October, 2016

Dave Yates’ Framebuilding Course

Dave Yates Framebuilding Course-106

Earlier this summer, I spent a week in rural Lincolnshire building a bicycle frame, from scratch, starting with a box of steel tubes. The resulting frame was painted, and then I carefully assembled the bike from parts.

The bike you see above is the fruit of those labours, and I’ve written a much longer than usual piece, which is copiously illustrated.

Read lots more about this endeavour on this page, which will look much better on a large, high-resolution monitor.

There’s a full photoset on Flickr too, documenting the build.

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Six Day Cycling 2016

Six Days London 2016 Day 3-51

I went to the inaugural Six Day London event last year, and wrote up my experiences (in a blog I oddly didn’t publish for a couple of months). From that blog:

Essentially a two-man team competition, it’s racing in a velodrome over six nights, with an overall winner determined from the cumulative results. In between events for the six-day competitors, there are other races so that entrants to the main competition aren’t actually on-track non-stop all night.

I enjoyed the night, but wasn’t quite bowled over. One of the things I noted was:

The crowd could have been larger though. I suspect it’s quite an uphill struggle to fill a velodrome on six consecutive nights. And I’m not sure that starting on a Sunday and finishing on a Friday is the best way to do things. I notice that in Ghent they start on Tuesday and finish on Sunday. At least that way you get big Friday and Saturday nights. On the night I went, they reallocated tickets to lower area for anyone who’d bought an upper level seat.

Well guess what. This year they started on a Tuesday and will finish on Sunday. What’s more, they’ve timed it for half-term which meant lots of families out without as much worry of getting home from an event that finishes at 10:30pm (although the venue was thinning out later in the evening).

This year, the event was completely sold out for the last four days, and fairly well sold for the first two as well. But there was a real draw this time out. Sir Bradley Wiggins would be appearing in his final competitive race before retirement. And to make things even more exciting, he was paired with Mark Cavendish. Part of me did wonder what the reaction would be to Wiggins given the recent revealing of his therapeutic exemptions earlier in his career. (I’ve written some of my early thoughts on this here, but there are clearly more questions to be answered.)

But as it turned out, this was not going to put off fans at this event, and in truth such thoughts were largely put behind us during the thick and fast action. Indeed if anything, the crowd was a bit too partisan. The teams were largely organised by countries and Britain had three teams in contention. But the crowd wanted one team and one team alone to win everything. This event is going to need a string of British stars to keep fans happy.

There were other improvements this year – the public address system seemed to have been improved so that you could actually hear most of the interviews. The organisers, Madison Sports Group, have put a lot of effort into this. Indeed this is the first of a series of Six Day events around Europe. It’s all a bit arbitrary of course, because Ghent is the real home of the sport these days, and that’s not part of the series.

I still wish that the track centre was less of a VIP area – it’s not as though it’s a cheap evening with beer at festival prices and so-so food at top prices. Indeed this was the first time I’d had a bag search at the velodrome, and the large bin behind the bag searchers was full of bottles of water and kids drinks which seems a shame. I know that selling food, drink and merchandise is part of the equation for these events, but at a family event it felt quite harsh.

A group of guys the night I was there came dressed as beefeaters, and I can see that the event could have more of a darts style atmosphere if it really tried. Going to the World Darts finals isn’t a cheap night out either however.

I suppose the only disappointment the night I was there was that there were no women racing. It seems that their competition was beginning on Friday, so I just timed it wrong.

The organisers also seem to have improved their media coverage this year, and it seems that near enough every UK cycling commentator was somehow involved with the event. Track side we had OJ Borg and Rob Hayles keeping the crowd entertained between races (along with a DJ), while Rob Hatch was the velodrome’s in-house commentator. For Eurosport Carlton Kirby and Tony Gibb were broadcasting live nightly, while I noticed that Sky Sports was also carrying highlights with Ned Boulting and Rob Hayles (who seems to be pulling some kind of double duty) providing coverage.

Did I take photos? Of course I did. Quite a few below, and many more on Flickr.

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RAJAR Q3 2016

RAJAR

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!

Just when you weren’t expecting it, along comes another RAJAR.

Overall, among all radio listeners, the quarter that includes much of the summer has seen a slight decrease, which is a regular seasonal thing. Reach has fallen 1.1% from last quarter’s record level but is still up 0.7% on last year. Hours are fairly stable too, down 0.7% on the quarter but up 0.4% on the year. Some – but notably not all – of the Brexit highs from last quarter have righted themselves, and we’ve got a second set of numbers from a whole host of new services.

National and Digital Services

Last quarter we saw a swathe of new services arrive on RAJAR, and indeed this quarter sees a first result for Heart Extra – a creditable 664,000 with nearly 3m listening hours.

But let’s have a look at the other newbies and see how they’re settling in after the flurry of activity around launch. TalkRadio has probably done the best, seeing some very solid numbers with a 36% increase in reach to 304,000 and a 63% increase in hours to close to 1.4m hours. Notably, the average number of hours spent listening to TalkRadio is up to 4.5 – not quite enough for it to be many people’s first choice station, but a solid secondary choice. I would expect this audience to continue to grow. I’m not sure to what extent News UK is promoting its services in its sister papers, but The Sun seems like a solid stablemate for the station.

TalkSport 2 hasn’t done so well, and is down 12.3% in reach (-3.0% in hours). While the football season began during this RAJAR period, it takes a little time to get up and running. So another quarter is needed to get a sense of where the station is at. Notably its older sibling had a poor performance this quarter, which only partly reflects that this period was post Euros. The station was down 13% in reach on the quarter, but 9% on the year. Hours were much more solid, down 1.3% on the quarter but up 2.7% on the year. The station has seen a couple of schedule changes recently with Colin Murray replaced by Jim White – although the latter hasn’t yet really been reflected in these figures. Virgin Radio is also probably a little disappointing, down 15.6% on the quarter in reach and 13.8% in hours.

Finally, Radio X saw a 6.4% increase in reach and a 14.4% increase in hours. I think the best you could probably say about that is solid, but the marketing and talent costs for the station surely need to warrant a larger audience than the current 1.265m reach that the station has.

Elsewhere, there will be some slightly tempered relief at Radio 1 where reach has increased 4.4% on the quarter (down 6.5% on the year), and up 5.0% in hours (down 7.4% on the year). It’s still just shy of the 10m mark though, which the station will be looking to return to.

Few will be too tearful that Radio 2 has lost a few more listeners down 1.0% in reach on the quarter and 3.5% down in hours. It’s still by far the biggest station in the UK, some 4m clear of the next biggest station Radio 4.

Radio 4 itself is down a little this quarter to 11.2m, but is up on last year at the same time. Coming in a period after the Brexit vote, that’s perhaps not surprising. Although it remains a busy time for politics, the same pattern seems to have been reflected in post Brexit newspaper ABC figures.

Radio 3 has had a bit of a fall this quarter, surprising in a Proms quarter. You may recall that they achieved some recent record figures in the last quarter, but now it’s below 2m again in reach.

Over at Five Live, they will probably be disappointed with a 6% decline in reach and 12% fall in hours during a quarter that included the Olympics. It should however be noted that year on year performance is relatively flat.

Classic FM has had a poor quarter too in reach terms, down 4.2% on the previous quarter and down 3.8% on the year. Hours are much more stable however.

Absolute Radio has had a strong quarter, up 21% in reach on the quarter and 24% on the year. In hours terms, it’s also a positive story with hours up 22% on the quarter and 17% on the year. Similarly, the Absolute Radio Network is net positive, with up in reach and hours on the quarter. But that slightly disguises the fact that Absolute 80s has fallen again. It’s reach is down to 1.458m (down 7.8% on the quarter and down 7.2% on the year), with hours down 1.4% on the quarter and 7.6% on the year. There has been a clear decline since the station moved from the Digital One to Sound Digital multiplex earlier this year. As a result, Kisstory (which is also carried on a range of local DAB multiplexes as well as Sound Digital) is now the largest commercial digital only service.

Kisstory has had some great results this quarter, up 4.6% in reach (23.3% on the year), and an essentially unbelievable 58.7% in hours (76% on the year). I’ve no idea quite what’s happened here, but I’d probably wait until next quarter before making too many pronouncements. Either way, these are both record results for the station. Kiss, on the other hand, has had a poor national result, down 10% in reach on the quarter (down 7.1% on the year), and down 6.7% in hours (down 8.4%) on the year.

[Updated] And 6 Music had yet another record quarter, up 3.4% to 2.342m. Hours were broadly flat, but well up on the year.

Magic has a mixed result with a slight increase in reach on the quarter (up 2.7%), but a fairly dramatic fall in listening hours (down 15%).

The Capital Network did well this quarter, growing its audience by 2.6% on the quarter and 8.1% on the year. It also saw growth in listening hours.

The Heart Network did OK too, up 1.6% in reach and 3.6% in hours. It was down on the year however.

Finally, LBC actually bucked the post-Brexit trend nationally, seeing its reach increase 4.2% and hours up 4.6%. Year on year these figures are remarkable – up 21.6% in reach and 32.7% in hours.

Along with Absolute Radio, I’d say that LBC had the standout set of results this quarter.

Breakfast

I won’t dwell on breakfast too much this time around except to note that Chris Evans saw his reach fall 4.4% this quarter (down 3.9% on the year) to 9.058m.

Over on Radio 1, it’s another disappointing set of results for Nick Grimshaw – his worst to date. He now has 5.249m listeners, down 3.4% on the quarter and down 9.1% on the year.

Meanwhile across the Absolute Radio Network, Christian O’Connell has just superseded his previous best ever results with a new record set of listeners – 1,949,000. That’s up 1.4% on the quarter and a massive 14.6% on the year. His is the largest commercial breakfast show in the country.

London

Last quarter there was something of a surge in London with a massive growth in listening. This quarter, that seems to have righted itself to a degree. All Radio listening was down 2.8% in reach but down 6.1% in hours in the capital. However, year on year, the reach is up 3.1% and down just 1.6%. So I would think of this as a correction.

The figures are similar for both BBC Radio and Commercial Radio, with the latter losing a little more reach. But in London, Commercial Radio continues to lead the BBC with 51.2% of listening compared with the BBC’s 42.5%.

One consequence of all of this is that Capital becomes the biggest commercial station in London in both reach, despite seeing an 11.2% fall in reach and a 12.2% fall in hours.

Kiss has had a poor result all around and that means that they lose they’re just pipped by Heart (9,179,000 v 9,177,000 hours!) who lost a relatively modest 2.4% in reach.

The biggest commercial station for hours is LBC, despite actually seeing a massive dip in both reach and hours on last quarter – down 23.3% in reach and down 27.6% in hours. I’d firmly put that as a consequence of Brexit however since year on year, they’re up on both measures.

Magic is also notable since it has bucked the London trend and grown 10.5% in reach (5.4% in hours). Hours are down on the quarter, but up on the year.

Radio X really is suffering in London. It’s at just 378,000 in reach, down 14.5% in reach (and 25.4% down year on year). Hours are steady.

Finally BBC London has had a poor result on the back of last quarter’s decent one, back down 17% in reach and 40% in hours.

Digital Listening

Digital listening has grown again, from 45.3% of all listening, to 45.5%. The chart below shows the extent to which this is driven by different platforms, with notably DAB accounting for nearly one in three hours of radio listened to.

More interesting perhaps is that among 15-24s, digital listening has now reached 50%! (It’s also reached 50.1% among 35-44s for the record).

While overall radio listening continues to fall among this age group, that listening that they’re now doing is much more likely to be digital, with internet streaming quickly approaching DAB as the preferred digital platform.

The following series of charts is perhaps useful.

While the digital/analogue chart above got close in 2013, this is a clear trend.

15-24s

It’s easy to become obsessed by youth listening, but as well as the behaviourals of how younger people listen (I hesitate to say “millennials” since that’s ill-defined, and a constantly moving goal), the volume of listening is important to consider.

This chart shows that while the overall proportion of radio listeners who are 15-24s has declined over time, the proportion of hours they account for has fallen even faster. So in Q2 2007, 15-24s accounted for 15.9% of all radio listeners and 13.3% of the time spent listening, in the most recent quarter this has fallen to 13.7% of all radio listeners and just 9.4% of listening hours. This is an increasingly hard audience to reach.

Here’s another worrying chart. It shows the proportion of 15-24s with no radios at all. Sure, they can stream or listen via digital television, but streaming sessions still seem to be much shorter – your phone or laptop can do so much more to entertain you after all.

While these aren’t stratospheric numbers, the rate of “no radio” ownership growth is large, and considering how trivial it is to own a single radio (e.g. your alarm clock), this is still a concerning trend. Even the much vaunted LG phone with DAB has done little to change things, and pretty much none of the flagship phones of 2016 have included any kind of working broadcast radio chip.

Station Repertoire

Radio listeners are remarkably loyal. In a world of an ever growing multiplicity of radio stations, the average radio listener listens to just 3.0 services. But this number varies by station, so the chart below has a select list of services and the number of stations listeners to each of those services listens to.

In other words, Radio 2 listeners are basically average, listening to on average 3.2 services (including Radio 2). At the other extreme, Virgin Radio listeners have a repertoire of 6.2 services.

As is perhaps understandable, it’s digital stations, who often act as “secondary” services who have the largest repertoires. In the industry vernacular, the station you listen most to is your first preference or “P1”, followed by your P2 and then P3 choices. Radio directors always want their listeners to be P1s.

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 18 September 2016, Adults 15+.

[Updated to include 6 Music which I somehow overlooked!]

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.

Devil’s Dyke

Devil's Dyke Walk-16

There are at least two Devil’s Dykes in the south of England. I decided that I’d be walking the one in Cambridgeshire, following a mention both in an autumn walks supplement in The Guardian, and an appearance in Tony Robinson’s Britain’s Ancient Trackways part of the Icknield Way. Naturally, I took my drone with me.

Devil's Dyke from Adam Bowie on Vimeo.

I was going to start in Newmarket, but instead alighted the Cambridge to Ipswich train a stop earlier at Dullingham. The station is a short walk from the village, and my reason for getting off earlier was that I should be able to do more of the Dyke. However, the onlhy real option for the route was a walk along the quite busy B1061 – a road that doesn’t have a suitable grass verge to walk along. Going slightly further out of my way, and joining the path at Stetchwork Park might have been more sensible.

Almost instantly I was on the Dyke, an ancient earthwork built sometime in the 6th or 7th centuries. It actually runs over 7 miles in length stretching between the villages of Woodditton and Reach. I was walking the northern end – a stretch of about 4.5 miles, and skipping a woody section.

Devil's Dyke Walk-1

Devil's Dyke Walk-3

The Dyke comprises of both a bank and a ditch. It must have taken years to complete and involved significant labour to get it done. Even today, with heavy lifting equipment it would take a long time to build.

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Crossing the A1304, you reach Newmarket Racecourse sat on top of the expanse of Newmarket Heath. There are stables all around these parts of the country. The Dyke itself (marked as Devil’s Ditch on Ordnance Survey maps), bisects the course, with the July course being on one side of the Dyke while the main stand is the other. Eventually the Dyke falls away as the Cesarewatch Course runs across your path and circles around to the main grandstand.

The A14 is as busy as a motorway, and a footbridge lets you cross it, before the Dyke continues.

Devil's Dyke Walk-11

Devil's Dyke Walk-13

The Dyke runs between the villages of Swaffham Prior and Burwell, and the path crosses the road that connects them, as well as a dismantled railway before finally ending at the pretty village of Reach.

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Devil's Dyke Walk-22

I stopped at the very nice Dyke’s End pub where I just about managed to squeeze in for lunch. Reach is where many people start and end their walk along the Dyke. However I was heading onwards, to get to Waterbeach where I could catch another train.

Devil's Dyke Walk-23

My initial plan had been to follow Reach Lode as far as the village of Upware and the enticingly named Five Miles From Anywhere pub. But I decided to shorten the route a little (it was long enough as it was), and instead headed west along the Black Droveway past some caravans, and then on towards Slades Farm which sits close to the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. There’s a nice cycleway in this area, and I saw a couple of families making use of the autumn weather to follow it.

Devil's Dyke Walk-24

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The banks of the Lode got me as far the pumping station at Swaffham Lock. Here the channel met the River Cam which flows on to Cambridge. I turned southwest and followed the south bank of the Fen Rivers Way, passing a small marina and a number of anglers.

Devil's Dyke Walk-32

The last strech was a bit of a march as I realised I could just about make the hourly train at Waterbeach station. I arrived with about five minutes to spare, thus avoiding an hour’s wait.

All told, a really nice, if quite long walk – just short of 15 miles. But aside from climbing up and down the Dyke at intervals, it’s entirely flat, and is very reachable from London.

route

An Egregiously Bad Chart

chartitv

The chart above is screen-grabbed from an otherwise excellent ITV4 documentary called When Football Changed the World. It looked at the state of the game as the old First Division broke away to form the Premier League at the end of the 80s and start of the 90s. It interviewed plenty of key figures from the period both on and off the pitch.

At time of writing, it’s on the ITV Hub and is well worth watching. I’ve no doubt it’ll get a few more outings on ITV4 over the coming weeks and months.

But that chart is just dreadful for a couple of reasons.

The documentary was trying to illustrate the spiralling increase in UK Premier League costs over time. The first deal starting with the 1992/93 season was indeed worth £191m, and the latest beginning this season is worth a cumulative £5.1bn.

To put that in context, the latest deal is nearly 27 times the original deal!

Whereas, looking at the graphpaper-styled background this graphic is using, it looks like 5.1bn is about 1.5 times as big as 191m.

They’ve just not used a proper vertical scale on the chart. Revenues have risen extraordinarily, and this chart just doesn’t show it.

In fact, the chart should look something like this:

Just using proper scaling shows the quite stratospheric rise in rights.

But in fact, the value of the overall deal each time doesn’t really show the whole story. The first deal that started in the 1992/93 season was for 5 years, whereas since 2001/02, they’ve been for three years. So if we look at the rise in terms of cost per season rather than per deal, we get this.

Note that since the changes only really effect the first couple of deals, the charts look pretty similar. But the growth per season is actually 44x the price of the first Premier League deal rather than 27x if you consider each deal in isolation.

The other thing that has changed is the number of matches covered by each deal. Basically the number of matches under each deal tends to increase over time. And that does mitigate some of that inflation. The first deal saw each Premier League fixture costing Sky about £600,000 each. This season, on average games cost £10.2m each. Again, it’s a massive jump, but it’s 16x the first deal’s cost, which goes some way to mitigate the 44x increase in rights costs per season.

I think the per season chart is the fairest though. This represents the real amount going into the game from TV companies. And to the clubs, looking at their much healthier bottom lines, that’s what matters.

Note: I’ve tried to use the widely reported values of each Premier League TV deal, but the 2001/02-2003/04 deal in particular seems a little opaque with some conflicting numbers. More recent deals are widely reported because they have a material effect on PLC’s bottom lines.