The latest radio listening figures: RAJAR Q3 2015

Emoov - Sound

The latest RAJAR results have been released revealing the UK radio listening figures for the third quarter of this year.

It’s been another fantastic quarter for radio with strong listening figures being reported from both BBC and commercial stations and digital radio now at its highest. See below for our summary of the highlights.

The radio marketplace

  • 9 in 10 people in the UK tune into the radio each week
  • The average listener tunes to 21.3 hours of live radio per week
  • Listening to radio via a digital platform is 56% this quarter
  • 26% of adults and 41% of 15-24 year olds listen via a mobile or tablet device

Top RAJAR stories

  • Kiss has pushed Capital off the top spot to become London’s most popular station with 2.1m listeners
  • BBC 2’s Chris Evans still has the most popular breakfast show despite suffering a small 2.8% listener drop off this quarter. Meanwhile Nick Grimshaw lost 70,000 listeners this quarter however it will be interesting to see how his new role on the X Factor affects his ratings in the next RAJAR release.
  • BBC Radio Scotland has gained almost 80,000 additional listeners since the same period last year, the station now reaches 948,000 listeners.
  • Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) now attracts 968,000 listeners each week, up from 841,000 a year ago. Nick Ferrari’s Breakfast show has increased its audience by 24,000 over the past year with 591,000 of brits listening every week.
  • Bauer City Network, which includes stations such as Metro Radio, Clyde Radio and Downtown Radio, now reaches 7.3 million listeners and is number one in 15 markets across the UK.
  • On a local scale there has been a good performance from Free Radio which has increased its reach by 9% this quarter in Birmingham and the Black Country. UTV’s network of local stations has also seen a rise in listeners, Wish FM did especially well increasing numbers to 90,000 from 56,000 last year.



The geeky detail


BBC Radio 1

Radio 1 host Nick Grimshaw experienced a marginal year-on-year decline – down to 5.7m listeners. Overall, Radio 1’s audience remained flat year-on-year at 10.5m listeners, Radio 2 was marginally up to 15.3m over the period.

BBC Radio 1Xtra

Radio 1 spin-off 1Xtra also surged by 19.9% to 1.15 million, the second highest audience the station has reported.


BBC Radio 2

Chris Evans has pulled in his biggest third-quarter listening figures to his Radio 2 breakfast show to date – entertaining an average of 9.4m listeners. The TFI host marginally grew his audience for the three months to 30 September year-on-year but his ratings were down on the previous quarter when 9.6m tuned in to the show.
Radio 2 audience was marginally up to 15.3m year-on-year.

BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 reached 2m weekly listeners after controller Alan Davey revealed it was to cut the number of original plays aired by the station by a fifth. The classical music channel grew its audience by 8% for the three months to 30 September, compared with the same period last year, when 1.92m tuned in.

BBC Radio 4 (and 4 Extra)

BBC Radio 4’s spin-off station has passed 6 Music to become the biggest digital-only station in the UK, as digital radio hit a “tipping point”, accounting for 50% of all listening in the third quarter for the first time.

Radio 4 Extra reported a 12.6% rise in listeners to hit 2.2 million, surpassing 6 Music, which also managed a record quarter, according to the latest official listening figures from Rajar.

BBC Radio 5Live (and Sports Extra).
Radio 5 Live’s digital spin-off, Sports Extra, achieved a record, with listeners rising 6.3% to 1.7 million in part thanks to the Ashes series between England and Australia.

BBC 6 Music.

BBC 6 Music, the first digital-only station to pass the 2 million weekly listeners mark, reported a record audience of 2.18 million, up 6.5% quarter-on-quarter.

BBC Regional


BBC Local/Regional radio reached 8.73 million listeners per week, from 8.84m last quarter and 8.95m last year.

BBC Radio Manchester has recorded its highest listener figures for three years.


The number of people listening to BBC Cymru national radio stations has fallen for the second successive quarter.

From July to the end of September, an average of 384,000 people listened weekly to BBC Radio Wales, down 24,000.

BBC Radio Cymru saw its audience drop 12,000 to 104,000 in the same period.


BBC Radio Scotland has gained almost 80,000 additional listeners since the same period last year, the station now reaches 948,000 listeners – more than a fifth of adults in Scotland. In other words, an average reach of 870,000 during the months July-September last year has leapt by nine per cent to average reach of 948,000 during Q3 of this year.



Bauer Radio


Absolute Radio

Absolute Radio 80s retained its position as the biggest commercial digital-only station, despite losing 2% of listeners quarter on quarter to 1.57 million..

After a record result for Kiss in the previous quarter – with a 13.1 per cent year-on-year increase helping it climb to 5.24 million listeners in Q2 Kiss is now snapping at Classic FM’s heels.

The Kiss network drew in an audience of 5.4 million in Q3, following double digit growth of 12.3 per cent on the same quarter last year, and up 4.1 per cent on the previous quarter.

Furthermore they have the title of number one commercial radio station in London (by a thin margin), as leader Capital saw its breakfast show lose 14% of its audience in the third quarter. Kiss took the top spot in London despite reporting a 1.5% quarter-on-quarter drop in weekly listeners to 2.1 million in the three months to 20 September, according to the latest official Rajar figures. It was enough, by the slimmest of margins of 3,000 listeners, to take the top spot in London as Capital lost 5.2% of listeners to report an audience of 2 million.


Other Bauer:
The new Downtown Network of Downtown Radio and Downtown Country reaches 290,000 listeners – an extra 21,000 from last year.


Key 103 continues to lose listeners in Manchester – going down from 387,000 listeners to 382,000 listeners in the last three months.

Global Radio

Heart has regained ground it lost earlier in the year with a boost to its audience, taking listening figures to a new record of 9.14 million. Although Heart remained at the top of the national league tables for seven consecutive quarters, this year had seen its weekly audience dip to 8.98 million in Q1 and 8.86 million in Q2.

The Network saw a 0.8% rise in reach YoY from 9,075,000 to 9,144,000 and 3.2% quarter-on-quarter from 8,860,000. Its share was 6.3% in Q3 15 – down from 6.6% over the same period last year, but up from 6.2% last quarter.


London’s Biggest Conversation now attracts 968,000 listeners each week, up from 841,000 a year ago. According to quarterly figures released by Rajar Nick Ferrari’s Breakfast show has increased its audience by 24,000 over the past year with 591,000 of you listening every week..


Capital Xtra was the star performer at Global in Q3 2015, with its reach jumping 36.0% year-on-year. Its reach of 1,100,000 in Q3 was also up 15.7% on the quarter, rising from 951,000 in Q2 15. It’s share stood at 0.5% last quarter, up slightly from 0.4 in Q2 and the previous year.


The Capital Network’s reach was up 1.5% year-on-year from 7,343,000 in Q3 2014 to 7,450,000 over the same period this year. The third quarter figure is a 4.9% improvement on Q2 2015. The network’s reach in the third quarter stood at 4.0%.

Classic FM

Classic FM also achieved a strong result. The third largest commercial station reversed the decline of the last quarter to hit 5.487 million listeners, an expansion of 4 per cent on Q2, and 5.5 per cent year-on-year.

Smooth Radio

Smooth Radio North East has joined its sister station in the North West by becoming the biggest radio station in its market. With 517,000 weekly listeners, Smooth North East now has more listeners than Capital (516,000), Metro Radio (368,000) and Heart North East (285,000).

Smooth North West continues to be the biggest station in the North West but has lost its recently acquired title of the biggest station outside London, with Capital Yorkshire back on top.

Orion Media
Free Radio & Gem 106

Every Free Radio FM station has seen an increase in weekly listeners this quarter, with Free Radio Birmingham seeing the biggest increase of 30,000 people. Gem 106 has also see a rise, making it one of the best survey periods for Orion Media.

And on AM, Free Radio 80s (West Midlands) shows a growth in listeners of 31% in the last three months with total listening growing by 40% in the same period.


Jack FM

JACK Oxfordshire has gained a 50% increase in total listening hours over the past 12 months. The station is celebrating being just 4,000 listeners behind the local Heart station in its own TSA.



The former JACK stations in Swindon, Bristol and Solent, which are all now branded as SAM FM, all lost listeners this quarter. SAM FM South Coast, which has just requested a format change, lost the most listeners, going from 216,000 to 178,000.

UTV’s network of local stations are seeing a 2% collective increase this quarter. Wish FM has recorded its highest reach in recent times with 90,000 listeners – compared with 56,000 last year.

Tower FM in Bolton and Bury, Wire FM in Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn, Wish FM in Wigan and St Helens have also posted increases across the board, with a combined 39% jump in reach, and hours going up by 19%, both year on year.