Online radio listening up during lockdown - but no RAJAR figures for Q2

Online radio listening up during lockdown - but no RAJAR figures for Q2

It was the supposed to be the day when the radio industry rejoiced at the blockbuster ratings figures for Q2, a period when much of the population was at home during lockdown.

But those figures have not materialised, as RAJAR has admitted it was unable to complete an audience survey for the crucial period. Because RAJAR figures are based on door-to-door surveys, it proved impossible for the organisation to gather listening data for the period.

While that would have been a welcome good news story for a sector hit by an advertising revenue downturn during Covid-19, stations have their own online listening data. 

In the latest issue of Music Week, Kiss Network content director Rebecca Frank revealed that listening on connected devices surged during the lockdown period.

Bauer Radio has reported streaming up 10% in the week of July 20-26, compared to the week before lockdown, peaking at an increase of 40% during the hot weather of May 25-31.

Bauer Radio listening hours were up 16% during July 20-26 compared to the week before lockdown. Streaming via mobile increased by 23%, while smart speaker listening increased by 31%.

Comparing the same period, Greatest Hits Network was up 24%, Kiss Network was up 22%, Kiss Dance was up 52%, Country Hits was up 44% and Scala was up 15%.

Kiss recorded its highest streaming figures in April as a result of Kiss Fest, with Kiss Network’s reach increasing by 38% during lockdown compared to beforehand, and hours increasing by 27%. Absolute Radio recorded its highest ever streaming figures on May 8, driven by Absolute Radio 40s VE Day pop-up station.

Simon Kilby, chief revenue officer, Bauer Radio, said: “Streaming of Bauer radio stations has increased significantly and continues to remain strong even as lockdown eases. Bauer listeners have adopted more digital listening habits via smartphones and smart speakers and have particularly engaged with Bauer’s varied genre-specific radio content and virtual events. Radio’s robust performance has given our advertisers a consistently agile, efficient and effective platform that they have been able to rely on during challenging times.”

Global stations have reported a boost in online listening during Q2. While they are not official ratings figures like RAJAR, they do at least provide a snapshot for the quarter.

Global first reported a boost in connected listening across its entire portfolio of radio brands in early March, as many people began working remotely. The latest figures show huge growth year-on-year and throughout Q2 (March 30, 2020 – June 21, 2020).

Year-on-year, Global reports that connected listening sessions across its portfolio of radio brands have risen 40% whilst listening hours have shot up 59%. As the country continued lockdown and social isolation, Global saw listening sessions to its radio stations increase 8% and hours climb 14% quarter-on-quarter. 

In addition to data obtained via Global Player, Global conducted eight waves of tracking with partners Dynata, engaging with more than 8,400 people since March 18. The survey confirmed that 42% of people said that they now listen to more radio. 

Our connected listening figures show how millions more listeners engaged with Global in this period

Ashley Tabor-King

Ashley Tabor-King, founder & executive president of Global, said: “Our connected listening figures show how millions more listeners engaged with Global in this period, across many different platforms, be it on-air or on Global Player via our apps, the web or smart speakers. We continue to focus on producing the nation’s favourite radio, and I would like to sincerely thank the team at Global for their exceptional creativity, hard work and resilience in this period.” 

Heart has seen connected listening soar in the last quarter, increasing its sessions by 18% and hours 15%. Heart’s new era stations – Heart 70s, 80s and 90s – enjoyed a 40% increase in active sessions and 36% increase in hours over the last quarter. 

Capital has seen listening sessions increase 13% and hours grow 15% in Q2. Capital Xtra, which has a breakfast show fronted by Yinka & Shayna Marie (pictured), saw active sessions increase 21% and hours increase 25%.

With many listeners craving nostalgia, connected listening for Smooth surged in Q2. Hours grew 78% and sessions increased by 67% year on year. Classic FM also enjoyed a surge in connected listening, with an increase of 21% in active sessions and hours growing 37% year-on-year.

Radio X continued its strong RAJARs performance in recent quarters. Connected hours were up by 73% and sessions increased 42% year-on-year. The station enjoyed a 27% growth in hours quarter on quarter.

Global has seen podcast listening rise 17% in the last quarter.

Siobhan Kenny, Radiocentre CEO, said: “Radio listening has been really strong during lockdown as listeners turn to their radio for trusted news and information, for company and as a welcome form of distraction during tough times. Radiocentre’s research showed listeners tuning in for longer at the early stages of lockdown, with the newly working from home listening for two hours extra a day, and radio stations responding to the thirst for news by providing 25% more news bulletins, running for nearly 30% longer. Advertisers have been quick to seize the flexibility, reach and speed to market which radio offers during this pandemic.”

While RAJAR has provided Q2 figures to stations based on the Q1 surveys updated with census data, they do not reflect the impact of Covid-19 on listening habits. RAJAR will issue insights on listening behaviour during lockdown in the coming weeks. 

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author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

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