Digital listening share has increased by 11% to a new record of 58.5%, up from 52.6% in Q4 2018, boosted by the launch of new national commercial digital stations, and the growth of listening online via smart speakers in home and DAB listening in car, according to RAJAR Q4 2019 data released today.
Overall digital listening grew by 43.4 million hours or 8% year on year. Listening via online and apps grew by 28.5 million hours (or by 30%) to now account for 12.5% of all listening and 21.5% of digital listening. Listening via DAB grew by 16.1 million hours (or by 4%) year on year to now account for 41% of all listening and 70% of digital listening, and DAB listening hours are now ahead of FM listening hours when split out from overall AM/FM listening . Listening via DTV declined by -1.4m million hours (or by -2.7%) year on year to now account for 5% of all listening and 8.5% of digital listening.
Digital listening to national commercial stations grew by 31 million hours or 20.7% year on year and, following the launch of a number of new stations from Global in the quarter, the overall digital reach of national commercial stations increased by 2 million listeners year on year. These new stations include Heart 90s which reached 627,000 listeners; Heart Dance which reached 380,000 listeners; Capital Xtra Reloaded which reached 330,000 listeners; and Heart 70s which reached 248,000 listeners.
31% of adults now claim to own a voice-activated speaker, and listening online and via app in home is, for the third consecutive quarter, the fastest growing platform and location, increasing by 27 million hours (or by 43%) year on year.
Digital listening in car reached a new record of 44.5%, growing by 15.4 million hours or 16.4% year on year. With 95% of new cars now coming with DAB as standard (Source: Q4 2019, CAP/SMMT), the majority of in car growth was to DAB which increased by 14 million hours or 15.6%.
The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music which grew by 8.4% to reach 2.487 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra which grew by 6.6% to reach 2.271 million listeners. The most popular commercial digital-only station is KISSTORY with a reach of 2.204 million listeners, followed by Virgin Radio with a reach of 1.530 million.
In a strong quarter for speech content, talkRADIO grew by 43.4% to reach a record 433,000 listeners; LBC, which is nationally distributed on DAB, grew by 23.3% year on year to reach a record 2.7 million listeners; and BBC Radio 5 live which has the majority (69%) of its listening on a digital platform, grew by 9% to 5.4 million listeners.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said:
“Digital listening has grown to a new record share of 58.5% due to the success of new national commercial digital stations, the growth of DAB in cars and the surge in online listening prompted by the growth of smart speakers in homes. Q4 2019 represents a significant milestone in that for the first time listening hours on DAB are higher than listening hours on FM. FM has been the backbone of UK radio listening for over 30 years but it is clear now that the future of radio is not binary and is going to be a combination of DAB listening as well as listening across multiple online platforms.”
Source: RAJAR/Ipsos MORI/RSMB
Note to Editors
 DAB listening accounts for 399,658,000 hours, compared to combined AM/FM listening hours of 405,129,000. RAJAR collects all analogue data as AM/FM combined. With BBC Radio 5 live reporting AM hours of 10,588,000 million hours and talkSPORT reporting AM hours of 6,738,000 million hours, DRUK calculates that FM hours will, therefore, be less than 399,658,000.
Union JACK Radio today announces its coverage line-up of the Leicester Comedy Festival, which kicks off on Wednesday 5 February and runs throughout the month.
Live broadcasts on Union JACK Radio will include the renowned Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition (Saturday 22 February, 7.30pm – 10pm), which features a stellar list of past winners such as Josh Widdicombe, Johnny Vegas, Jason Manford and Rhod Gilbert. Union JACK Radio will be the only place to hear the competition outside of the event, with coverage hosted by Tom Rosenthal and Geoff Lloyd.
Union JACK Radio’s live broadcast of the UK Pun Championships (Monday 10 February, 7pm – 10pm) will be hosted by comedy presenter Lucy Leeds, alongside 2018 Pun Championship winner Rob Thomas. Lucy will also host her own festival-themed show, Lucy Leeds Loose in Leicester (nightly Wednesday 5 to Friday 7 February, 6pm – 7pm), alongside her co-host, comedian Alex Hylton.
Union JACK Radio's popular breakfast show The Full English will be broadcasting live from the venue daily, and listeners can also hear some of the nation’s emerging talent live on Union JACK Radio’s Circuit Breakers (Saturday 15 February, 8.30pm – 10pm), hosted by Mark Dolan.
Giles Gear, Programme Manager at Union JACK Radio, said:
“There are huge numbers of comedy fans out there who won’t be able to make it to Leicester Comedy Festival in person, so we want to take the very best highlights of the event to them. Union JACK Radio is delivering a brilliant schedule of live events, interviews and one-off programmes from the festival, so listeners up and down the country don’t have to miss out.”
Union JACK Radio has cemented its reputation as the ‘Home of Great British Comedy on the Radio’ with a sustained investment and a strategic focus on British comedy, playing clips of classic comedy and investing in up-and-coming talent and formats, whilst also extending the reach of some of the nation’s most-loved comedy events, including Leicester Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Union JACK is available across the UK on DAB+ online at unionjack.co.uk and via the Union JACK app.
News UK has today unveiled plans for the launch of Times Radio, a new national digital radio station in partnership between The Times, The Sunday Times and Wireless.
Times Radio will bring together the journalistic expertise of The Times and The Sunday Times with the speech radio and podcasting experience of Wireless, the company behind talkSPORT, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio UK. The station will launch later this year and broadcast on DAB, online and via app and smart speakers, and be ad break free, with commercial opportunities for sponsors across the schedule.
News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks said:
“We acquired Wireless in 2016 with a clear ambition to bring their audio expertise to our newsbrands. The Times and The Sunday Times deliver world-class journalism to a substantial and highly engaged audience and Times Radio will create a new speech radio outlet to reach an even broader audience who want quality reporting and trusted, expert commentary in real time.”
Times Radio will provide a daily schedule of news, analysis and commentary with a line up of high-profile presenters, as well as contributions from expert commentators from The Times and The Sunday Times.
Editor of The Times, John Witherow, said:
“Times Radio will provide provocative, well-informed, entertaining and useful discussion covering the key stories of the day, and informing the national conversation. Times Radio, infused with our world-class journalism, will be the perfect complement to our print and online offer.”
Tim Levell, latterly Editor of the award-winning Emma Barnett Show at Radio 5 Live, is named as Programme Director for Times Radio. As Programme Director, Tim will work with Times Radio Launch Director, Stig Abell, and a team including Wireless Director of Strategy Jimmy Buckland and Wireless National Speech Radio Controller Liam Fisher to create, manage and format the station.
Wireless CEO Scott Taunton said:
“Since Wireless joined the News UK family, we have been working more and more collaboratively with The Times, lending our radio and podcasting expertise to develop an audio strategy for one of the world’s pre-eminent newsbrands. Last week we announced the launch of a new podcast series - Stories of Our Times - and I’m delighted that with Times Radio we will be investing in a major, high quality new voice for news and current affairs on digital radio, online, on app and smart speakers.”
Stories of Our Times will take the best of The Times’ journalism to create a landmark news & current affairs audio series, and Wireless Studios has been working closely to support The Times’ growing roster of successful podcasts as part of its wider audio strategy.
Meanwhile, News UK can confirm that talkRADIO - which delivered record RAJAR numbers in the last set of results - will continue to broadcast on DAB, online and via app and smart speaker.
More information about Times Radio will be released in coming weeks.
Virgin Radio Groove, a new addition to the Virgin Radio network, officially launched this morning with an all-day takeover of Virgin Radio, kicking off on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky.
Targeted at 30-45 year olds, Virgin Radio Groove focuses on rhythmic pop with a playlist featuring Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Rihanna and David Guetta, and programming includes The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky from 6.30am, followed by Chris Brooks (10am-2pm), Steve Denyer (2pm-6pm) and Bam (6pm-10pm).
Mike Cass, Content Director for Virgin Radio, said:
"We had a phenomenal 2019 with Chris Evans back in the fold and the launch of two stonking new digital stations, Virgin Radio Anthems and Virgin Radio Chilled. The launch of Virgin Radio Groove highlights Wireless’ confidence in the Virgin Radio offering. It’s a sensational station and that will no doubt fast become the go-to destination for music to make you move.”
The launch of Virgin Radio Groove comes as The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky celebrates their first birthday on air. Marking the occasion Chris Evans said:
"This time last year I returned to my spiritual home at Virgin Radio and I have loved every minute of it since then. We instantly changed commercial radio forever - creating the first ad-break free breakfast show, thanks to our partnership with Sky. We are delighted with the listening figures and our numbers have continued to grow every month. Over the next year our plan for the breakfast show is simple; to continue to give it all we’ve got and have the most possible fun along the way."
Virgin Radio Groove is available on smart speaker, on the Virgin Radio app, online at virginradio.co.uk and on DAB+ in London and DAB in Central Scotland,
Virgin Radio Groove joins Virgin Radio Anthems with guitar-led classics from the 60s to the 90s and Virgin Radio Chilled with a laid-back repertoire of singer-songwriters.
The Virgin Radio network (including Virgin Radio, Virgin Radio Anthems and Virgin Radio Chilled) now reaches 1.64m (up 303% year-on-year), delivering 9.2m hours (up 508% year-on-year).