UK’s RAJAR data shows overall radio listening down, but digital rising

RAJAR Q1 2015 all radioThe UK’s Radio Joint Audience Research released its data from the first quarter of 2015. The latest information revealed a slight decline in overall radio listening, but posted improvements in the rates of digital radio uptake in the region.

Total radio listening for the quarter included an average of 1.02 billion hours of listening per week, or 21.3 hours of live radio per week for the average individual. That came from 89.3% of the adult population, or 47.8 million people, tuned into a station each week. The number of Q1 2015 listeners declined about 50,000 people from the same quarter of 2014.

RAJAR Q1 2015 digital radioIn contrast, digital radio has been consistently increasing its share of listeners, growing from 20.1% in Q1 2009 to 39.6% in Q1 2015. The weekly reach for digital platforms is now just over half of the UK’s adults, and 28.6 million people use digitally enabled receivers to tune in for their radio listening. Average hours of digital listening in a week for the period were 403 million, up from 379 million in the year-ago quarter.

Of the digital options, RAJAR divides the listening platforms into DAB radio, digital television, and online. DAB receivers accounted for 65% of all digital hours, while the digital TV secured 12% of that time. Online listening – which likely includes streaming – accounted for 17% of digital listening and 7% of total listening hours.

“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,” said Ford Ennals, Digital Radio UK’s CEO. The UK is not expected to make the full transition to digital radio in 2017, but it has been expanding digital options. It will have a second digital network launching next year.

The RAJAR data also highlighted a small increase in use of mobile devices for radio listening. During Q1 2015, 22% of adults used a smartphone or tablet to tune in, compared with 21.8% of adults in the year-ago period. The BBC has been leading a push for more smartphones to have FM chips enabled both in the UK and worldwide.

Anna Washenko