Virgin Radio, talkRADIO and talkSPORT have all delivered for Wireless in Q4, 2019, achieving more than five million listeners.
The latest round of RAJAR results – covering September to December 2019 – sees record numbers for the Wireless national network, breaking through 5m listeners for the first time. The network now reaches 5.1m listeners, up 37% year-on-year, with hours up 50% to 34.5m hours.
Meanwhile, Virgin Radio UK became the most listened-to national commercial digital station, 12 months after Chris Evans returned to his spiritual home.
The station now reaches 1.53m listeners, up 8% on the quarter, and delivers 9.9m listening hours, up 22% on the quarter. The Virgin Radio network – which also includes Virgin Radio Anthems and Virgin Radio Chilled – now reaches 1.76m listeners, up 7.5% on the quarter, and delivered 11.35m listening hours, up 22.8%.
The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, ad break-free in partnership with Sky, also delivered record audiences through the Virgin Radio network, where Chris’s show saw reach up 7% to 1.2m and listening hours up by 25% to 5.6m. His Virgin Radio UK show is now the most listened-to breakfast show on digital radio, including BBC digital channels.
Wireless CEO Scott Taunton said: “When Chris Evans returned to Virgin Radio UK, our vision was to become the UK’s biggest commercial digital station within two years. We’ve achieved that goal with 12 months to spare. I’m particularly pleased that we’re driving listening hours: the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky is already the most listened-to digital breakfast show in the UK. Led by Chris, the whole schedule continues to deliver record growth.”
Meanwhile the Wireless speech network (including talkSPORT, talkSPORT 2 and talkRADIO) now reaches 3.3m listeners, accounting for 21.2m listening hours a week in the quarter.
The talkSPORT network now reaches 3.1m listeners, who consume 18.7m hours of world-class commentary and analysis each week, delivered by the best in the business.
GameDay – the new Saturday schedule showcasing the station’s expanded Premier League live coverage – is becoming the destination for football fans who want to follow the action from the first kick to the last whistle. GameDay is fronted by a new line up headed by Reshmin Chowdhury and including Darren Bent, Trevor Sinclair, Martin Keown, Glen Johnson, Sam Matterface and Clive Tyldesley. GameDay listeners are up 18% on the quarter to over one million, accounting for 1.7m weekly listening hours, up 10%.
The period also saw talkSPORT launch Women’s Football Weekly, the only dedicated weekly women’s football show on the radio. The network continues to broadcast live from England’s cricket tour of South Africa and is looking ahead to more Betfred Super League action than ever before this season and an increased boxing offering.
Scott Taunton said: “For Premier League fans, talkSPORT is rapidly becoming the destination for live action on GameDay. With more than one million listeners – and growing – our new schedule and team of experts are delivering. We’re also seeing strong connected listening through our fast-growing app and via smart speakers, bringing more sports fans than ever to our increasing roster of live sport rights.”
Meanwhile, talkRADIO delivers another quarter of record results: with listeners up 43% year-on-year to 433k and hours up 94% year-on-year to 2.5m hours. The station has established itself as a real destination for punchy political discussion and opinion, with hosts including Julia Hartley-Brewer and Mike Graham delivering record reach and share. Last month, The Sun Executive Editor Dan Wootton was named as the new host of Drive Time on talkRADIO, starting later this month.
Scott said: “talkRADIO has been a natural destination for listeners wanting a punchy perspective on the general election. A new Government with a mandate for change should give plenty of opportunity for talkRADIO’s continued growth.
“Wireless now reaches more listeners, for more hours, than ever before. Meanwhile, our recently announced plans to launch Times Radio as a national digital station later this year underlines the commitment of News UK and Wireless to continue leading the way in the UK radio sector.”