The latest round of RAJAR results – covering January to March 2020 – sees a solid performance for the Wireless national network, delivering 4.8m listeners and 33.9m listening hours, up 7.5% on the same period last year.
The talkSPORT network reached 3.2m listeners in the quarter, with 21.1m listening hours, while live sport channel talkSPORT 2 delivered record reach (489k) and record hours (1.6m) in a period which saw the station gain praise for its coverage of England Cricket’s tour of South Africa, coverage of the Cheltenham Festival and the live Saturday afternoon GameDay coverage.
talkSPORT reached 3m listeners in the quarter, accounting for 19.5m listening hours. The channel’s Breakfast Show also recorded its highest ever first quarter reach. The Breakfast Show got even bigger in April with Laura Woods, Freddie Flintoff and Ally McCoist hosting the show from Monday to Wednesday, with the legendary Alan Brazil in the chair on Thursday and Friday.
The network also scooped the newly launched Network of the Year award at the Sports Journalism Awards in February and has subsequently launched an array of new programming to keep sports fans smiling through lockdown including bolstering its specialist documentary output, starting with new series Up Front With featuring star strikers including Gary Lineker and Dimitar Berbatov.
Wireless CEO Scott Taunton said: “This is a strong set of results for the talkSPORT network. While a lack of live sport in the last couple of months has been far less than ideal, I’m happy to say that the team has stepped up its creativity and called on its amazing contacts to continue delivering must-listen content for sports fans across the UK. The network is well placed to take full advantage of the return of live sport.”
Meanwhile talkRADIO delivers another quarter of record results, with listening hours up 97% year-on-year to 2.7m, while reach stands at 424k, up 25% year-on-year. The station is the go-to destination for senior politicians and respected pundits with expert opinion. Presenters including Julia Hartley-Brewer and Mike Graham are providing vital analysis of current affairs through one of the most turbulent times in modern history.
The drive time slot delivered record results, up 22% year-on-year, following the arrival of Dan Wootton as presenter, bringing high profile guests from politics to showbiz into his agenda-setting conversation.
Scott said: “talkRADIO continues to be the natural destination for listeners wanting a punchy perspective on politics and current affairs.”
The Virgin Radio Network – which includes Virgin Radio, Virgin Radio Anthems, Virgin Radio Chilled and new launch station Virgin Radio Groove – increased reach by 17% to 1.7m, with listening hours up 18% year-on-year to 10.1m.
The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky remains the UK’s most listened-to digital national breakfast show. In the period, Chris welcomed a slew of A-list guests including Tom Hanks, David Schwimmer, Rob Bryden, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Jon Bon-Jovi, Alexa Chung and Rachel Johnson.
Scott said: “Our investment in the Virgin Radio Network – including our latest new launch station, Virgin Radio Groove – is paying off. Virgin Radio is thriving across the schedule and Chris Evans continues to deliver event radio. In the last fortnight alone he has raised over £1.1m for NHS charities through his celebrity auctions and earlier in the week he hosted 100 listeners – via zoom – for a very special Brassic competition with Sky.”
Belfast-based local radio station U105 reached 223k listeners in the period, with 1.7m listening hours.
Wireless is set to launch a new national digital speech station this summer in partnership with The Times and The Sunday Times. Times Radio combines the trusted, quality news and analysis synonymous with The Times and The Sunday Times with the award-winning audio expertise of Wireless. In a world of noise and confusion, the station will be a major new voice in speech radio in the UK, delivering balanced and impartial news to listeners in a useful and engaging way.
Scott added: “The national emergency caused by COVID-19 underlines the need for quality journalism and expert commentary. There has never been a better time to launch Times Radio and with a roster of talented broadcasters including John Pienaar, Aasmah Mir, Michael Portillo and Stig Abell, it’s guaranteed to find an audience.”