Monday, 29 October 2007
DAB is growing in the UK
An article from the Guardian shows that 28% of UK radio listeners listen to radio using DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) technology.
Britons are becoming DAB hands
The latest Rajar figures reveal that it is the digital networks that are witnessing the largest audience growth
(Paul Robinson is managing director of KidsCo Worldwide)
Monday October 29 2007
Despite the efforts of commercial radio to match BBC ratings, parity still seems something of a distant goal. BBC Radios 1 and 2 are piling on audience, with the latest Rajar audience-listening figures showing that in the third quarter of 2007, the BBC attracted 54.5% of listening, up 0.3 percentage points year-on-year, with commercial radio 0.3 percentage points down to 43.3%.
Local commercial stations seem to have stemmed their audience losses with a modest year-on-year increase in reach, although total listening is down slightly, suggesting that listeners are spending less time with these services.
The opposite is the case with Radio 1, which has put on extra listening. Although the network has not added any new listeners in the past 12 months, it has increased its share from 9.8% to 10.6% - which means people are listening longer and have become more loyal to the station. The stability of the weekday DJ line-up and the extension of Chris Moyles' breakfast show to start half an hour earlier at 6.30am will probably further drive this growth.
Over at Radio 2 the audience is up by a quarter of a million people year-on-year and market share is also up from 15.5% to 15.8%. Terry Wogan is unlikely to be unseated by Chris Evans or Jonathan Ross in the immediate future. Johnny Vaughan is also safe in the breakfast chair at Capital Radio, which made a strong gain in number of listeners, adding 246,000 year-on-year with market share holding steady.
The worry for Capital is that its new listeners are very "light" and could easily evaporate. Capital must now try to build on these gains if the station is to catch up with Heart and Magic, both of which have opened up and sustained a sizeable lead in London. Radio 1 and Radio 2 have also both increased their listener base in the capital in the past 12 months.
When commercial radio is successful at pinning back the BBC in London, its revival will be complete. But for now, the decline in total listening to local commercial stations, which has now been the trend for eight Rajar quarters, continues - with a drop in the past year from 32.6% to 31.7% of total listening.
Stations such as Radio City in Liverpool, Clyde 2 in Glasgow and Smooth Radio in north-west England were among those to lose audience. But the falls were not universal. Choice FM in London piled on 111,000 new listeners, taking the station to a new record of 611,000 listeners and Xfm Manchester, after a disappointing debut last year, increased its weekly audience by 33%, lifting its market share by a third.
Commercial radio started in the UK as a loose association of regional/local stations and still regards itself as a local player with muscle. It dominates BBC local radio in local markets and, although national commercial has always been the poor relation, it has been growing in recent months - and now accounts for over a quarter of all UK commercial radio listening. Classic FM, for instance, has grown in London and in the UK overall over the past three months with the addition of 140,000 new listeners.
Cause for optimism
The continuing build-up of listeners to DAB digital radio services - both commercial and BBC - is also impressive, with the weekly reach (proportion of the population) who now listen to digital radio up to a new record high of 28.4%. The largest growth is coming from DAB digital radio which has shown a 15% increase in the past 12 months.
The total number of hours of listening each week by UK radio listeners is now 153m, which represents nearly one sixth of all weekly listening. We are a long way from approaching analogue switch-off, and unlike with television there is no date or timetable for the transition to digital. There is also, in an analogous way to TV, the challenge of multiple radio sets - the average UK household has five each - and there is no converter "set-top box" that will make an analogue radio capable of receiving DAB digital radio.
But the audience growth of many of the digital networks is a cause for optimism. BBC 6Music and BBC7 have achieved record audiences this quarter (of 485,000 and 795,000 respectively), and more than half the commercial national digital networks have also hit new record Rajar audience numbers.
The biggest gains year-on-year are by the Magic Network, up 395,000, The Hits 312,000, Kiss UK 207, 000, Choice UK 186,000, and Planet Rock 126,000.
Other smaller gains and new all-time records have been notched up by Sunrise, Virgin Radio Classic Rock, Real Radio UK, Galaxy and Heat.