Record-breaking UK commercial radio sets off into an app-driven future

Digital has won the media share game in the sense that it takes over half the ad market in most economies. But some older media are fighting back, especially when they show they can effectively harness digital bells and whistles.

Out of Home is one such, radio another.

New figures from the UK’s Advertising Association and data compiler Warc show that commercial radio inched up year on year in Q2 2019, with its share of hours up 2.3 per cent to reach a weekly average of 13.5 (up from 13.1). It now reaches a record 36.1m people in the UK although there’s still plenty of room for growth (a total population of 66m.)

The biggest driver for commercial radio was listening by – yes, you’ve guessed it – app with online/app listening up 34.4 year on year.

Radiocentre CEO Siobhan Kenny (below) says: “It’s turning out to be a yet another good year for commercial radio, with consistently strong audience numbers. Nine out of 10 people in the UK are tuning into radio every week, a remarkably strong performance over the last 20 years.

“The wide variety of stations the sector offers are resonating with more and more people. Of course, this is also good news for advertisers, who will see the growth in online and in-app listening as opportunities to reach their audiences in newer, often more tailored ways.”

Commercial radio in the UK has been helped by the state-owned BBC’s self-inflicted wounds, pulling funds from its popular programmes – on Radio 4 especially – to try to boost its Sounds app aimed at younger people. So far they seem unimpressed.

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