Wireless Group is launching two digital-only stations with the aim of diversifying and developing the Virgin Radio brand.
Virgin Radio Anthems and Virgin Radio Chilled started broadcasting today.
Both stations will broadcast the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on January 21, which will run without commercial interruptions and instead feature competitions and branded content events in partnership with Sky. Wireless will sell commercials for the channels for the remainder of the day.
David Wilcox, National Sales Manager for Wireless, and his team are responsible for selling ad inventory on new channels. The Wilcox team began working with other sales teams across News UK to identify cross-sell opportunities across all platforms.
Virgin Radio Anthems will target audiences 35 and over with “guitar-led classics” and “audience pleasures from the 60s to the 90s”. The channel will also broadcast feature films focusing on classic albums and important music birthdays.
Meanwhile, Virgin Radio Chilled caters to 25-44 year olds with a “more relaxed” repertoire that will feature easy-to-listen and acoustic hits, as well as exclusive recorded sessions like BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge.
This decision echoes the measures taken by commercial radio groups to develop their flagship brands with variants on DAB. The most popular digital-only commercial station, Bauer’s Kisstory, reached 2.16 million listeners in Rajar’s latest listening figures after its launch on DAB in 2014. Virgin Radio has an average reach of 414,000 weekly listeners – way below that of other big digital names – only chains such as Global’s Capital Xtra (1.84 million) and Bauer’s Absolute 80s (1.76 million).
Francis Currie, Group Content Director – Music Radio at Wireless, said: “Virgin Radio Anthems and Chilled demonstrate our commitment to putting our listeners at the heart of what we do. They build on the DNA of the Virgin Radio UK brand and I am sure they will provide the perfect mix of music for our existing listeners, as well as attract new audiences with their must-have playlists. “
Wireless was acquired by News UK, the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, in 2016.
Last year News UK promoted sales manager Dominic Carter to group sales manager, with responsibility for all advertising sales for newspaper and radio brands.