How the UK is consuming Audio Content

One of the things I’m currently involved in is the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) recently formed Audio Council. The council’s aim is to educate the market about the possibilities offered by advertising in an online audio environment through education, developing business models, and increasing value. The council consists of key players throughout the audio and radio sector including research company Audiencenet, who have just published the results of a survey which looks at audio consumption.

With a 3000-strong sample size, the research – called Audiometrics – has delivered some interesting results, the highlights of which I have compiled below, comparing them to the RAJAR stats where possible:

The Results: See the infographic for more


In an average week the Audiometrics research shows that 90% of people listen to audio content. Interestingly this figure matches the figure for weekly radio listening, which RAJAR Q1 13 (a survey of more than 100,000) delivers. Additionally the research shows 48% listen to audio or radio online and although this figure is very close to RAJAR’s 49.6% for All Digital listening (including DAB, DTV and online), it is significantly larger than the split of just 13% for people who say they listen online/via apps.

The significant difference between these two stats is likely to be down to the nature of the question – Audiometrics are measuring all audio, whereas RAJAR only measures radio listening. This suggests that the additional online listening could be to non-radio related audio such as streaming music.

Interestingly this section of the Audiometrics study also showed that 6% of people are listening to podcasts on a weekly basis and a further 4% listen to audiobooks. These figures are higher than I would have expected to see and it will be interesting to see how these figures perform in subsequent studies.

Audiometrics also looked in to the devices that people use to listen to audio in an average week. Against All adults the results showed that a radio receiver was the most popular, with 56% of people listening to audio this way, followed by a computer/laptop on 34%, via DTV on 31% and smartphones on 25%.

Hi-fi stereos appear to be becoming a thing of the past, as they dropped right down the scale with only 23% of people listening to audio this way. Probably not that surprisingly, the figures are very different against 15-24’s with 53% saying they listen via a computer/laptop every week and 51% through a mobile/smartphone.

The study has also shown that the majority of audio listening in an average week takes place in the home (77%) followed by on public transport/in a vehicle (51%). Again, when we compare these figures to RAJAR there are some similarities. RAJAR shows 76% of people listen to radio in the home and 59% of people listen to radio in the car every week.

And finally, when Audiometrics asked what people’s single preferred device for listening to audio was, the results were again split between ages. Across All Adults radio at 35%, was favoured but against teenagers it is the smartphone at 36%, or MP3 player 35% (with radio only delivering 3% to this group).

As part of the IAB’s Audio Council project, Audiencenet are extending their Audiometrics study to include attitudes towards online audio advertising.

Watch this space for an update on those results and if you have any questions in the meantime in regards to online audio, then please feel free to get in touch.

*Based on research from Audiencenet on the UK’s weekly Audio Consumption in Q2, 2013 (sample: 3,112) & RAJAR Q1 2013

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks


RAJAR Q1 13 – Opinion Piece

Hi All

This quarter I gave my opinion on the latest radio listening figures through a number of ways, including; a live twitter Q&A (#SimonSays), an opinion piece in MediaWeek, and, by answering the questions below…

1. What will RAJAR Q1 2013 be remembered for?
A poor set of results for Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1 whose results were down 1.3 million listeners compared to Chris Moyles’ results for the corresponding quarter last year.

2. Which radio station is your RAJAR hero?
XFM London! The station is up a massive 40% Year on Year and 29% Quarter on Quarter in a very competitive marketplace to now deliver 574,000 weekly listeners. The new breakfast show host Jon Holmes has also performed well in his first set of figures for the stations with features such as ‘Miles Away’ obviously going down well with listeners.

3. What station really surprised you this quarter?
Well, if I’m allowed to have more than one I’d go for Capital Yorkshire who recorded their highest ever reach of 1.13 million, and, 106 Jack FM in Bristol who recorded their strongest hours (724,000) and reach (125,000).

4. How would you describe digital radios results?
It’s been another good RAJAR for digital listening with increases in both reach and share. Half of the country’s population (49.6%) are now tuning in to radio via digital means every week, and with 23 million adults having access to a DAB receiver it’s no surprise that this is the most popular way of listening to digital. In terms of share of listening hours, digital has reached an all-time high and now accounts for 34.3% of all listening. And, it’s also good to see listening via online/apps grow to a 5% share. This growth is no doubt as a result of initiatives like UK RadioPlayer, Absolute’s Instream and the many radio station apps which can all provide advertisers with additional opportunities to reach listeners.

5. How did the London breakfast shows compare?
When considering the London marketplace for commercial radio it is Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon on Capital that take the crown as King and Queen, delivering over 1 million listeners to their show which airs between 6-10am – even beating Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw in London (but he didn’t have the best of times). Another Global owned radio station, Heart London, stormed in to second place with their first set of figures since introducing Emma Bunton as co-host for Jamie Theakstone adding a whopping 120,000 listeners to their previous quarter’s results now delivering 768,000 (6-9am). Close behind is Neil Fox’s Magic 105.4 breakfast show on 765,000 (5-9am). Poor results for the Kiss breakfast show team of Rickie, Melvin and Charlie have seen them drop down to fourth position on 651,000 listeners (6-9am), whilst the Christian O’Connell breakfast show on Absolute Radio performed well increasing to 636,000 listeners (6-10am)

6. What’s your favourite fact this quarter?
From a national point of view my favourite fact is… Commercial radio’s chart show, the Vodafone Big Top 40, is now listened to by over 2.2 million people each week – more than 1 million listeners than Radio 1’s chart show. And on a local level I’ve got to go for this fact… Sun FM have beaten all competition in Sunderland (including BBC) and are now the undisputed number one station delivering higher reach and share than all their competitors in the area.

7. Describe Q1 2013 in one word…
Stats! How about one sentence instead? Nick Grimshaw and Radio 1’s loss is commercial radio’s gain.

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks

RAJAR Q1 13 – Full Report

Hi all

Here’s my full RAJAR summary report, originally prepared for RadioWorks as an independent and unbiased analysis of this quarter’s radio listening figures.

In a quarter which saw Radio 1 and Nick Grimshaw lose listeners, commercial radio had a great set of results, increasing weekly reach quarter on quarter and year on year.

RAJAR, the radio audience survey, shows that over 90% of people in the UK listen to the radio every week. Commercial radio reaches 33.5 million listeners and achieves a listener share of 41.9% versus the BBC’s 55.7%. On a local level, commercial radio completely dominates the BBC, delivering 26.5 million listeners compared to the BBC’s 9.5 million for local and regional services. Digital listening now equates to a 34.3% share of all listening hours.

LONDON LISTENING: In the London marketplace the big news is that Capital London has become the largest reaching commercial radio station with 1.95 million weekly listeners.  Although they’ve seen a drop in reach to 1.86 million, Magic 105.4 has retained its number one position in terms of share of listening with 5.6% thanks to strong listening hours compared to their London rivals. Heart London has delivered improved reach on last quarter to reach 1.75 million weekly listeners meaning they’re ahead of Kiss 100, who slipped down to fourth position after delivering 1.6 million listeners – almost 200,000 less than the previous quarter. LBC 97.3 saw an increase in their figures to deliver 931,000 weekly listeners and there were also positive results across other London stations including Sunrise Radio, up a massive 53% to reach 348,000, Gold London (363,000) and XFM (574,000). Note: It is possible to measure Classic FM by its London only transmitter, which delivers 1,362,000.

LONDON BREAKFAST: The much talked about ‘battle of the breakfast shows’ has again been won by Capital London, with 1,067,000 listeners tuning in to their show from 6-10am. Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon will no doubt be very happy that they continue as ‘King and Queen’ of the breakfast airwaves, even beating Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw, whose figures were down considerably. The news that Global Radio will be celebrating most is likely to be the strong performance of Heart London’s breakfast show (6-9am) which saw a jump of 125,000 listeners to 768,000 since Emma Bunton joined Jamie Theakston. Rickie, Melvin & Charlie on Kiss 100 (6-9am) saw their audience significantly drop off this quarter to deliver 651,000, meaning they were beaten into third place by Neil Fox on Magic 105.4 (5-9am) who reaches 765,000 listeners every week. Meanwhile, the multi-Sony Award winning Christian O’Connell has again shown audience growth on his breakfast show across the Absolute Radio Network, and in London, the show delivered a reach of 636,000 listeners.

NORTH WEST REGION: In the North West the largest reaching station by far is Smooth Radio, delivering 783,000 listeners. When looking at the reach percentage figures, it is the Isle of Man’s Manx Radio (53%), Carlisle’s C.F.M (37%) and The Bay in Morecombe which all stand out as performing well, whilst the best quarter on quarter improvement in the region is seen at Cheshire’s Silk 106.9, who posted a 16.7% increase to reach 21,000 weekly listeners. 

NATIONAL STATIONS: Classic FM remains the most-listened-to (single) commercial radio station in the UK. The station has gone above the 5.5 million listener mark for the first time since Q2 2011 and delivers average hours of 7.1, the highest since 2010. Keeping a focus on the national analogue stations: talkSPORT held on to second place, reaching 2.9 million weekly listeners. While Absolute Radio (National + London) delivered 1,687,000. Note: Kiss UK, who broadcast across the UK via online, digital TV, DAB,  plus three regional FM licenses, have achieved 4.1 million listeners; Smooth Radio, who also broadcast nationally on DAB and have several regional licences, (with local content in Scotland), have delivered figures of 3.1 million weekly adult listeners.

NETWORK STATIONS: The network radio stations, which have become a feature of the UK radio industry over the past couple of years, have again delivered some big numbers this quarter. The largest commercial radio network in the country is Global’s Heart Network, which delivers 7.2 million listeners, closely followed by the Capital Network on 6.9 million listeners. Kiss UK has delivered 4.1 million, Magic UK 3.4 million, Smooth Radio UK 3.1 million, and Real Radio UK 2.1 million.

Note: As the UK radio marketplace changes there is some convergence between national and network stations. Whilst the lines are becoming blurred, RadioWorks define network stations as those which have locally produced content, whilst national stations have the same output right across the country and are also available on a mainstream national transmitter (Analogue Radio or Digital Radio).

DIGITAL RADIO (including mobile): Digital radio listening has benefited from a 14% year on year increase and now accounts for a 34.3% share of all radio listening, with 49.6% of people listening to digital radio either through DAB, DTV, the internet or ‘other’. The latest RAJAR figures recorded that 23 million adults (44%) claim to live in a household which has a DAB receiver. The number one commercial, digital only radio station in the UK is now Absolute 80s, with almost one million listeners (984,000). Smash Hits have been pushed in to second place with a weekly reach of 942,000, sitting above Bauer’s recent acquisition, Planet Rock, which added listeners to deliver 896,000. Bauer radio has also taken the fourth spot in terms of digital commercial radio as The Hits reached 877,000 listeners. Smooth 70s increased their listening hours this quarter to deliver an average of 7.4 hours per listener, however, their reach figures dropped off to 681,000, whilst Jazz FM maintained their strong figures from last quarter to deliver 604,000 weekly listeners.

GROUP PERFORMANCE: The UK’s largest commercial radio group is Global Radio (delivering a total of 19.33 million listeners), thanks in part to the strength of its three core brands: Classic FM, Heart and Capital. Bauer Radio recently added to their Passion Portfolio with the purchase of Planet Rock, which helped them record strong performance figures and as a group (including the Place Portfolio) they recorded a total reach of 13.7 million adults. There appears to be continuing uncertainty at Real and Smooth Ltd. (formerly GMG Radio) since their purchase by Global Radio and that has been reflected in the figures, with the group reach down to 5.57 million from 5.85 million weekly reach; whilst UTV Radio, owners of talkSPORT, reaches 4.2 million listeners.  Absolute Radio and its network of decade-based stations have maintained their strong overall figures from last quarter, delivering 3.3 million weekly adult listeners. It is also worth noting that when Global’s acquisition of Real and Smooth Ltd is finalised, the group could be posting figures in the region of 25 million listeners.


Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks