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Hits Radio rebrand fails to turn around Key 103’s performance

Gemma Atkinson

This morning’s official radio listening figures show that Hits Radio Manchester is continuing to lose listeners.

The station, previously Key 103, was relaunched in June in a multimillion pound rebrand. Over the last few years, Key 103, had seen its listening figures fall, particularly since the arrival of Capital Manchester.

In the last quarter, the station’s reach was 374,000, this quarter it fell to 324,000.

The national Hits Radio operation has, however, remained stable at 6.4m listeners.

Remaining in the North West, MediaCityUK’s BBC Radio 5 live saw increased listening over the period, up to 5.03m, compared to 4.73m over the previous period. However, it hasn’t quite reached the 5.07m it recorded during the same period last year.

Sister station, Radio 5 live sports extra did see higher year-on-year figures, with 1.67m weekly listeners (1.64m in 2017).

The BBC also had 25.5m downloads of its podcasts, of which 4.7m were made by Radio 5 Live.

“More than 34m people tune in to BBC Radio each week and the latest figures shows we have both stabilised linear listening and grown digital. Whilst millions continue to listen every day we’ve also been reinventing radio to expand our digital offer for the increasing number of online listeners,” said Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music.

“We’ve focused on both digital live listening and on demand, and last month we had a record number of podcast downloads in the UK. Next week we launch BBC Sounds bringing more content than ever before to audiences on a new digital platform.”

That change in listening is also reflected in the digital figures, which have further increased over the period. Now 52.4% of radio listeners tune in via digital. BBC 6 Music remains the most popular digital-only operation, with 2.52m listeners.

DAB is still the most popular way to listen to digital, however, online and apps are gaining ground.

Looking at the regional picture, BBC Radio Manchester had another fall in listeners, recording 184k, compared to 198k in the last quarter. Better news at BBC Radio Leeds, which was up 10k, to 174k, while Radio Merseyside lost 4k listeners, with a weekly reach of 276k.

Radio Lancashire has fallen back from its high of 197k last quarter, but remains at 191k, from a low of 146k listeners.

Yorkshire Coast Radio is recording a “historic audience high”, with 54,900 people tuning into the radio, or 53% of the local adult population.

“Yorkshire Coast Radio celebrates its 25th birthday in November, to be able to celebrate that with our highest ever audience figures shows just how relevant local radio is in people’s lives,” stated managing director, Chris Sigsworth.

“Having been with the station since the very first day of broadcasting, it has been rewarding to see how Yorkshire Coast Radio has become a part of everyday life to thousands of people in the area.”

Fellow Yorkshire station, Minster FM, also witnessed an increase in listeners, with 80,000 people tuning in. That comes following its takeover of the Star North East frequencies.

“Since taking over the Thirsk and Northallerton frequencies we’ve committed ourselves to running separate locally relevant content in those towns wherever possible,” stated content director and presenter David Green.

“Now we’re seeing the returns as listeners in our new extended area turn to Minster FM for the same great mix of locally relevant news, travel, entertainment and music as neighbouring areas have been doing for over a quarter of a century.”

 

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