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RADIO LISTENING HOLDS STEADY
10/28/21

Overall radio listening in the U.K. hasn’t been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to RAJAR figures, which show that commercial radio is reaching 36.8m people across the country—the biggest audience ever recorded.

That figure is boosted by audiences tuning in digitally and online, which represents 65.8% of all radio listening for Q3 2021. DAB counts for the vast majority of this at 43% while online (including smart speakers) reps 18.1%. The remaining 4.7% takes place on digital TVs while analogue platforms of FM/AM still account for 34.2% of listening time.

The total combined audience for all U.K. radio, across BBC and commercial, sits at 49.5m or 89% of the adult population. BBC Radio 2 takes the highest share of listener reach with 26% of the U.K. population, followed by Radio 4 with 20%, Global’s Heart brand with 18%, BBC Radio 1 with 15% and Global’s Capital with 14%.

As the Guardian notes, while overall figures are positive, the one place radio has been hit over the last year is on breakfast shows. Radio 2’s Zoe Ball program is down 8.9% to 7.2m in Q3 2021 from 7.9m listeners per week in Q3 2019. Others who experienced drops include Radio 1’s Greg James, Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans and Magic’s Ronan Keating and Harriet Scott.

This quarter’s figures are the first to be released by RAJAR since March 2020, when market research stopped due to face-to-face coronavirus restrictions. Since then, the research body has revised its methods to include panelist and MediaCell technology for the first time, alongside face-to-face interviews, therefore including listening from diaries as well as audio matching technology from mobile devices (this is why comparison with previous figures is unreliable).