is having on an advertiser’s business."
Thomas Thacker, broadcast buyer, UM London
"The commercial market remains buoyant with notableperformances across the board: Kiss UK posts record reach of almost 4.4 million; the addition of 60s and 70s brands have boosted Absolute Radio portfolio to the 3 million mark; the post-Johnny Capital Breakfast show remains number one; TalkSport remains strong in the market; and a solid performance from the GMG brands.
"Although 90% of the UK population continue to tune into radio each week, perhaps one of the biggest talking points from an industry perspective are the relatively small gains in digital quarterly uptake. DAB share remains under 20% and, although compensated for by a gain in internet listening, these numbers still leave overall digital share well short of the required levels to seriously consider a total switchover any time soon.
"The original timeline once set out is now a distant memory. Although year-on-year figures indeed show growth for digital share, Q1 2012 compared to last quarter suggests that things have started to slow. Whether or not it's a blip or a trend remains to be seen, and no doubt the story will unfold as the year progresses."
Mike Williamson, head of radio, Carat
"In a big week for radio, following Monday night's Sony Radio Awards, it's nice to see correlation between the award winners and this morning's Q1 Rajar results. TalkSport’s Keys and Gray show won Gold for Best Sports Programme on Monday and have followed this up with a record number of listeners to their mid-morning show.
"Kiss FM’s Andy Roberts won Gold for Station Programmer of the Year as Kiss today announced a record 4.4 million listeners nationally. Kiss UK’s breakfast show also won Gold at the Sonys and has achieved record reach in Q1. Liverpool’s 107.6 Juice FM won Station of the Year (300,000-1m) and today announced record listening hours.
"It’s good to see life after Johnny Vaughan, with 95.8 Capital FM's new breakfast pairing of Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon achieving more listeners than Johnny [Vaughan] had a year ago. A hugely positive result for Capital Radio."
Emma Park, Radio Buyer, MPG Media Contacts
The digitalisation of traditional media and the impact it can create amongst the consumer is apparent by the latest RAJAR results, with weekly reach via a digital platform up 5% year on year. What is particularly encouraging is the highly positive effect of Radio Player after just one year in existence, as well as notable mobile growth (up 24% year on year).
The RAJAR results demonstrate that it is not just the overall growth of commercial listening hours, but the growth on smaller local stations and the strong opportunity this poses for advertisers. With radio advertising market revenue set to grow by 4.1% in comparison to the well publicised declining regional press market, this also shows encouraging signs for the future of local commercial radio.
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