Rajar Q3 2011: Smooth, Real and Absolute 80s report impressive growth
GMG Radio's Smooth Radio and Real Radio and Absolute Radio's Absolute 80s have reported the highest gains in audience of the major national commercial radio brands.
Smooth Radio: presenter Simon Bates
According to the latest Rajar figures, in the third quarter of 2011 Smooth Radio and the Real Radio network reported their highest ever weekly reach pushing the GMG Radio group to its own highest ever weekly figure.
In the final quarter of Smooth Radio's first year as a national service the station reported an average weekly audience of 3.32 million between 27 June 2011 and 18 September 2011, up 9% year on year and 3.7% on the previous quarter.
New presenters such as Simon Bates and David "kid" Jensen helped Smooth Radio’s total hours (the metric used by agencies when trading) to another record high at 27.05 million, up 15% year on year and 11.3% quarter on quarter.
The Real Radio network, which is in Scotland, the North East, North West, Wales and Yorkshire, had an average weekly reach of 2.61 million, up 10.0% year on year and 1.7% period on period.
The Real Radio network reported an average of 21.61 million listening hours a week in the third quarter, up 3.4% when compared to the same period last year and up 1.7% quarter on quarter.
Stuart Taylor, chief executive of GMG Radio, said: "We're very encouraged. There are not just more people listening, they are also listening for longer. Smooth now has a formidable line-up of presenters.
"We’ve had six months of people like Simon Bates, Kid Jensen and Mark Goodier and it's coming together in the year on year figures. With Real Radio we’ve refreshed and reenergised the network and upped the tempo of the music."
Absolute Radio's digital station Absolute 80s reported its biggest audience since launching two years ago and is now the biggest digital only commercial station by reach with an average weekly audience of 1.02 million listeners.
Absolute 80s leapfrogged the previous biggest digital only station, Bauer Media's The Hits, and reported an audience of 1.02 million listeners, a massive 80.5% year-on-year rise and up 13.9% quarter on quarter.
Clive Dickens, chief operating officer of Absolute Radio, said: "It's great to see Absolute 80s bigger than BBC 1Xtra and not far behind BBC 6 Music, especially as they have more investment in talent and distribution than we can put in.
"The growth of Absolute 80s has driven the share of our listening that is by a digital platform to 69%, against an industry average of 28%. [With the core Absolute Radio station] we now have two stations in the top 10 commercial stations by reach."
The Absolute Radio network of stations had a combined weekly reach of 2.84 million, down 1.9% period on period but up 18.1% year on year, while its average total number of listening hours each week was 20.28million, up 11.5% year on year but down 16.5% quarter on quarter.
Global Radio launched its Capital network at the start of this year and since then has steadily built its listeners on the back of significant marketing. In the third quarter the Capital network’s weekly reach was 7.03 million, up 2.3% period on period.
Bauer Media’s Kiss, which became a national station at the beginning of this year, had an average weekly reach of 4.14 million, up 2.5% year on year but down 3.5% quarter on quarter.
The Magic network, which is also part of Bauer Media, fared less well and reported an average weekly reach of 3.82 million listeners, down 5.6% quarter on quarter and down 9.8% quarter on quarter.
Kiss had an average of 21.40 million listening hours a week, down 4.4% year on year and down 4.7% quarter on quarter, while Magic had a total of 26.21 million hours, down 9.8% year on year and 2.9% quarter on quarter.
Steve Parkinson, managing director, Bauer Radio London, said: "We expected to have quite a quiet one in quarter three as we made a decision not to do very much over the late summer. Magic Summer Live really boosted us in quarter two.
"We’ve just started a TV ad campaign for Magic and have announced we’ve got Michael Bublé presenting on Saturday nights and we have our Kissmas outdoor and digital campaign to drive listening hours coming up."
Global Radio-owned Classic FM continues to be the biggest commercial station, reporting an average weekly audience of 5.39 million listeners, although this was down 5.1% year on year and 6.1% quarter on quarter.
The Heart network had a weekly reach of 7.65 million, down 4.2% year on year and 0.5% quarter on quarter, while its total hours were 57.86 million, down 6.5% year on year but up 6.9% quarter on quarter.
UTV Media’s TalkSport had an average weekly reach of 3.13 million, its highest ever reach during the third quarter and up 5.8% year on year, although it was down 2.5% quarter on quarter.
TalkSport reported an average 20.14 million listening hours in the third quarter, down 8.4% year on year and 0.7% quarter on quarter, while Richard Keys and Andy Gray’s show reached a record audience for the mid-morning slot.
Moz Dee, programme director, TalkSport, said: "I’m delighted that we’ve grown the audience year on year in what is always a difficult quarter for sports broadcasters. Quality sports journalism and continued investment in rights and talent are hitting the right note with existing and new listeners.
"While these figures only reflect the first few matches of our live and exclusive Rugby World Cup coverage, they seem very promising indeed."
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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