JNLR: Radio Continues to Endure as Broadcasters Up their Game

    Oilbhe Doyle, Group Business Director, Carat

    With radio continuing to be the faithful companion to most Irish people, Oilbhe Doyle of Carat examines the latest batch of figures from the JNLR.

    As the upward trend in the mobile world continues, with startling facts such as incessantly checking our mobiles 150 times a day, (Google IPSOS 14) one could deduce that in the future mobile will overtake and surpass personal bonds with any other media.

    However, for the Irish, the latest JNLR figures released (Oct 15- Sept 16) very much confirm that for our nation no medium could look to replace the void of radio if we no longer had it.

    Over 95% of listening occurs on AM/FM radio and a mere 3% on mobile. This is in comparison with 27% of all adults who listen to the radio on a mobile or tablet in the UK market (Source RAJAR 2016) Radio continues to be the faithful companion to the Irish public, with 82% of us tuning in every day. This has remained relatively consistent over the years with minor +/-1% fluctuations.

    In the All Adult bracket, the amount of time that we listen every day has increased from 4.15 hours to 4.22.  Younger target audiences, in particular 15-19yr olds are the hardest to recruit, as they grew up in this mobile entrenched world and have a plethora of choices when it comes to entertaining themselves and discovering new music – streaming, Spotify, podcasts, YouTube all vying for their attention. That said, there has only been a marginal decrease in this age bracket in time spent listening, going from 2.57 hours to 2.37 hours.

    The real winning stations in radio land, are those that have moved with the times, taken the “on air” to “off air”, constantly changing, questioning and above all engaging with their audiences to future proof their businesses. As advertisers, we have also realised the power of radio platforms and seldom is it a simple spot buy anymore but a 360 partnership utilising social channels.

    The 45+ audience, an audience that radio is more entrenched for, having grown up with the medium,  are spending more and more time listening, with 45-54’s listening for 4.30 hours (up 0.12), 55-54’s, listening for 5.02 hours (up 0.37) and the over 55’s listening to 5.28 hours (up 0.07).


    RTÉ Radio 1 continues to be the dominant force for the ‘All Adults’ audience with 24% daily reach nationally and an audience of 880,000, gaining 12,000 listeners since the last book, and increasing market share by 1.50%.  It’s sister station Lyric, has maintained a 4% daily reach, gained 2,000 listeners but reduced overall market share by 0.10%.

    The story on 2FM is not as bright, decreasing daily reach by 2% to come in at 9%, losing 59,000 listeners, and a reduction of 1% in overall market share.  2FM’s new strategy of appealing to a younger target, has succeeded in shifting the older audiences with 35,000 of 35-64 year olds tuning out.  However, this has not resulted in increasing the younger audience, as the 15-34 year old demographic is also down by 24,000. With 57% of the 2FM listenership still over 35, the station still has a job to do in the recruitment and retention of the younger demographic.

    It was a similar story for Today FM, losing 56,000 listeners, and dropping in daily reach from 13% to 11%, national market share has dropped marginally by 0.40% to bring it  in at 7.5%.

    Newstalk, has recorded losses of 35,000 listeners, its reach has dropped by a percentile to 10% daily,  however, this figure still puts Newstalk 1% ahead of 2FM and neck in neck with its sister station – Today FM, now only 1% behind in reach, Newstalks’ share stands at 6%. With a recently revamped schedule it will be interesting to see how Newstalk performs over the course of the next few books.


    Breakfast, always the heartbeat of a stations’ schedule shows that Morning Ireland continues to be, not only the most popular radio show in Ireland, but also the biggest morning show, with 444,000 listeners tuning in on weekday mornings.  Meanwhile, over on Today FM, Ian Dempsey has lost 15,000 listeners.  2FM will be disappointed that the change in time blocks hasn’t helped them to increase listeners, Breakfast Republic has lost 51,000 listeners.

    In the mid- morning period, RTE’s Sean O’ Rourke has lost a marginal 3,000 listeners, while Nicky Byrne has lost 32,000.  Newstalk recently changed its schedule (September 5th) and as a result increased time blocks are not fully comparable, albeit, the decision to give Pat Kenny another hour on air in its infancy is showing an increase of 12,000 listeners. Over on Today FM,  Anton Savage  has not quite completed a full tenure in his position (replacing Ray D’Arcy) so it won’t be until full year books that we can fully analyse his slot, albeit this book is showing a 30,000 decrease in this slot.

    Joe Duffy continues to be relentless, another great book for him with an increase of 24,000.   Again, constant changing schedules and presenters means we don’t have full year data until January on how Ray D’Arcy is performing but all the indicators are positive with the time slot up 17,000 in this book.

    In Drive Time, RTÉ Radio 1 is down slightly by 10,000, while The Last Word has also lost 17,000.  It is too early to see the impact of George Hook moving to an earlier time slot on Newstalk, and what it will mean for Newstalk Drive.


    RTÉ Radio 1’s dominant performance continues in the Dublin market, despite an overall 5,000 drop, it has increased market share of All Adults by 1.5% and retains the highest share at 35.5%. No other national station increased market share in Dublin, with marginal decreases across 2FM, Today FM and Newstalk.

    For the Dublin only stations, FM104 continue their longstanding position of first place at 10.7% market share, however the big news in Dublin is 98FM, the only station in the Dublin market gaining listeners – an extra 12,000 which now pushes them into 2nd place at 7.8% market share. 98FM has been making slow and steady gains for the last 2 years so will be delighted with this bump up, albeit it has pushed their sister station Spin 103.8 into 3rd place, standing at 6% market share in Dublin.

    The re-brand for Sunshine has worked well over the last few books, despite a marginal loss of 2,000 listeners, they have increased market share by 0.8%


    The buoyancy and erratic swings that we have previously witnessed in the Cork market seem to have settled somewhat.  Cork Red FM and 96FM remain neck in neck, despite both stations loosing 5,000 listeners each, Red has come out on top in market share at 21.1% and 96FM coming in at 18.5%. C103FM has had some positive gains, with an increase of 9,000 listeners and a 1% increase in market share, bringing them in at 14.6%.

    All positive news stories in Galway, Limerick and Waterford.  Galway Bay increased listeners by 8,000, Limerick 95 FM increased by 4,000 and WLR  by 1,000 listeners.

    Oilbhe Doyle is Group Business Director with Carat.

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