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Multiplex switch triggers Absolute 80s and Planet Rock audience slide

Coverage changes caused fluctuations in listening figures

Changes to the availability of some stations on DAB has caused fluctuations for some of the UK's most listened to digital radio stations.

While BBC Radio 6 Music continues to be the most listened to digital only radio station, gaining 10% reach over the past year, number 1 commercial competitor Absolute 80s has undone its audience gains over the past year, losing nearly 140,000 listeners during the second quarter of 2016 compared to the first. This follows the station's migration to new capacity on the Sound Digital DAB multiplex, which has lower UK coverage, a process that was completed at the end of April following a simulcast period.

Planet Rock, which also moved to DAB capacity with less UK coverage, has plummeted from reaching 1,265,000 listeners at the beginning of 2016 to 986,000 listeners during the second quarter, down 9.9% year-on-year, but losing nearly a quarter of listeners in recent months, wiping out massive increases in audiences during late 2015.

Greater coverage for Kisstory helped the station record a 5.5% year-on-year increase to 1,540,000 listeners. Outside of the top 10, sister station Kiss Fresh jumped 3% year-on-year reaching 593,000 listeners.

BBC Radio 1Xtra surged 12.6% year-on-year to reach 1,079,000 listeners, up from 1,038,000 during the first three months of the year.

Top 10 digital radio stations by reach April-June 2016. 

This listing now excludes any station that has an analogue outlet, such as BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio X and World Service (overnights on 198 LW). Previously stations with partial analogue coverage were included.

Reminder: Year-on-year percentages cover audience changes since Q2 2015 and are favoured as providing a more stable long-term audience trend. The figures in the right column for Q1 2016 are a one-off addition for readers, added to highlight some of the bigger changes following multiplex changes and the changes between Q2 and Q1 are only partially reflected in the year-on-year figures listed.  

Kisstory has increased coverage following the changes, whereas Absolute 80s and Planet Rock have lost coverage (and potential listeners) in this timeframe. The long-term trend will become apparent when the recent changes feed into the year-on-year figures early 2017.