RAJAR Q1 2020 Review: The effects on listening in more detail

May 2020  RadioWorks Blog

rajar q1 2020 review

What did we think of RAJAR Q1 2020? RadioWorks Group reviews the results, along with the effects on listening in more detail.

What are the highlights this quarter?

Arriving in your inbox early this morning will have been our regular RadioWorks summary of the headlines from RAJAR. The top highlight, of course, is Commercial Radio’s success in achieving its highest ever reach (36.3m) and its triumph over the BBC for 3 consecutive years.

All things considered; this quarter is especially important as we currently face one of the most challenging chapters in our lives. Our routines and priorities have shifted, but despite being apart, we are brought closer together through radio. And this has been the case for many years.

The theme in our headlines piece was resilience, here’s why. The below reveals commercial radio listening over the last 15 years and illustrates a virtually unchanged reach with very little movement – a true testament to radio’s resilience.

How would you describe the digital listening results?

Digitally, RAJAR has reported yet another impressive set of results. DAB, online and apps now account for 61.6% of listening, which underlines the growing usage and appreciation of these devices. Overall listening (including BBC) surges to 67% reach while remaining above the 50% threshold in terms of share (58.6%). This clearly indicates the rising popularity in DAB, streaming devices, and in terms of content, newly introduced brand extensions which have provided far more choice for listeners than ever.

We can also attribute some of this growth to voice-controlled devices which have been a welcome addition to the home. 32% of adults now claim to own a device and 18% of these people use them to listen to radio every single day.

Outside of RAJAR…

We know it’s important to get a sense of what is currently happening, and although the majority of this RAJAR survey predates the lockdown, we have seen many cases where the ‘lockdown effect’ has influenced commercial radio listening.

Stations have seen a huge change in consumption patterns via online connected devices, including smart speakers, smartphones and laptops/computers. Global and Bauer have both noted a significant rise in connected radio listening since lockdown. According to the media giants, reach has risen by a whopping 25% or more.

Which stations stood out this quarter?

Fortunately, listeners now have more choice and variety now than ever before, which has resulted in a growing admiration for radio’s niche audio content. Take Country Music for example. The genre has lured thousands of more listeners this quarter as Smooth Radio Country invites a further 82,000 listeners, taking its total reach to 286k. Similarly, Country Hits notably grows this quarter, reaching 10,000 more listeners every week (257k).

Looking at the Classical music genre, stations continue to appeal to the nation as we’ve seen with Classic FM. The station remains steady quarter-on-quarter with 5.5m listeners, up from 5.3m in the previous year. Scala, albeit much smaller in terms of reach, is seeing incremental growth, gaining almost 80,000 listeners in less than a year. It’s also worth noting that Scala Radio streaming is up 52% in reach (compared to pre lockdown).

Talk stations such as LBC enjoy an immense victory this quarter as we mentioned in our headlines previously. What’s more, LBC streaming is up 32% reach and 37% in hours when compared with pre lockdown.

All in all, niche genres have continued to prosper this quarter. Pop-ups and station initiatives like Absolute Radio 40s, KISS Garage and KISS Ibiza Weekend allude to the immaculate quality of radio programming, pre and most likely post lockdown.

Have Q1 2020 listening figures been affected by Covid-19?

When looking at RAJAR specifically – the short answer is ‘not really’. The RAJAR release did not cover the official lockdown as the survey period concluded just prior, due to guidance from The Market Research Society. However, even though lockdown measures had not been implemented during the fieldwork period, we can assume that from the early onset of Covid-19, stations like LBC may have experienced an effect in listening just as the global pandemic was emerging.

Looking forward to Q2 2020, whilst restrictions on social contact are still in place across the UK, it remains to be seen whether RAJAR will be able to carry out enough research to release Q2 2020 as planned. We will, of course, be updating you when we have more details, as they continue to work on their contingency strategy.



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