Industry News

Commercial radio audience continues to soar

The latest RAJAR figures for the third quarter of 2023 reveal commercial radio has reached another historic milestone, with an unprecedented audience of 39.3 million listeners, up 1.1 million on the same period last year. Time spent listening to commercial radio has also grown by an impressive 5.6% year-on-year to 549.2 million hours per week.

The combined weekly audience for all BBC and commercial radio in the UK also remains steadfast at 49.5 million people, representing 88% of the adult population. Commercial radio’s share of listening is also strong at 54.1% which is up from 50.9% in Q3 2022.

Meanwhile, listening habits continue to shift towards online and digital formats. Over half of all online radio listening, which is 24.2% of all listening, is now taking place on smart speaker devices (13.8%). This is up from 23.6% and 13.4% respectively in Q3 2022. Share of online listening stands at 28.2% on commercial radio, compared to 19.1% for BBC Radio. For all radio, total combined digital listening is 70.3%, which is mainly DAB at 42.3%, but also online at 24.2%. This is up from 66% and 38.9% respectively in Q3 2022.

Despite the increased competition from other forms of media, commercial radio has experienced a 17.2% increase in listening hours over the last five years. This translates to an additional 80.5 million hours of listening per week, compared to Q3 2018. Over the same time period, reach has expanded by almost 10%, with commercial radio adding an extra 3.5 million listeners a week.

Radiocentre’s CEO Matt Payton said:

“It’s incredible to see commercial radio continuing to deliver such strong listening figures, demonstrating that advertisers can rely on radio to deliver them a growing audience.

The long-term growth trend should also come as no surprise. Radio has been a reliable companion, supporting listeners through the challenges of the pandemic and is now seamlessly integrating into the new hybrid-work way of life. This trend also came through strongly in Radiocentre’s Generation Audio research which identified ‘keeps me company’ as an important new need-state”.