Digital listening approaches 50% threshold

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Digital listening reached a new record share of 49.9%, compared to 45.2% in Q4 2016, according to RAJAR Q4 2017 data. The growth was driven by a surge in digital listening for commercial radio stations, which for the first time exceed 50% at 51.6%, up from 45% in Q4 2016.

The growth in commercial digital listening was boosted by strong audience growth across a number of stations including Radio X, which increased reach by 26% year on year to 1.58 million listeners;  Kisstory, which increased by 22.3% to 1.71 million listeners; Kiss Fresh with grew 17.5% to 578,000 listeners; Virgin Radio which grew 46% to 483,000 listeners; and the on-going success of Heart 80s, reaching 1.17 million listeners in its third quarter on air.

Digital listening to BBC stations grew to 48.3% from 45.5% in Q4 2016, with BBC Radio 4 exceeding 50% digital listening for the first time at 50.7% and a new record audience for its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra, reaching 2.26 million listeners.

Digital listening grew across all platforms, with the fastest growth this quarter being to online/apps which increased by 13.2% in hours to account for 8.5% share of all radio listening and 17% of digital listening. The majority of digital listening is via DAB digital radio which grew 9.2% in hours to account for 36.3% share of all radio listening or 72.8% of digital listening.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music with a weekly reach of 2.34 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra (2.26 million). Kisstory (1.71 million) is the most popular commercial digital-only station, with Absolute 80s taking the second spot with a weekly reach of 1.47 million listeners.

In car digital listening hours have grown by 25% year on year, an increase of 15.9 million hours, and reached a new record share of 32%. DAB digital listening in cars contributed to 50% of all DAB digital listening growth.

Digital Radio UK chief executive Ford Ennals said: “Listening on a digital platform is fast becoming the norm for all age groups with nearly 50% of all listening now being digital. This quarter we have seen a strong surge in digital listening for commercial radio stations, which is now 51.6%, boosted by the strong audience growth of a number stations including Radio X, Kisstory, Kiss Fresh, Virgin Radio, and the success of new station Heart 80s, to name a but a few. On the BBC, it’s great see the iconic BBC Radio 4 having over 50% digital listening for the first time and a new record audience for its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra.”

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