Digital radio hits nearly 40% of all listening

BBC Radio 4 Extra overtakes 6 Music as digital-only commercial stations such as Absolute 80s and Planet Rock attract record audiences

Nearly 40% of radio listening is now on digital with record audiences for digital-only commercial stations including Absolute 80s and Planet Rock.

Absolute 80s pulled in an average of 1.45 million listeners a week with another 1.25 million tuning into Planet Rock, both owned by Bauer Media, in the first three months of this year, according to Rajar listening figures published on Thursday.

Kiss spin-off station Kisstory, another Bauer station, also hit a new high, up 21% to with 1.13 million listeners.

Digital listening was also given a boost by record audiences for the BBC’s Radio 4 Extra, which leapfrogged BBC 6 Music as the UK’s biggest digital-only station, with 2.17 million listeners.

Digital platforms made up 39.6% of all radio listening, up from 36.6% in the same period in 2014, including DAB radio, online and via apps.

In the London area, digital listening has now overtaken analogue, with a 46.8% share ahead of FM and AM’s 46.2%.

But nationwide, analogue listening on FM or AM continued to take the lion’s share, with 54.3% of all listening, down from 57.8% a year ago.

While early hopes of a 2017 digital radio switchover were dashed by slow uptake, Digital Radio UK chief executive, Ford Ennals, said: “The surge of digital listening to almost 40% share is a landmark moment for digital radio, and shows the achievability of the 50% listening criterion set by government for a radio switchover.”

Among the big national commercial stations (broadcasting on both analogue and digital) Absolute 80s’ success was mirrored by the main Absolute Radio station, up 7% year on year to just under 2 million listeners a week.

Global Radio’s Classic FM was up 4.1% year on year to 5.53 million listeners while UTV’s TalkSport was up 1.6% to 3.25 million.

But Global’s Capital and Heart networks were both down, Capital down 4.4% year on year to 7 million and Heart slipping 1.5% to just under 9 million. Global’s Smooth network was up nearly 11% on the year to 4.77 million.

In London, Bauer’s Magic and Kiss held the top two commercial spots in terms of reach, with Magic on 1.91 million, overtaking Kiss on 1.88 million.

Capital was in third place in London on 1.79 million, down 6% year-on-year, but there was a double-digit drop for sister station Heart, down 15% to 1.53 million.

Global’s talk station LBC, the former home of Call Clegg, is now a nationwide affair and had 1.36 million listeners across the country, up more than 10% year on year. But it did not do so well in the capital, down 12.4% on the same period in 2014 to 887,000 listeners a week.

There were also double-digit declines in London for Global stations Xfm, down 15% to 363,000; Capital Xtra, down 24.3% to 311,000; and Gold London, down 13.5% to 263,000.


John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Radio 2 breakfast show audience falls to lowest level in a decade
Zoe Ball programme sheds a million listeners as Rajar data shows podcasts are on the rise

Jim Waterson Media editor

23, Oct, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
Chris Moyles comeback gives Radio X its biggest audience in a decade
Former BBC Radio 1 DJ’s return to the airwaves sees commercial station’s breakfast show boost its London audience by 39% in final quarter of 2015

Mark Sweney

04, Feb, 2016 @12:01 AM

Article image
Female British artists underrepresented on UK radio, survey finds
Fewer than one in five songs in top 100 airplay chart so far this year were by British female acts

Laura Snapes

21, Aug, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
Capital FM holds steady as London rivals slide
Global Radio-owned station falls by just 0.6% as its breakfast show increases its weekly audience by 10% to 1.19 million. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

06, Feb, 2014 @11:46 AM

Article image
Media Talk podcast: digital radio switchover special

Next week the government is to announce its plans for digital radio – John Plunkett and guests debate the pros and cons

presented by John Plunkett and produced by Matt Hill

12, Dec, 2013 @10:01 AM

Article image
Capital regains London radio crown
Global Radio station knocks Bauer-owned Magic off the top spot, as its breakfast show boosts its audience by more than 30%

Mark Sweney

06, Aug, 2015 @11:01 AM

Article image
Capital Radio holds on to commercial crown in London
Global Radio’s Capital London holds on to top spot as Smooth Radio sees audience fall. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

02, Aug, 2012 @7:00 AM

Article image
Kiss edges ahead of Capital as London radio stations face tough quarter
Bauer station takes top spot despite reporting a 1.5% quarter-on-quarter fall, with its breakfast show losing 16% of its listeners

Mark Sweney

29, Oct, 2015 @8:00 AM

Article image
Battle of the brands as BBC, Bauer and Global vie for young music listeners
David Hepworth: While album sales are going backwards, the charts and the airwaves are dominated by a handful of titanic singles

David Hepworth

27, Oct, 2013 @6:31 PM

Article image
Rajars: Johnny Vaughan regains London breakfast radio crown

Johnny Vaughan's 95.8 Capital FM breakfast show has returned to the number one spot in London as Magic 105.4's Neil Fox tumbled into third place. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

16, Oct, 2008 @9:12 AM