Thursday, May 21, 2015

Platform changes

Uncomfortable times for Radio 1 and Radio 5Live, with both stations seeking to emphasise their success in connecting with audiences in new ways - as their traditional, raw reach headcount falls.

Radio 1 lost 734k listeners year-on-year in the latest RAJAR figures, covering January, February and March 2015. The total weekly reach, at 9,699k, is at its lowest point since 2004, when Chris Moyles, self-styled network saviour, was begining to rebuild the breakfast audience.

Radio 5 lost 417k listeners year-on-year, in the first full quarter of its daytime schedule changes. The station lost Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Richard Bacon, and dispersed Peter Allen (and Adrian Chiles) around the schedule in October. LBC across the UK improved by 128k over the same period, and TalkSport put on 50k. Controller Jonathan Wall will be mightily relieved that Radio 5 Live Sports Extra reached 522k more listeners, thanks mainly to the cricket World Cup. No such consolation for Ben Cooper, with Radio 1Xtra falling by 263k year-on-year.

The runaway success story of this quarter is Radio 4 Extra, which has added 508k listeners year on year, to eclipse Radio 6 Music as the UK's largest 'digital-only' station.  These new listeners may be grazing - average hours per listener fell to 5.8 from 6.3. 4 Extra has an annual programme budget of £4.1m, now largely spent on repeat rights with the April cancellation of The 4 O'Clock Show, the Children's Hour de nos jours. 6 Music has £7.9m.

In other news, Simon Bates' arrival at Radio Devon has added another 5,000 listeners to the station year-on-year.

For more scholarly analysis of the figures, try Matt Deegan and Adam Bowie.

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