How I Lost My Strava KOM

Did you know I had a Strava King of the Mountains?

No? Well neither did I.

First off, Strava is a social media app/site for cyclists and runners. You either use their app on your phone to record your ride or run, or sync the data from some other device you use to measure your pursuits. In my case, I use a Garmin GPS bike computer and the data gets synced across to Strava.

In Strava’s world, paths and streets are divided up into often quite arbitrary segments – say a hill climb, or a long stretch of road. Anyone can determine where a segment is, and they’re all over the place. Once listed, anyone recording their ride is automatically checked against segments, and you get a ranking.

Here’s an example of a hill climb I sometimes do if I ride the whole way home from work. It’s near Highgate Cemetary.


On that particular segment I’m fairly lowly ranked.

Indeed the only time I’ve ever knowingly had a KOM was when Strava one year introduced an annual KOM for segments, and I won a couple by virtue of going for a ride on New Year’s morning – i.e. before anyone else had got up!

Anyway, I was intrigued by the KOM I had just “lost” so I had a look. The segment is a short stretch – 100m – of road parallel to both Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street. There’s not much opportunity to build up a great deal of speed to beat any records. It’s also flat.

In September last year, I apparently completed the segment in 9 seconds at a speed of 78.1 km/h!

On my Brompton.

To put that in perspective, Jason Kenny won the Keirin in Rio at 71kph.

If I could sustain 78kph for any length of road, I too should have been in Rio!

And I was beaten, I should point out. The new KOM did it in 100.8kph. Truly remarkable!


Of course the reason for this is that GPS bike computers aren’t always completely accurate. There are tall buildings everywhere in London, and if GPS satellites aren’t well placed, the accuracy drifts. It would only take a 40-50m drift to suddenly give me a ridiculous burst of speed as far as measurement was concerned, especially over a segment as short as this.

But I’ve lost my KOM, and I am a bit sad.

Best-Selling Folk Music… According to Amazon

I have fairly broad musical tastes – it’s why I struggle when people ask me what kind of music I’m into. A couple of weekends ago, for example, you could have found me watching the Pet Shop Boys at the Royal Opera House on Saturday night, and the next day in a field in Hertfordshire at the always excellent Folk by the Oak festival.

Amazon is famed for it’s ecommerce prowess, and I must confess that I make full use of the next day delivery that Prime offers. So I’ve bought music in plenty of genres from Amazon, still mostly preferring CD to download (let’s not even mention “rental” here).

Amazon tries to learn from my buying patterns and likes to send me suggestions of what to buy next. Having bought a few folk albums from them, they naturally like to send me a regular email entitled Best-selling folk music..

It’s awful.

Here are a few genuine emails I’ve had from them so far in 2016:



Featured are Jame Bay, Adele, Mumford & Sons and Eva Cassidy. Mumford & Sons, I could just about allow as folk, and Eva Cassidy has certainly sung folk, although this album would best be considered jazz. But sorry – not Adele or James Bay!



Wow. All of these comfortably count as folk music. What’s more, this email is actually telling me about interesting new folk music.



Well Bellowhead Live is a great choice to be promoting. The Gloaming and Sandy Denny are fine too. But Daniel O’Donnell? Well I suppose I’ll allow it. I mean he’s definitely not Pop and Rock.



Just in case you thought their algorithms were learning, then fear not, because April saw two Adele albums, a James Bay album and George Ezra. I wouldn’t count any as folk.

June (I can’t see a May email)


Again, I can just about allow Mumford & Sons, and indeed Christy Moore. I’m not familiar with Max Jury but he perhaps straddles folk and country. And yes, Simon and Garfunkel I suppose could be folk too – their version of Scarborough Fair is on it after all. Maybe the algorithm is improving?

August (Again, no July email)


Ah – we’re back to Adele and James Bay again. But there’s also a Ministry of Sound compilation album no less! An unlikely label to be releasing folk. The album is subtitled “The perfect blend of laid back & acoustic covers.” Well… okay… but… Artists featured include Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, Sia, Ella Eyre and Florence + The Machine. So I really don’t think this counts.

I think I know what’s happening here.

Amazon obviously categorises every album they get into multiple categories. They’re effectively trying to add it to lots of categories to make sure every album is eminently discoverable. But that means that the same massive selling albums appear everywhere. And that means when they send an email like this, it makes a complete nonsense of it.

But it does seem that I’m getting two very different types of emails of “best-selling folk.” And very occasionally, Amazon might actually highlight a decent new folk album.

But mostly it wants to alert me about Adele’s older work, which seems entirely unnecessary, and most irrelevant, fine singer though she undoubtedly is.

RAJAR Q2 2016


Once again, this post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 9 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I continue to be delighted to be able to bring you this analysis in association with them. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

All views here are clearly my own!

Early August means the results of RAJAR Q2 2016, and most of the new second national DAB multiplex (D2) services are reporting for the first time.

The first thing to note is that overall listening is at its highest ever for radio. 48.687m people listening to the radio each week. While listening hours aren’t at a similarly high record level, the average radio listener listens for a solid 21.5 hours a week.

You can perhaps partially attribute this record to that launch of those new commercial services, which in the main have a cumulative effect on radio listening. And commercial reach has overtaken the BBC’s again, with 35.570m people listen to commercial radio each week – another all time high.

(It’s fair to add at this point that RAJAR updates its estimate of the UK population in Q2 each year, so if radio listening remains constant, then you would expect numbers to increase proportionately with the population regardless. But we do know that there are some real challenges at the younger end of the age spectrum for radio, so this remains a good result.)

New Services and National

This quarter saw the launch of no fewer than six completely new services on D2, as well as the movement across from D1 or up from local multiplexes, of a number of other services.

But I must confess that I’m interested in a couple of specific stations in particular. First off, Virgin Radio reports for the first time. It has delivered a reach of 409,000 with 1,453,000 listening hours – a result that seemed to be good enough to send everyone off to the pub on Wednesday afternoon!

Now the key thing here is any possible misattribution.

Recall that I previously looked after ratings for Virgin Radio as it changed to Absolute Radio back in September 2008. We were acutely aware that no matter how big our marketing budget (and it was never going to big enough), many listeners would continue to think of the station as Virgin Radio. If they were long term listeners, they might have been listening for 15 years at that point. And the station adopted a more adult approach of rebranding, slowly morphing from Virgin to Absolute, rather than the more usual ‘off air on Friday, back on air with new format on Monday’ approach that more regularly happens. The majority of the presenters remained the same, and the music was only very slightly tweaked – probably not enough that the average listener would notice. So the big job was to expunge the old name and get people calling the station by its new one.

As far as RAJAR went, we had a label in diaries that said something like “Absolute Radio (was Virgin Radio)” which is pretty typical, and helps respondents navigate the name change. Capital Liverpool still refers to Juice on its label, for example.

Of course the station initially took a massive hit in listening figures, and that label referencing Virgin Radio remained in RAJAR diaries for many subsequent quarters – indeed years. It takes a long time for people to forget a station’s name.

And now we get the new Virgin Radio, with the same logo, but nearly all new presenters. The music mix isn’t the same as Absolute Radio, although the new Virgin shares just under a third of its playlist (at time of writing) with Absolute.

So take that into account when you’re considering its figures. Looking at its figures in comparison with the other new launches from the Wireless Group (or should that be News Corp now?), this feels a little high for the first set of numbers. But then Absolute Radio has gone up this quarter too very slightly (see below), so maybe all is fine. One to watch…

What about the other new launches? TalkSport 2 saw a reach of 285,000 and 913,000 hours. As expected, they’ve picked up Absolute Radio’s second pick of Saturday afternoon Premier League football commentaries, so this may take time to grow as they build out their portfolio of sports.

TalkRadio is at 224,000 reach and 840,000 hours. That’s going to need to grow since speech radio isn’t cheap. I suspect that the success of this will be down to marketing. Fortunately for all of their stations, having a new owner who owns a series of national newspapers (and has interests via a parent company in a satellite TV network), marketing might prove to be a bit more achievable in the medium term.

In any case, these are decent results, and all have plenty of room to grow.

Mellow Magic achieved a respectable 380,000 audience, with nearly 1.6m listening hours, while Magic Chilled (which is DAB+ recall, so not available on all DAB radios even within the D2 transmission area) reached 233,000 listeners for 601,000 hours. I suspect Bauer will be perfectly happy with both as something to build on, and something to add into a Magic Network national sales proposition.

As an aside, Magic has also been running a series of pop-up DAB stations. We’ve had Magic Abba, and right now there’s Magic Soul Summer. Sadly, these don’t get measured by RAJAR as they’re on-air too briefly.

The final completely new service on D2 is Awesome Radio, but I don’t believe that it is currently being measured by RAJAR.

Elsewhere, there’s no doubt that Radio 1 has had another shocker, down 4.6% on the quarter and 9.4% on the year in reach terms. 9,455,000 is its lowest reach since 2003, and there are no immediate signs of improvement. Listening is actually up a little on the quarter, but also down on the year. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned previously, I believe this to be a larger problem than Radio 1 and more “radio” – although arguably Kiss is bucking the trend (see below).

Radio 2 is down a little, but nothing to be concerned about, with 15.3m listeners and “only” 179,000,000 hours, or 17% of all radio listening!

Radio 3 has had its best reach figures since 2011 at 2.2m, all the more surprising for not happening in a Proms period (they’ve just started). Hours are down a bit though. Meanwhile over at Classic FM, they’ve bounced back from last quarter’s very poor results, up 7.6% in reach to 5.5m. Cue lots of headlines about a classical music resurgence, which I don’t believe is true.

Radio 4 has had its best ever reach under the current methodology (i.e. since at least 1999), with just over 11.5m listeners. Can we put this squarely down to coverage of Brexit? Perhaps we can. Hours are also up, if not quite at record-breaking levels.

5Live also saw gains in the period – albeit, more modest – up 1.5% in reach to 5.858m reach.

Absolute Radio was fractionally up with a reach of 2.185m listeners this quarter, although listening was down. It’ll be worth watching closely with regard to any issues over misattribution as I mentioned above.

Talksport also had a good quarter, jumping 6.5% in reach and 15.4% in hours on the previous quarter. Perhaps it was helped by the a decent end of the season story and notably Leicester City? (Although arguably that should have also affected 5Live.)


Last quarter, you may recall, RAJAR reallocated listening to platforms for those who failed to record it properly. This led to something of a “bump” for digital listening. It rose to 44.1%.

So this quarter, it was going to be interesting to see if that one-time increase would slow growth. Q1 was also the quarter that new Christmas DAB sets tended to inflate numbers a little.

Well it turns out that it hasn’t dampened growth, and we’ve seen listening increase again to 45.3% of all listening hours now being on a digital platform. What’s more, of those who listen to the radio, 78.6% now choose to listen for at least some of their listening time via a digital platform.

Needless to say, these are both all-time highs.

Breaking that 45.3% down, 32.2% of listening is via a DAB radio (a record), while 8.0% is via the internet (also a record). Only DTV is fairly settled at 5.1%.

Streaming grows as broadband improves, smartphones become more normal, and data plans increase. In another year or so, we might be at one in ten hours of radio being streamed in the UK.

I was disappointed, but not at all surprised to see that Absolute 80s has registered a fall this quarter. Recall that this was the largest commercial digital only station. Last quarter Bauer moved it from the D1 to D2 multiplex. Unfortunately, there is significantly less coverage for D2, and stations like Absolute that moved across, saw decreases in availability. Maybe it was due a dip anyway, but it exhibited an 8.1% fall in reach and 9.9% fall in hours on the previous quarter.

Not everyone can switch to streamed listening or the digital television when they lose their DAB signal.

6 Music has another record reach, up fractionally on last quarter’s record reach to nearly 2.3m listeners listening for nearly 22m hours.

Radio 4 Extra seems to have rebounded a little from last quarter’s disappointing results, back to nearly 2m listeners.

Asian Network achieved an all-time record reach of 676,000 which will please them.

The BBC World Service was basically flat in reach (-0.8% on the quarter) at 1.454m, but down 5.5% in hours.

Finally, LBC is worth examining. Reach and hours across the network are at record highs under the current methodology. It’s reach is now 1.729m, up a massive 12.3% this quarter, and 16.7% on the year, while hours are even better with 17.5m up 15% on the quarter and 20% on the year. I think we can squarely put that gain down to Brexit, and indeed the question is whether they can hang onto that listening in future quarters. A really excellent performance.


The Kiss Network is an interesting one to keep an eye on. It seems to be continuing to grow, building out Kisstory and Kiss Fresh. And what’s interesting is that all the Kiss brands are young, with Kiss aged averaging 30, Kisstory 32, and Kiss Fresh 27. Radio 1 on the other hand averages 35. The Kiss Network has achieved a record 5.5m reach, up 5.4% on last quarter. And Kisstory is now only just behind Absolute 80s in the battle for best performing commercial digital station. Kiss and Kisstory also achieved record results in London.

The Capital Network is also growing, although we need to be careful because they’ve grown their portfolio of stations too. This quarter, the network is up 3.9% in hours to nearly 7.9m listeners, while hours have also grown very solidly by 7.4%.

The Heart Network isn’t doing quite as well, falling slightly this quarter in reach and hours. Nothing disastrous, but it doesn’t feel that Heart Extra has had any effect so far. But there is a curiosity here. Heart Extra is a service I can listen to on DAB, but it doesn’t arrive on RAJAR until Q3 since it launched mid-period [Updated].

The Absolute Network suffered a small drop down 1.6% in reach and 1.3% in hours. Nothing major – but it would seem to be driven by Absolute 80s.

Finally we have the brand new Magic Network placing a strong benchmark figure of 3.7m listeners. We’ll see how it does from here on in.


Grimmy on Radio 1 has held his show flat this quarter, which is actually a pretty decent result when compared with the station’s overall performance. He is down 7% on the previous year however. But a solid result in the circumstances.

Over on Radio 2, Chris Evans has perhaps been temporarily distracted by Top Gear – the press certainly has (has a TV show ever had its production pored over by the press in such detail?). His radio show is down a modest 2.6% to 9.472m, but down a little less on the year. Nothing to worry about here as he now concentrates on his breakfast show.

Christian O’Connell had a great set of results last quarter, so it is perhaps not surprising that he’s slipped back this time a little. But he fell just 0.1% or by 2,000 listeners. I’m sure both Bauer and Christian will be very happy with 1.923m listeners! Listening is up too.

People are always interested in how Chris Moyles is doing. As already mentioned, Moyles featured in another heavy TV campaign during at least part of this period. He’s actually down in audience a little this quarter to 694,000 nationally. This could be a slow build for Global.


Before talking about any particular London station, it’s always worth carefully looking at the market overall because we have seen some odd shifts around. Arguably, this quarter is no exception, with All Radio listening up 4.5% in reach and 9.7% in hours. Year on year changes are more steady, but this is worrying as it seems unlikely that overall behavioural listening patterns are changing quite so much. As ever with RAJAR, look for long term trends rather than short term blips.

Capital has lost a few listeners this quarter, down 0.9% to 2.266m (although up on the year), however it maintains its position and number one in London in reach terms.

In hours terms, Kiss can claim to be the “most listened to” commercial music station with a 17% bump in hours on the quarter, essentially righting a massive fall in hours last quarter. It’s reach is just behind Capital’s with 2.127m. So it looks like for the foreseeable future, Capital and Kiss will be slugging it out for commercial music dominance.

Heart has bounced bank from last quarter’s awful numbers, climbing 11.4% in reach to 1.724m, although it did see a fall in hours by 9.0%.

Magic on the other hand, fell back from last quarter by 6.5% to 1.632m listeners, while its hours improved 4.7%. Perhaps it was seeing some its listeners trial some sister services? (See more on this below).

LBC had a massive bump this quarter surpassing its national performance, jumping 29% in reach in London to 1.292m, and a frankly astonishing 61.5% in hours to 14.5m hours, making it the biggest commercially listened to station in London. The jump is so large as to almost be unbelievable. However, as mentioned above, there was Brexit during this quarter, and I think it’s fair to say that this was discussed more than once on LBC…

Radio X had a modest jump this quarter with a 31.2% increase in reach to 442,000, and a 27% increase in hours to 2.5m. The percentages are good, but the numbers are low.

And BBC Radio London had a massive jump from last quarter’s dismal numbers – up 44% in reach to 510,000 and 60% in hours to 3.7m. Again, could Brexit be part of this?

Sister Stations

Absolute Radio and the BBC paved the way – in essence copying something that TV had been doing prior to that. But we continue to see sub-brands or sister services popping up. We’ve had TalkSport 2, Mellow Magic and Magic Chilled just this quarter. And of course there are decades stations and Extra/Xtra stations a-plenty. But to what extent do these services share audiences with their brethren? (Yes – I’ve done this before.)

Since I’ve been chart-free so far this quarter, here’s an incomplete look at some of these services… charted! And since it’s hard to display overlaps beyond three services in just two dimensions, I’ve limited my analysis to the three biggest services within a group. Note that these are only very roughly to scale, and they default to the period over which both or all three stations would be reported.

Radio 1/1Xtra


Radio 4/Radio 4 Extra


Absolute Radio/Absolute 80s/Absolute Radio 90s


Capital/Capital Xtra – London


Magic/Mellow Magic/Magic Chilled


TalkSport/TalkRadio/Virgin Radio (by special request)


Further Reading

For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:

The official RAJAR site and their infographic is here
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for more lots analysis including London charts
Matt Deegan will have some great analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s corporate site.
Global Radio’s corporate site.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 26 June 2016, Adults 15+.

UPDATED to correct Virgin Radio’s reach.

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.

RideLondon 100 2016

RideLondon 100 Start at Stratford

For the second year running, I was fortunate enough to get into the RideLondon 100 via the ballot.

I had thought that the slightly increased numbers of competitors and the addition of a 46 mile option (only announced much later), might mean that everyone who wanted to, was able to enter. But that’s not true – and I know of a few people who try and repeatedly fail to get in. So it must be luck on my part.

RideLondon 100 Start at Stratford

Out of necessity, RideLondon is a staggered start, with competitors leaving in groups from the Olympic Park in Stratford between about 6am and 8.30am. When you start seems to be dependent on how fast you think you’ll manage the course. Essentially, the organisers want the faster riders at the front of the race to prevent them racing through a large pack of slower riders.

But starting earlier also means the roads are more manageable. This year I started at just after 7am and was aiming for a time of around 6 hours. That time, incidentally, would be measured by my GPS rather than the race time, to allow for a couple of breaks along the way. The year before I had started closer to 8am, and following my wheel-buckling incident, had ended up even further down. (Sadly, it seems that the shop in West Byfleet that bailed me out last year has since closed down).

What that meant was that Leith Hill was rideable, when last year it had been swamped with people walking their bikes up it. And there wasn’t a further problem for me at least, in Dorking where last year the weight of traffic (and pedestrians crossing the road) had meant me walking through the town centre.

I say that Leith Hill was rideable, but it’s horrible. Newlands Corner is much easier, and frankly Box Hill is a breeze since it’s a continuous gradient on a well surfaced road. It is slightly annoying that even after the summit, the road seems to continue to rise for a bit!

Then it’s downhill and over several lumps and bumps as you head back into town. I was trying to make up time a bit, and powered on through as best I could, hoping that gels would see me through. If truth be told, I should have eaten more, and I suffered on the second half of the course.

The final slog is in Wimbledon which seems to finish off some people. I was just ploughing through now. My main issue was that my feet were hurting. Otherwise I was fine.

The finish on The Mall was great fun, then it’s through to collect a medal, be handed a goody bag and face the throngs in Green Park. I really wanted some food, but the queues were enormous so I settled on an overpriced ice-cream before heading back home.

My time was just faster than last year – but only by a minute. That’s disappointing and really was a result of the second half of the race. More care with nutrition would help. And a few more miles closer to the date would as well. Plus some weight off me wouldn’t harm either.

It’s both essential and annoying that the professional men’s road race doesn’t finish until well after the sportive, but the prospect of kicking my heels in Green Park for five hours to wait for them to come through just didn’t appeal. So I settled in to watch the race on the sofa at home. David Millar on a motorbike is great fun – but it was a shame that the event organisers’ technology failed for the last few miles. I believe that this was a SweetSpot issue rather than a BBC one. But kudos to Ian Stannard and especially Geraint Thomas for shaking things up in a race that has thus far routinely ended in a sprint.

The Good

  • The wide and colourful variety of people entering
  • The roadside cheering, from the groups supporting their charities, to residents of south London and Surry.
  • The well organised hubs and drinks stations. All were well stocked – at least when I visited.
  • The chap I saw completing the ride on a Boris Bike (I feel I’m not going to call them “Boris” Bikes much longer).
  • The couple I saw on what I could only describe as “shopper” bikes!
  • The Bromptons and tandems. I wouldn’t want to spend 100 miles staring at someone’s backside.
  • The top-tube sticker that RideLondon supplied with details of all the hills and and drinks places.

The Bad

  • The accidents – too many people going too fast and not paying attention to the road. I only saw the results of crashes with exception of a guy flung from his bike by not seeing a speed bump in Richmond Park. But one cyclist looked like they were seriously injured and I know the air ambulance was out.
  • Aero-helmets! Come on people – what are you thinking? Tri-bars are banned because, well, this isn’t a time trial. Time-trialling in a group is very dangerous. But aero helmets? Idiots.
  • Ignoring marshalls. That includes the cretin I saw who was told to slow down for an ambulance but who just ignored the calls and sped on regardless.
  • Undertaking. Seriously – except in extremis, don’t do it. There are two lanes of the road to use!
  • Strava – for going down just as I was trying to upload my ride! I ended up manually uploading it on Monday morning.
  • The top-tube sticker that Evans supplied with a time breakdown of where you should be for a set-time. The information was fine, but the sticker needed hot soapy water to remove it from my frame later! Choose a different sticker supplier next year! The RideLondon sticker came off the bike fine.

The Ugly

  • If you’re riding with deep-rim wheels, then I don’t expect to see you getting off and walking on Leith Hill.
  • Similarly, I don’t really expect to overtake anyone on a Pinarello Dogma with Di2 Dura Ace on the climb into Wimbledon Village.
  • If you’re cycling shorts are a bit weather-worn, you may want to consider getting new ones. Some were positively transparent…

Newlands Corner - RideLondon 10DSC_00970

Newlands Corner - RideLondon 100

RideLondon 100 Finish on The Mall

Problems with News Video

Recently the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published its annual Digital News Report, authored by Nic Newman.

If you’re interested in the media, and particularly journalism in the digital age, then it’s an essential read. The report, which is supported by groups such as Google and the BBC, surveys 50,000 people across 26 countries about their digital news habits.

The report is available to download, with lots of additional resources like data tables and chart packs for deep-diving into.

I’m going to concentrate on one area of the report: video.

If you’ve been paying attention to news sites, and indeed digital media in general, there has been a lot more video in recent years. Social media and news sites more often than not playing videos by default, and spending money to push the platform. Video, the belief is, will grab users’ attention and drive increased readership.

And for the most part, this seemed like a sensible move. More people were watching more video as both home broadband and mobile 4G coverage improved. But with regard to digital news, there’s been a bit of a speed-bump on the road.

“One surprise in this year’s data is that online news video appears to be growing more slowly than might be expected. Across all 26 countries only a quarter (24%) of respondents say they access online news video in a given week. This represents surprisingly weak growth given the explosive growth and prominence on the supply side.”
(Page 19)

The real reason for the growth in video, beyond the perceived demand from users, is the higher advertising yields that can be achieved from video. Those pre-roll adverts, whether skippable or not, are worth much more than other display inventory which has not been the saviour that news organisations or others had hoped it would be. Something to do with infinite inventory I suspect.

News providers were positively driven to increase their volumes of video to meet revenue targets.

“Across our entire sample, the vast majority (78%) say they only read news in text or occasionally watch news video that looks interesting. Just one in twenty (5%) say they mostly watch rather than read news online. “
(Page 20)

And the reasons for this relatively low growth are pretty obvious. This chart is from the report:


I think those reasons – the first four in particular – chime with me, with the fact that I can read text quicker than watch a video being the chief one.

Yet frustratingly, more news seems to be appearing in video-only form. I read much of my news via the feedreader Feedly, and most news site’s RSS feeds limit what Feedly can see. That’s fine – whether coming from a feedreader, or much more likely, social media, news providers want to ensure they have strong branding and potentially monetise me with advertising.

But when I click through to a site and see a story that is only, or mostly, video, then I simply close the tab and click away.

Video really needs to add something to what I can read for it to be of true value. I’m not saying I don’t like video news – I watch TV news bulletins on a daily basis – but in a digital world, video is much more an interruptor.

– If I’m on the train to work looking on my mobile, I may be listening to music. Video puts that on pause so I can hear the soundtrack. Newspapers never forced that on me. I can read text and listen to music simultaneously.

– If I’m at work, then I can quickly scan a story to see if it’s important. With video I have to fumble around for headphones, or risk interrupting colleagues.

And video takes time. From hitting the play button to getting to what I want to see is not usually the best experience. Frankly, there’s nothing worse than a news provider who has built their own video platform (or bought one), and you just know it’s not going to be as fast-starting as, say, YouTube. You’re going to see a swirly “loading” graphic before an advert loads painfully slowly. At the end of the advert, there’ll be another delay as the actual video loads. 30 seconds of that before a video that’s only 45 seconds long itself doesn’t seem like a fair transaction.

Fundamentally, humans can read in their heads faster than someone can read out loud. So all things being equal, I’ll choose the most the most efficient way to get to the story. For the most part, I want to read stories not watch videos. I can quickly gauge how interested I am in a story from the text. Video is a hit or miss affair.

It’s perfectly true that some may prefer video, so by all means offer both video and text. But consider even making the transcript of the video available. As a friend pointed out on a social media, that instantly makes the video more accessible, and increases the search engine optimisation of what you’re producing.

Video is actually much more expensive than text – or text illustrated by photos – yet everyone seems to want to do it.

My suggestion is that unless video is a primary output of your organisation, I would use it sparingly. Produce only videos that really add something to the story. There are various groups who are adding text to videos and making them viewable without sound. Fine as far as it goes, but they tend to be relatively simplistic. You can’t delve deeper into a story that way, yet if I’m spending 2-3 minutes with a story which is what a video is demanding of me, then I expect to come out with a much richer understanding of the issues than I went in with.

Video is not the be-all and end-all, and news providers would do well to remember that.

Bastille Day at the Tour Was Memorable This Year!

Today’s stage on Mont Ventoux was probably as insane a stage as we’ve ever seen. While the win was contested by a three man breakaway, the overall standings were being contested further down the mountain with the Yellow Jersey, Chris Froome with Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema. Suddenly there was a crash. The TV motorbike had slammed on the brakes and all three cyclists ploughed straight into it. The road was so full of people that, that seemingly another motorbike ahead of the TV motorbike was prevented from moving. This effectively caused a pile-up. With all three riders on the floor, a police motorbike behind ran over Chris Froome’s bike and broke the frame.

Mollema got away first, while Froome quickly realised his bike was broken and had nowhere to get another one. Porte was last to get away – he’d been at the bottom of the pile-up. But in the chaos, the riders behind had passed them, and now Mollema, and to a greater extent Porte and Froome had lost time, instead of gaining time.

The UCI jury eventually gave Porte and Froome the same time as Mollema – who himself had lost some time, but recovered fastest.


The crowds were clearly too deep, and too many idiots try to lean into the riders too much. There weren’t barriers at this point on the course – just 1.2km from the top – but the organisers had already had to cope with a weather problem. They’d shortened the stage since 100km/h winds were making it unsafe at the top of the mountain.

Much more including photos on Inrng, although frankly it’ll be on the national news tonight, so bizarre is the image of Chris Froome running up the mountain!

Quite why the crowd that had waited for Froome to maintain his Yellow Jersey were booing him, I really don’t understand.

In the meantime, why not listen to a little feature that I helped put together for The Cycling Podcast this week – my second.

The Political Cycle

It’s my favourite time of year – The Tour de France is well underway. Mark Cavendish is back on form, picking up wins 27, 28 and 29, leaving him second on the all-time wins list, and the fireworks are about to kick off as the race enters the Pyrenees.

Recently I raised my hand to say that I’d help out the chaps at The Cycling Podcast. They produce a gargantuan amount of audio during the Tour, with a post-race episode each evening after the stage, and a daily feature episode — KM0 — each morning, that’s on top of the Friends of the Podcast specials (Only £10!).

A couple of promos aside, this is the first real fruit of my labours, seeing me edit this episode of KM0. Tight turnarounds are the order of the day here, so it’s not perfect, but this was a fun one looking back at the Tour de Trump amongst other things.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased about the way this sounds:

Tate Modern – Switch House

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The new extension of the Tate Modern has recently opened and I popped along on what I hoped would be a quiet day. It wasn’t – as there were hundreds of school kids around and about. The new extension, Switch House, is adjacent to the Boiler House (as the older part of the museum is known). The new extension is ten stories tall, and there are two banks of elevators to get you up it – except one set only goes up four stories. This is a bit of a problem as most people are trying to get up to the top. As a result, the lifts are crowded.

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But you can’t complain about the views up there. This is probably the best free skyline view in London. You’re out in the open – so no grubby hand prints on glass to deal with if you want a photo. It’s not ridiculously high up, but it’s high enough and affords good views across St Paul’s Cathedral, the City of London and out towards Canary Wharf.

There’s not such a good view looking west towards Westminster, but it’s still a nice place to see the city from.

Most entertainingly you can see directly in to the two residential tower blocks that sit alongside the Tate Modern. And when I say you can look in, it’s more voyeuristic than James Stewart in Rear Window. I can only imagine that the property values will be falling because either you put up blinds (removing the reason for buying that property in the first place), or you have to put up with thousands of people staring right into your apartment. I couldn’t help noticing that all the sitting areas closest to Switch House, look like they’re straight out of a magazine cover shoot. They don’t look lived in.

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Inside the new extension, you have to go down quite a few floor before you reach any new space actually being used as an exhibition area. The halls are light and airy, although the staircase is narrow. The building opens up lower down, and you end up in the tanks at the bottom which are cavernous areas that amazing things can be done in.

Well worth visiting, although I fear the viewing gallery might need some kind of queuing system in the height of the summer or school holidays!

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