bbc

In Advance of The Nightly Show

This evening, ITV launches its big new entertainment gamble – The Nightly Show. They’ve taken over The Cochrane Theatre near Holborn, and for the next eight weeks they’ve also taken over The News At Ten’s slot. (Recall, this is the slot that only a year ago, the then Media, Culture and Sport Minister was wondering if the BBC should vacate to let ITV have an unimpeded run. Hmmm.)

There have been four weeks’ worth of pilots, and the USP of the show is that it will have different guest host presenters each week, beginning with David Walliams tonight. John Bishop and Gordon Ramsey are also lined up.

I confess that I’ve heard a couple of slightly off-putting things in advance of the show. There’s the suggestion that it won’t be especially political, which is odd in these political times. In an interview in The Guardian today, Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television is reported as saying:

‘”It’s not satire with a capital S,” he says. “They’ll poke fun at the news in a broad way, just as most chatshow hosts do.”‘

With a hope that they create lots of viral videos, it feels like it wants to be more James Corden than Samantha Bee or John Oliver.

But you have to set that against a time when we’ve got Brexit, May, Corbyn, Farage, Trump, and right-wing nationalism across Europe. While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest bringing it back (they already tried to an extent with Newzoids), Spitting Image was nothing if not political.

So I wonder if hidden camera japes and audience surprises are quite right? In any case, don’t Ant & Dec already do that with aplomb on Saturday nights?

Interestingly, in the US, Stephen Colbert has recently been overtaking Jimmy Fallon for the first time, with the suggestion that it’s because he’s taken a more political line following the election of Trump. Colbert comes from a background of devastating political satire on Comedy Central; Fallon ruffled Trump’s hair.

I also think we need to be bit careful making comparisons with some of these US shows.

Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel all air at 11.35pm on the coasts, not 10.00pm as The Nightly Show will. James Corden and Seth Myers air at 12.35am; long after any sensible person with a job has gone to bed.* This is also why producing viral videos like Carpool Karaoke segments is so important for Corden and his peers.

Calling a show that airs at 10pm a late-night show, is not just misleading, it’s wrong. Upwards of 10 million people are still watching UK TV at that time.

It’s also worth noting that the biggest chat show failure of recent times in the US, was when NBC gave Jay Leno a nightly 10pm slot for a while when he stepped down from The Tonight Show (before booting out Conan O’Brien and dropping Leno back in at 11.35pm, in a particularly unedifying moment in US late night TV show history). Arguably that was a different type of show, and the TV landscape at 10pm in the US is very different to ours.

However, one thing is clear. This show will undoubtedly take a bit of time to find its legs. So tomorrow’s overnights, which will be eagerly pounced upon, along with those of its leadout show, series three of Broadchurch, should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

As for the pushing back of The News at Ten – which becomes simply The ITV News, no doubt without the bongs – I would suggest ITV simply settles in that slot on a long term basis. It then won’t compete directly with the BBC, and at 10.30pm there’s no reason why both a more analytical Newsnight on BBC2, and a more mainstream ITV News can’t exist simultaneously. The downside for ITV is that on really big news days, the ratings for the BBC Ten O’Clock news will soar, while late local news bulletins and football highlights will take ratings hits.

* In the central timezone, these shows are on an hour earlier. But the over 60% of the US population gets these shows at the later time.

Hans Rosling – Forming His World View on Facts; Not Feelings

In my recent RAJAR piece, I made reference to the sad news that Professor Hans Rosling had died.

Rosling was a Swedish professor of global health, and had found fame in a series of videos and programmes – notably beginning with a widely shared TED talk – that elucidated stories behind data in a way that made that data understandable. And he did this remarkably well.

Over the weekend BBC Two repeated Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population, which if you haven’t seen it, is well worth spending some time with. Some of your preconceived notions and worldviews will be shattered.

Then at the start of this week Tim Harford presented a really superb special edition of More or Less on the BBC World Service to remember Hans. It included memories of the man from people who knew him and worked with him, as well as excerpts from some of the programmes he’s made over the years.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

In particular, I went to watch the live broadcast of a programme Rosling contributed to on the spread of Ebola in west Africa, and the ways in which it was combatted. Extracts appear in the special edition of More or Less.

Towards the end of the episode, there was a very powerful moment when producer Ruth Alexander, recalled visiting him at home at the end of last year. Rosling had appeared a number of times on More or Less, and made other programmes for the BBC. He’d still been keen to do another interview, even though he was very ill at the time with pancreatic cancer.

Alexander: “He said to me, ‘Please will you carry on this in your future work?’ And I think what he meant was, will you carry on looking at the facts, forming your world view and reporting on the state of the world based on facts. Not feelings; not what you think is probably true. But what is demonstrated by the facts and the statistics before you.”

Presenter Tim Harford agreed that this was a challenge to all of us.

RAJAR Q4 2016

RAJAR

Once more, 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 am delighted that I continue to be able to bring you this RAJAR analysis in association with RALF. For more details on the product, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

All views here are my own!

The first RAJAR release of 2017 represents the results of radio listening at the end of 2016, measuring up to and including the week before Christmas.

In overall terms, radio remains strong. 90% of the population listen to the radio at least once a week, listening for an average of 21.5 hours a week – just over three hours a day. The average age of a radio listener is 47 (excluding under 15s as RAJAR does), and all these have been pretty constant over time. But who “won” RAJAR, as I was asked in the office today?

National and Digital Services

Well it’s not Radio 1. The station is down in reach and hours, down 3.2% in reach on the quarter and down 7.4% in reach on the year. Hours figures are slightly better. Radio 1 will of course point you towards their online successes including their YouTube channel. But they’re in tough position, as are many stations aimed at a younger audience. As I mentioned in a piece on some separate RAJAR Midas research last week, 15-24s are far likelier to be using streaming services. That also means, incidentally, that Radio 1 will continue to struggle to try to drag its average age down from 35 (Again remembering the under 15s aren’t really counted).

Radio 2 probably isn’t the “winner” either. I mean, it is in the sense that it’s by far the biggest station in the country, but reach was a fraction off this quarter, down 0.6% on the quarter and down 2.7% on the year. Hours were up though, to back over 180m a week.

Radio 3 did well this quarter, up on all measures – notably up 7.2% in reach and 17.0% in hours on last quarter, the best the station has had in 14 years. But the overall winner?

Radio 4 did very too. It’s reach was fractionally up on last quarter and 3.7% up on last year. And it has recorded its best ever listening hours under the current methodology (which goes back as far as 1999), up 8.4% on last quarter to 133m.

I would think that you would squarely put that down to a tumultuous political period both at home and abroad.

I think Radio 4 may have a strong shout.

Five Live did very well too, perhaps for very similar reasons. While it’s audience wasn’t record breaking like Radio 4’s, reach was up 3.8% on the quarter while hours were up 4.6%. A new football season won’t have harmed things, but either way, this was a very solid result for the station.

At some point 6 Music is probably going to have to stop breaking records, but it hasn’t reached that point yet. While its reach was fractionally down on last quarter’s record size, it is still 5.8% up in reach terms on the year. More to the point it now has record hours, with more than 23m, up 6.5% on the quarter and a massive 15.1% on the year. The average 6 Music listener is 43 and listens for a record 10 hours a week.

Radio 4 Extra had a good quarter, up 6.9% in reach and 10.7% in hours on the last quarter. On the other hand, without nearly as much cricket, Five Live Sports Extra’s performance plummeted downwards.

Absolute Radio had a pretty awful quarter, down 19.0% in reach and down 13.8% in hours. But this came after a record breaking quarter last time, and their current figures are still both up on the year – suggesting that last quarter’s results were, how shall we put this politely, “freak.” The station still performs well.

Absolute 80s, its biggest digital brand climbed after last quarter’s slight dips. The station was up 4.9% in reach and 10.8% in hours on last quarter. But it’s still down from where it was a year ago, down 3.5% in reach and 4.5% in hours. Undoubtedly a consequence of switching from D1 to D2 as I’ve mentioned in the past.

Classic FM had a fairly uneventful set of results down in a few measures but up in reach on the quarter. The station performs consistently well with just over 5m listeners and around 35m listening hours. With an average of 6.6 hours per listener, this is in line with recent RAJAR results. Go back a few years and it was over 7 hours, and the station might like to get people listening a bit longer.

LBC reports itself nationally on a six month basis, and its latest signing, I think you know who, only started presenting this quarter. I’m slightly surprised to see its reach and hours were down quarter on quarter, reach down 6.4% and hours down 3.6%. This obviously came after the Brexit vote. However, post the referendum, it’s clear that Radio 4 has done very well as people try to understand what it actually means. So I’m surprised the station has fallen back a little. Perhaps LBC’s audience preferred the run-up to the referendum, while the Radio 4 audience needed to then make sense of it. I’m probably being too simplistic. However LBC is still well up on the year, 17.2% in reach and 25.4% in hours.

TalkSport’s results are a little mixed with reach up to over 3m again (up 5.3% on the quarter), after dipping just below that last time. But hours are back down to 18.3m after a couple of quarter at over 21m hours. Colin Murray left the station in this period, and that had a knock-on shake-up among talent. Average hours are still above six.

TalkSport 2 is continuing to improve however. In its third set of results it has its best reach to date at 294,000, although hours slipped a little. The station is performing consistently, and will take time to grow.

The other new stations that Wireless Group launched on D2 last year are suffering a little however. TalkRadio was well down on both reach and hours from last quarter, with a reach of 252,000 and 615,000 hours. Average listening of only 2.4 hours per listener is very low for a speech station. Virgin Radio is also down with 324,000 reach and 758,000 hours. I suspect that what both of these are going to need is some serious investment in marketing. Picking up a recent copy of Saturday’s Times, I did notice a Virgin Radio ad in the Saturday Review section. I’m not sure the extent to which News UK’s newspapers are providing advertising space for these radio services, but I suspect that continued marketing investment is going to be needed.

Kiss saw some decent results with an increase in reach by 1.1% and hours up 7.4% to 22.7m, while Magic saw dips in reach on both the quarter and the year nationally, while hours were up on the quarter and down on the year.

Radio X nationally saw it’s reach fall back a modest amount on the quarter, but still be up 2.4% on the year. In terms of hours it’s up 2.2% on the quarter and a mighty 34.4% on the year.

In terms of the big networks, the Capital Network was down slightly this quarter (-3.3% in reach and -2.6% in hours), but up on the year (+3.9% in reach and +4.3% in hours). The Heart Brand was basically flat from last quarter which is when it was introduced as a measurement with the addition of the new Heart Extra (which itself did not have a happy second result).

The Big City Network has been in the news over the last couple of days, following the publication of some very restrictive sounding style guidelines that were published on social media. In RAJAR terms, the stations’ performance this quarter was pretty flat.

The Absolute Radio Network reported its largest ever reach with over 4.5m (up 1.3% on the quarter and up 3.3% on the year). Notably Absolute Radio 90s and Absolute Radio Classic Rock both had record reach figures this quarter too. Could 90s be the new 80s?

Breakfast

I won’t say too much about breakfast except to report some of the bigger changes. Nick Grimshaw had some good results for this quarter, being up 2.2% despite Radio 1’s overall fall in reach. Chris Evans also increased his reach slightly on the quarter, although like Grimshaw, he was down on the year.

The Today Programme on Radio 4 was up 11.7% on the quarter and 20.3% on the year, to nearly 7.5m listeners a day. This undoubtedly reflects Radio 4’s overall audience increase as mentioned above.

Christian O’Connell had another set of record reach figures in spite of falls on the main station. He’s tantalisingly close to 2m daily. But Rickie, Melvin and Charlie have the biggest national commercial breakfast show with over 2.2m, up 20% on the previous quarter. Melvin Odoom, of course, had mixed luck in this period being kicked off Strictly in the first week of the 2016 season, but returning to win the Christmas special. So it’s hard to say what impact that may or may not have had on the show.

Chris Moyles on Radio X continues to pick up listeners slowly but surely with 717,000 this quarter, up 2.0% on last quarter and up 7.2% on last year.

London

The biggest commercial station in London is Kiss, with 1.86m listeners – up on last quarter but down on the year. Capital just pips Magic for second place, although it has fallen below 2m again with its lowest reach since 2007. Magic has also seen its reach fall this quarter.

Next largest is Heart, although it’s figures are in freefall right now – down 19.1% on the quarter and 24.3% on the year. I’d wait another quarter to thoroughly check there’s a trend, but it really does seem there is.

Of note is the fact that Radio X has increased its reach this period to 430,000 – up 13.8% on the quarter. It’s still down on the year, and it feels that there’s work to be done there.

Commercially, breakfast in London is all over the place, with nearly every breakfast show changing a double-digit percentage from last quarter. And none of them have over a million listeners. That’s not a healthy state of affairs.

The best placed is the Kiss breakfast show with 983,000, up 15.2% on the quarter (although down on the year). It leads the Capital breakfast show by just over a million. Dave Berry is down 15.4% on the quarter and 18.4% on the year. Of course, he is shortly off from Capital to Absolute Radio, so it’ll be really interesting to see who Capital gets. Will it be a reshuffle of the current deck, or will they look for a personality not necessarily known for radio?

Magic is third biggest, and shows the smallest change in the market, being up just 5%. LBC is fourth, and shows good growth being up 16.2% on the quarter and 4.3% on the year.

Heart’s breakfast show really isn’t performing too well right now. Jamie and Emma are down 18.6% on the quarter and 29.3% on the year. And while Christian O’Connell had an excellent result nationally, his London figures are poor, down 16.2% on the quarter and 10.4% down on the year.

I confess that I’m slightly concerned about a small trend in under 35s not listening to the radio at breakfast at all.

I’ve kept the chart’s base at 0 to be fair, but note a very gentle downward’s slope, and a sudden extremeness in variability towards the latter period of the chart. Something to watch.

Digital Listening

Digital listening is down very fractionally to 45.2%, and reach is at 57.9%, but neither is especially concerning. Next quarter will add some new Christmas devices into the mix, and will probably bring some continued growth.

Others

There are always a couple of new stations in RAJAR, and this quarter is no exception. Perhaps most notably, Thames Radio is being measured for the first time. The service is available on DAB in London and online, featuring some very famous radio names from yesteryear including Neil Fox, Pat Sharp and Tony Blackburn amongst others. Their first RAJAR sees a reach of 15,000 and hours of 13,000, which must be said, is a disappointing set of results.

Bubbles

On Tuesday this week came the news that Hans Rosling, statistician and professor of global health, had died aged 68. He had a way of making dry sound statistical stories vibrant with his presentation technique and imaginative charting won him world fame. He presented TED Talk videos and a couple of BBC documentaries. All are worth checking out.

There was a nice piece on The Today Programme on Radio 4 yesterday with Evan Davis and Professor David Spiegelhalter of the Royal Statistical Society, talking about the impact he had as a statistical storyteller.

Specifically, working with Gapminder, he developed a way to animate data using bubble charts to help tell some of those statistical stories. Those who have been reading my RAJAR blogs over time, may recall I used to publish RAJAR charts using those animation techniques on this page – bubble charts. I only really stopped because they were becoming a little too unwieldy, and Google Charts weren’t properly able to cope with the underlying volume of data.

However, I thought that it was worth bringing back at least a cut down version of one of these charts following Rosling’s death. So the bubbles are sort of back.

The below chart tracks a selection of national radio stations and brands over time. I’ve limited the list to those who report quarterly data.

(If you’re attempting to see this on a mobile… well good luck! Try a laptop later on.)

So you know what you’re looking at, in the default settings as I’ve published it, the x-axis is the average age, while the y-axis displays % male. So a station in the top right-hand corner would be an elderly male station, while a station in the bottom left would be a young female station.

The size of the circle is related to that service’s total hours.

If you hit the big “play” button, you can watch the stations shift and change slightly over time.

Probably the most interesting station to watch is 6 Music as it gets larger and very slightly older over time.

As I say, I’ve by no means included every station, and in particular those that I’ve chosen are national three-month services. Perhaps I’ll return to a bigger version of this another time.

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 December 2016, Adults 15+.

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.

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.

Who’s Missing from the ARIAS?

Virgin Radio's First Sony Award

Earlier this week, the nominations for the inaugural ARIAS were announced. These are effectively the replacement of the former Sony Radio Awards, following Sony departing as a sponsor, and the Radio Academy reorganising itself and slimming down.

Over the 16 award categories, the BBC has 54 nominations, including several catetgories that only feature BBC nominees, while Bauer has 8 nomations, the Wireless Group 3, and several other groups one each.

Notably absent are any Global Radio nominees.

It was hard to see past the thought that Global had simply not entered the awards. For example, you would quite comfortably expect LBC to be up for some of its news and current affairs coverage, while Classic FM has previously always done well.

This morning Radio Today has confirmed that Global simply didn’t enter:

“We aren’t members of the Radio Academy so we haven’t entered their awards. We wish everyone who’s been nominated loads of luck.”

It’s true. The slimmed down Radio Academy is no longer supported by Global. But that doesn’t actually mean that they’re not allowed to enter the ARIAS.

It seems as though Global has taken a “We’re not going to play” attitude to the awards, depsite being the biggest commercial radio group in the country. It would be analagous to ITV not entering the BAFTAs.

Look – I understand that for whatever reason, Global doesn’t want to support a cross-industry body that promotes radio such as the Radio Academy. Getting a group of people in a room to all agree on something is hard, and during the reformation of the Radio Academy, a consensus seemingly couldn’t be achieved.

It’s a real shame, but it’s just about understandable. Global’s attention is probably currently concentrated on their recently opened Global Academy in Hayes.

But not participating in the ARIAS is surely akin to a sulking child picking up his ball and saying he won’t play the game any more because the others have scored too many goals.

“Their awards”?

Was it the entry fees? Awards are expensive and entry fees and selling tickets go towards funding a glizty evening. Traditionally this has been somewhere fancy in London, but the ARIAS are moving away from the capital and will take place at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

Is it the awards categories? Does Global not think they match the kind of output its stations produce. Actually, I think Global could probably enter in the majority of categories.

By not entering the ARIAS, Global is really denying its staff the chance to compete against the rest of the UK radio industry. Certainly there are the Arqiva Awards, but they’re only for commercial radio (and unfortunately, they suffer their own boycotts).

Whereas if you win one of the ARIAS, you can triumphantly proclaim that you are the best in the country regardless. It’s something you’ll put on your CV and will be with you for the rest of your career in the industry and beyond.

Winning an award engenders an enormous amount of pride in your staff. Winning something like Station of the Year can mean an awful lot, and filters through to everyone including those who don’t directly work on-air. And if you work on an award-winning show, you might find a better job, or get a promotion in your current place of work off the back of it. For commercial groups, advertisers love awards ceremonies. If something they had a part in wins an award, it’s reflective of them too. Agencies and clients love the glitz and glamour of the evening too.

This is the first year of the ARIAS, and undoubtedly there’ll be some teething problems. The entry period was a bit short. Making your entry sound great is key to winning an award, and this takes time. Some of the categories will no doubt need tweaking too. For example, I think that a category that can encompass radio promotions or competitions is important. Yes, that tends to be a commercial category, but perhaps the best and most creative pieces of radio that some stations produce actually come when they run on-air competitions. I’d also like to see a factual award that allows popular documentaries to compete.

And if you don’t think your station makes radio that can win awards in a fair fight against the rest of the commercial sector and a licence-fee funded BBC, I have news for you.

You can.

Be a bit more ambitious, and go out and make something!

Certainly, your schedule might mostly be music, but that doesn’t stop you producing, say, a one-off programme or documentary on something relevant or important to your listeners. And if you haven’t got the skills internally, then bring in an indie to help. It needn’t be expensive, and once broadcast, you’ve got something awards-friendly right there and ready to go! Obviously it’ll need to be good, but your station is probably brimming with creativity just waiting to be let off the leash and do something extraordinary. If you’re really smart, you can get it sponsored and it might actually make you some money too!

So I really hope Global has a change of heart and next year lets its employees, including some of the most incredibly talented folk in the industry, enter what are undoubtedly the UK’s premier radio awards.

Getting Burnt

The whole fallout over the failure of the BBC and Love Productions to agree a deal over future series of The Great British Bake-Off is fascinating.

The series started as a run-of-the-mill weekday evening BBC2 cooking competition show, where it was essentially one of many. Yet it morphed into a beast that became the biggest show on British television in fairly short order, transitioning across to BBC1 and making stars of its presenters and competition winners alike. Along the way it gained a number of spin-off shows.

Love Productions owns and makes the show for the BBC. Since 2014 it has been 70% owned by Sky, and perhaps its other best known show has been Benefits Street on Channel 4. But a quick look at their website shows how important the “Great British” brand is. As well as the flagship, there have been a Sport Relief and “Creme de la Creme” versions this year. We’ve also had Junior Bake Off, and Bake Off Masterclasses, and there have been two Mary Berry series as well as a Paul Hollywood series. There was also a two part documentary for primetime BBC1 featuring Nadiya, the winner of last year’s show. Then there are the sewing and pottery sister shows as well.

Bake Off is clearly Love’s core brand, since it would seem that Benefits Street seems to have had its day. Of the 2016 series on their website at time of writing, 32 hours are “Great British…” related, and 8 hours are all its other programmes.

So this contract extension/negotiation was clearly going to be a big deal for Love, and from media reports, negotiations have been long with rumours first surfacing back in April that all was not right and the two parties weren’t seeing eye to eye.

On Monday, as news broke, The Guardian reported an internal Love Productions email that said “this has never been about who might write the biggest cheque but about where we can find the best home for Bake Off,” which is clearly a load of nonsense. It was always about the size of the cheque. Maybe they did turn down an ITV offer in favour of Channel 4, as is the rumour. And perhaps that was a good call, with Channel 4 perhaps better suited of the two commercial services that could seriously bid for it. (NB. This really wouldn’t have made sense for Sky to bid on. The audiences would be tiny, and it just doesn’t seem to fit in with any of their core channels.)

Then came the bombshell that the talent hadn’t been tied up – or even consulted – before the show was sold to C4! Mel and Sue promptly decided that they would be bowing out (neither is short of other work, and they’ve done seven series at this point). Has C4 essentially paid £25m a year for a large marquee in a field?

I think what’s clear is that C4 won’t get anything like the ratings that the BBC got. But there’s probably a commercial equation that means, subject to relatively good ratings, and perhaps becoming C4’s biggest show, there’s a net commercial win for the channel. But at what cost?

A few questions come to mind beyond the emotional ones of whether the show is just quintessentially “a BBC show.”

  • How was a deal done without the talent already signed up? Now that Mel and Sue have dropped out, this really gives the whip hand in negotiations to agents of Mary and Paul. C4 will now be desperate to secure them, but if the production fee has gone up several-fold as rumoured, then the talent will be looking for something similar. It’s also probably slightly awkward that they’ve publicly said they want to stay with the BBC.

    I would imagine that what really comes into play here is what else they get as part of the deal. That probably means both Paul and Mary getting their own cookery shows, and the opportunity to really cash in on associated book sales. Channel 4 probably also lets them do more overtly commercial deals with their own ranges of baking or cookware, as well as other endorsements. But this will almost certainly come at the cost of audience, and that also impacts on what they can achieve in the wider marketplace. It’s not as though neither of them has had cookery shows on the BBC after all – with bestselling spin-off books. I’m sure the BBC would be very happy to keep offering them cookery slots as well.

  • What does this mean for future indies working in formats with the BBC? It’s an interesting time at the moment with indies and the BBC. The new Charter agreement allows for the opening up of more shows to be made by independents. And the creation of BBC Studios allows BBC producers to pitch for shows on other channels. We’ve not really seen a format owned by third party switch networks in the UK unless the format was dropped by the original broadcaster. Channel 4 chose to stop making Big Brother for example. Probably the biggest recent example was The Voice which the BBC also decided not to get into a bidding war over. But that was a format that the BBC had been criticised for buying in the first place as it was something they could have developed. While the intellectual property of Bake Off resides with Love Productions, it’s fair to say that the BBC helped develop the brand.

    But my question is whether this means tighter contracts over what an indie can do with a format that airs on the BBC, particularly after it’s grown and nurtured? Do exclusivity clauses become more onerous? Or when a commissioner is faced with two options – one from BBC Studios and one from an indie, are they now more likely to go for the BBC Studios option? I think I’d be a little worried if I was an indie.

  • What will audiences do? It may well be the case that if you have a TV (or internet device) you have access to both BBC One and Channel 4, but the fact remains that the same show on different networks will achieve different audiences. And in this instance, it means a smaller audience for C4. Making lots of money is not necessarily seen as a good thing in UK culture, and the fact that this is front page news means audiences know full well that the show has changed channels to make the producers more cash. Does that therefore devalue the show in audiences’ eyes? Paul and Mary are probably in a tough position right now. Stay with the show, and they might look like they’re greedy.

I’m sure Channel 4 can make this work commercially – with premium spot-rates, sponsorship and product placement opportunities. However, if it becomes too overtly commercial that does cause issues with the audience. And they’re going to have to fork out for talent one way or another.

It wouldn’t take a great deal for the BBC to come up with another cookery related competition show that didn’t break anyone’s intellectual property rights. They already air Masterchef after all, and like many other reality formats, it’s notoriously hard to pin down what’s original in this format that hasn’t been done hundreds of times before. I’m not sure that this will be the route that’s followed. There won’t be a “The Grand Tour/Top Gear” re-imagining happening. But star talent is star talent, and at this moment, I suspect Paul and Mary can choose what projects they want.

Is the show right for Channel 4? Perhaps, but it’s hard to see this sitting cheek by jowl with Naked Attraction. Yes, Jamie’s at home there, but the channel is still edgier after 9pm, and it’s not completely clear to me that it’s actually the right fit for a channel who’s remit is to be “Innovative and distinctive,” and “Champion alternative points of view.” Over on Mediatel, Ray Snoddy notes the broader issues about what such “poaching” might mean for the future of Channel 4 itself. Is it a smart thing for one public sector broadcaster to outbid another to buy the show? This isn’t the same as F1 or horse racing.

Incidentally, I don’t actually watch Bake Off very often. But I completely understand the appeal of the programme, and this is a fascinating case study.

RAJAR Q2 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!

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.)

Digital

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.

Networks

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.

Breakfast

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.

London

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

Slide1

Radio 4/Radio 4 Extra

Slide2

Absolute Radio/Absolute 80s/Absolute Radio 90s

Slide4

Capital/Capital Xtra – London

Slide3

Magic/Mellow Magic/Magic Chilled

Slide5

TalkSport/TalkRadio/Virgin Radio (by special request)

UTV

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.

The Fragmentation of the UK Radio Sector

I’ve yet to properly write about the recently published RAJAR report, Audio Time, based on the last MIDAS survey. That will come. But it does implicitly present some food for thought about the future of radio in the UK, identifying some of the threats it may face.

“Amongst 15-24s, the weekly reach of radio is very similar to the total population, but there is a clear
preference for online forms of audio – the most widely used being online music video on sites like YouTube.”

After last week’s RAJAR release, I highlighted some serious concerns about how much the amount of 15-24s listening to radio falling.

To overturn some of these trends is going to take something of a concerted effort from everyone in the radio industry. These aren’t trends that can be ignored because we can’t just expect people to discover radio when they get a bit older.

So it’s interesting at this point in time, to note how fractured UK radio actually is.

Obviously, I’m not talking about industry ownership. That’s more consolidated than ever, with Global and Bauer dominating, and the latter having just bought up Orion. But not everyone in radio is singing from the same hymn sheet.

The news that Global Radio has pulled its Patron support from the Radio Academy has, I fear, been a while in coming. For those who haven’t been following recent developments, in short the Radio Academy over-spent on major events like their Awards (aka the Sony Radio Awards) and the Radio Festival, and had to make nearly all its permanent staff redundant – with just a temporary CEO left in place.

The Radio Academy Awards were cancelled altogether – the last set of awards were in 2014, and there is currently no sign of a replacement despite promises of its return. A pretty dreadful state of affairs. If you make great radio, there’s nowhere for you to compete against all of your peers. It’s not just about having a shiny piece of perspex in a cabinet somewhere; award recognition can drive someone’s career.

Meanwhile, the Radio Festival was slimmed down and moved to London, and the organisation has been trying to reshape itself, although the recent news about Global’s withdrawal from the Radio Academy suggests that an overall appeasement has not reached. (It’s also worth reading what Paul Easton thinks about the situation and what it means for members like him.)

But beyond squabbles within the Radio Academy, if you look across the wider industry, these are not the only lines of disagreement:

  • Wireless Group, formerly UTV, pulled out of commercial radio’s trade body RadioCentre a few years ago now, as did UKRD. (As a consequence, neither enter the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, even though the awards are now open to all commercial stations, regardless of RadioCentre membership.)
  • There are certainly differences of opinion over DAB and it took tortuous negotiations to agree a Memorandum of Understanding between commercial groups, the BBC and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. And you certainly won’t find uniform agreement about any kind of potential “switch-off” or “switchover” to a fully digital broadcasting solution. As we get closer to a symbolic 50% digital listening percentage, those differences in opinion will probably only widen
  • RadioPlayer is a joined up success and most stations have bought full into it. Yet visit some of Bauer’s sites (example link) and you still won’t get the universal player as you would with Global, the BBC and most other commercial stations, despite Bauer being a shareholder in the group as a result of its purchase of Absolute Radio.
  • The only real pan-radio group is RAJAR – everyone uses the same currency. Except, of course, some smaller commercial stations and most community stations, since RAJAR’s methodology would not satisfactorily measure these stations without increasing costs massively.

I should point out most people use RadioCentre’s Clearance services to ensure that advertising copy is fully complied, and pretty much all national radio advertising is scheduled via the JICRIT system for trading.

And of course an entire industry will never see eye to eye on everything – you wouldn’t expect any industry to do so. But radio, a medium now facing unparalleled challenges, really doesn’t present a particularly united front on anything.

Following Global’s withdrawal from the Radio Academy, On Twitter, I wondered, with my tongue only very slightly in my cheek, whether in fact Sound Women was now the de facto pan-industry radio group?

Sound Women of course has a specific set of aims and ambitions, notably: “to build the confidence, networking and leadership skills of women in audio.”

To those ends, they hold events and festivals, provide training, and including a regional programme.

They’re open to all – including men – and, at least at time of writing, I believe that they’re supported by most of the radio industry including Global, Bauer and the BBC, as well as several radio indies, Skillset, RadioCentre and Ofcom. Oh, and the Radio Academy!

I must confess that I’m not a member, in large part, I suspect, because I know I would feel like an usurper attending their events. I’m a white middle-class man after all.

(Aside: It’s perhaps also because my own bête noire is the representation of diversity in radio. It shouldn’t just be defined in terms of sex or ethnicity either. As I’ve argued before, social background is at least as important, because we’re not talking to our audience while our industry is predominantly middle-class. With so many routes to entry based around unpaid work experience, we’re effectively barring those without private incomes or who’s parents can’t support them.)

Sound Women is doing an excellent job in raising key issues about the gender imbalance in radio, audio, and indeed the wider media.

But beyond them, who’s looking after the rank and file of those who work in radio, audio and beyond? What’s the venue for sharing knowledge and learning from our peers? The Radio Festival and Hall of Fame are all very well, but only a minority get to attend. The Festival tends to be aimed at managerial types. Yes – that includes me. Meanwhile the Hall of Fame is somewhere to take your talent – or for the most senior people in your station to schmooze.

Regional Radio Academy events were open to all. Anyone could attend – even non-members for a small fee. You could learn, network and discuss relevant issues with your peers. For many members – most members? – these were the only things the Radio Academy directly offered them.

Is this being lost?

Now, if you work at a Global Radio station, you’ll need to personally spend at least £36 a year to get along to an event. That said prior to notification of the upcoming 30 Under 30 event, I honestly can’t remember the last time there was an event in London – and like it or not, that’s where the big groups, and a large proportion of Radio Academy members live and work. (Yes – I know that regional events have been rather better organised, with a number of events taking place recently).

One way or another, at a time when the medium is under attack from a variety of interlopers in the radio and audio world, the industry doesn’t appear to speak with a singular voice on pretty much anything. And now we’ve reached a point where there isn’t even a single representative organisation for everyone in radio.

This seems a pretty appalling state of affairs. Maybe I’m making it sound worse than it is, but you’re going to have to work to persuade me otherwise.

It seems that corporate differences, entrenched views and personal grievances have won the day. Will the all the UK’s commercial radio groups be sending delegates to the UK’s main radio conference later this year? Will they all speak at the event? Will talent regardless of station be eligible for the Hall of Fame? Perhaps the answer to all of these will in fact be ‘Yes.’ But these are awkward questions that we shouldn’t have to be asking.

Is it time to start afresh and do something different? Do we need something that is open to all without corporate involvement? Something for individuals and beyond the reach/interference of organisations? Of course doing something different will have costs, and that raises the question of funding. In many industries, corporate patronage is a key part of making these kinds of groups viable. Is that something we need to rethink in the future if at a corporate level, agreements can’t be reached?

Yes, there are independent operations – conferences like Next Radio (The 2016 conference has just been announced!) and Radiodays Europe. But they’re relatively few, and in the latter’s case, at nearly €1000 a delegate, few employees of stations are likely to dip into their own pocket to attend, meaning that you have to rely on your employer’s support.

I look slightly enviously at Television where the BAFTA Awards still happen – BBC; ITV; C4; Sky; Netflix; Amazon; everybody represented. There’s a conference in Edinburgh that anyone serious in the industry must attend. There are events for both BAFTA and Royal Television Society members. There’s a trade body that all the major commercial groups are members of.

I’m sure it’s not all perfect, and that there are differences between members. But it looks somewhat rosier than radio from where I’m sitting.

At a time when global giants like Apple and Google are investing ever more into audio, can UK radio be outward, joined-up and inclusive, rather than inward, fractured and narcissistic?

RAJAR Q1 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!

It’s not the biggest station in the world, or indeed in London, but everyone is going to be curious how it did. In Tuesday night’s Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, Radio X won the marketing award for its launch campaign. I don’t know how much Global spent on the campaign, but it must have been a healthy seven digits, and if it was aimed at someone like me – well their targeting worked, as I saw it repeatedly.

But how has that transferred into listeners?

Last time around, we only had London numbers which weren’t extraordinary to be honest. But now we have a national picture.

In overall terms, you might consider that Radio X is doing OK. It has a reach of 1.24m and 8.8m hours. They’re both records compared with the previous Xfm figures nationally, although that should be set against Radio X getting a D1 DAB slot, meaning that it was fully national. Xfm had to make do with a number of local DAB multiplexes.

In overall terms, then a positive results. But in London, the picture is pretty poor. A reach of 337,000 represents the lowest reach figure the station has had since Q2 1999 – obviously then under its previous guise of Xfm. I don’t think there’s any way of spinning this – it’s a very poor result. Hours are not quite so bad, down on recent quarters but up on the previous year. But that reach is worrying for Global.

In Manchester, the other place where Radio X has FM transmission, reach was 179,000 which is the lowest its been since Q1 2014. Again, hours are stronger.

So something of a mixed picture for the service.

Elsewhere, if you’re waiting for news of the new channels that have launched recently on D2, then you have another three months to discover how TalkRadio, the new Virgin Radio, TalkSport 2 and the rest are doing.

Overview

The overall All Radio picture remains decent, with listening remaining over 1 billion hours. But the commercial share of radio has slipped back from 44.0% to 43.1% – the BBC’s share increasing from 53.5% to 54.1% in the last quarter.

Average hours per listener remain at 21.0 overall, the same as last quarter, but still at an all-time low.

And yes, if we look at 15-24s, the youngest age group that RAJAR reliably measures, there are some worrying records. Only 84% of this group listen to the radio (although it has been as low as 83%), but they listen for 95m hours – a new low – and spend an average 14 hours a week listening to the radio – also a new low.

There are some challenges here.

Let’s go through network by network

Radio 1 is unlikely to be happy with a quarter that saw its reach drop below 10m again. Reach is down 4.1% on the quarter, although 2.1% up on last year, to 9.907m. But the real story is in hours, where it has a new record low of 56,780,000. That’s down 8.3% on last quarter and down 12.9% on last year. Radio 1 listeners now listen for an average of 5.7 hours a week when once it was closer to 10.

Radio 2 had an excellent quarter with reach creeping up to 15.5m, while hours leapt to a new all-time record of 187m. Put another way, that’s 18.6% of all radio listening (aka market share). Its listeners spend 12.1 hours a week with the service.

Radio 3 has seen some of its best figures in quite a while, up 3.2% on the quarter and 1.6% on the year, it’s hours have grown even more. It now reaches 2.117m, its best result since 2013.

Radio 4 had a so-so quarter, with reach down 3.3% on the quarter and down 2.9% on the year. Hours were similarly down, but the station is listened to for 11.5 hours a week. (For what it’s worth, The Archers were down a little this quarter to 4.7m across its various Radio 4 outings!)

Five Live possibly benefited from an incredible Premier League season as Leicester never faltered. Its reach was up 3.4% on the quarter to 5.774m while hours were also up.

Absolute Radio followed up Tuesday night’s Station of the Year award with a very good set of results – the best since it rebranded from Virgin Radio in 2008. Reach was up 2.2% on the quarter and 9.3% on the year, with hours seeing even better improvements up 14.5% on the quarter and 8.4% on the year.

Classic FM has had a very poor quarter, down more than 7% in reach on both the quarter and the year, with even worse performances in hours, it has achieved its lowest reach and hours since the new methodology began in 1999, with 5.1m reach and 32.5m hours. However it’s worth remembering that Classic FM remains two and a half times the size of Radio 3.

TalkSport also seemed to benefit from the Premier League title run-in, with a modest quarter on quarter increase of 0.9%, but a larger increase in listening, up 2.1%.

The BBC World Service saw a small dip this quarter, down 2.7% in reach, but up 8.4% on the year. Listening hours are well up however.

Digital

Digital Listening is worth examining this quarter because RAJAR has removed – or rather, modelled out – unspecified platform listening. There was always previously a small rump of listeners who either didn’t know what platform they were listening to, or who just failed to record it.

What that means is that there have been a few jumps this quarter. Digital listening rises to 44.1% – inching ever closer to the majority of listening – although since this is a post-Christmas quarter and DAB sets get given as gifts, you might expect that to happen anyway. However that modelling does also mean that AM/FM listening rises slightly too.

And if you look within that digital listening this does also mean that Internet listening has reached a high of 7.8% of all listening.

And 63.7% of all radio listeners spend at least some of their time listening via digital platforms.

(Update: Since Phil Riley asked me, here is the position with AM/FM listening. 55.9% of listening is now AM/FM. This is up from last quarter when it was 50.7%, partially because of the modelling of unspecified listeners I mentioned above. However a good number of people still listen to at least some of their output in analogue. 75.4% of the population (or 84.5% of radio listeners) spend at least a little time on AM/FM. I would suspect that the car is a major place for this.)

6 Music has set new records – I feel like I’ve typed those words before. It’s reach is up 1.5% on the quarter (and 8.3% on the year) to 2.236m, a new record high. Listening hours are also up to a record high of 20,954,000. 6 Music listeners hear the station for 9.4 hours a week now.

Absolute 80s has had another massive quarter with its biggest ever reach of 1.72m up 9% on the quarter and 19% on the year. Hours are down a fraction however, and of course it has now moved off D1 to D2 – which means fewer people can listen to the service. It could well fall next quarter which would be a real shame.

Radio 4 Extra has slipped back a little this quarter from some recent highs. It’s not clear what’s happened, but it’s down 12.4% on the quarter and 14.8% on the year. It’s similarly down in listening hours.

LBC is obviously on FM in London, but available nationally digitally, and it has just had its best ever results with a reach of 1.54m (up 7.0% on the quarter), and 15.241m hours (up 8.1% on the quarter). It’ll be interesting t see what, if any, effect TalkRadio has on LBC next time around, but they’re clearly flying right now.

1Xtra crept up over the 1m reach again, while Kisstory had another good quarter, up a little to 1.441m. Capital Xtra was also up to a new high of 1.202m.

Absolute Radio 90s had its best ever reach of 681,000, while Absolute Radio 70s was down very slightly to 285,000.

Jazz FM – back on national DAB from next quarter’s results – had a steady quarter, up slightly in reach to 506,000 but down in hours.

And it’s always entertaining to see that The Hits is still reported. It has 693,000 listeners down nearly 15% on the quarter. I know it essentially delivers the Bauer City 3 network, but it’s not actually on any platforms aside from Freeview and the internet!

Networks and Groups

BBC Radio is basically flat on the quarter overall, with fractional changes. The same is true comparing year on year, with no change in reach, and a modest 1.7% fall in hours.

Global Radio (based on the stations they own rather than those they sell or the brands they licence), is very slightly down on the quarter (1.1% down in reach, 2.3% down in hours), but decently up on the year.

Bauer Radio (including Orion which they recently purchased, but for whom they’d been selling nationally previously) are up in reach (0.8%) but down in hours (-0.3%). Again it’s a better result on the year.

Finally, Wireless Group (previously known as UTV Radio until the sold the “TV” part of the business to ITV) saw some falls, down a fraction in reach on the quarter but down 2.7% in hours. On the year, the falls are more significant, down 6.9% in reach and 13.1% in hours. Obviously they have a host of new national services that’ll be included in next quarter’s results.

Looking more broadly at some of the networks, the Magic network increased a little to 3.434m ahead of its new services being added into the mix next quarter. Meanwhile the Smooth Network came down a little after last quarter’s record levels.

The Capital Brand achieved its highest ever reach of 8.162m up a little on last quarter. Hours are down a touch however. And the Heart Network was down a little off its record high to 9.014m, again ahead of its spin-off brand being included next quarter.

The Kiss Network performed very strongly – just short of the record it set six months ago.

Finally, the Absolute Radio Network was down a fraction on the quarter (down 0.7%) but well up on the year (11.9%) in terms of reach.

London

The first thing to say about London is that radio listening is down in the capital – quite substantially. Reach has fallen 2.7% on the last quarter, while hours have dropped 5.0%. Year on year, listening is up, but we continue to see some odd shifts in London that frankly, I wouldn’t expect to see.

So Capital has done very indeed – up a massive 10% in reach and 11% in hours (and up mre than a quarter on both measures, year on year). It’s easily the biggest commercial station in London in terms of reach.

However Heart grabs the hours crown amongst commercial stations – despite seeing its reach fall 14%, it managed to increase its hours by 4.6% on the quarter. I’m afraid I can’t explain that. Lots of people stopped listening, but those who stayed more than made up for it in terms of hours? Average hours for the station jumped from 5.1 to 6.0 in one quarter.

Meanwhile Kiss saw its reach flat in London, but hours fell by 15%. Another very curious result.

LBC is another station that saw a slight fall in reach (down 3.8%), but a massive fall in hours (down 17.4%) on the quarter.

Magic experienced a more standard pattern, being down in reach and hours (9.2% and 15.2% respectively on the quarter).

Absolute Radio was another oddity – down 6.4% in reach, yet up 22% in hours. Year on year figures were more consistently down 18% and 12% respectively.

We’ve already mentioned Radio X, so let’s draw a veil over lines on a spreadsheet that show results down about a third in reach and hours on the quarter.

Smooth could probably be said to have done well being down a little in reach but flat in hours.

That couldn’t be said for BBC Radio London down a third in reach and nearly 20% in hours on the quarter.

Incidentally – the youngest commercial station in London? Capital Xtra. But they had a disappointing quarter in the capital too, quarter on quarter, down 3.7% in reach and down nearly 10% in hours.

And because I’m a little obssessed about younger listeners, here’s a chart showing average listening hours amongst that age group falling over time in London.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the bread and butter of radio. 86% of radio listeners listen at breakfast – that is Mon-Fri between 0600 and 0900. The peak radio listening moment tends to be about 8am on a weekday.

Listening hours at breakfast account for 23.4% of all radio listening – a big chunk all things considered.

So I was interested to have a look at some overall breakfast listening trends, since it’s such a critical part of the day.

As of Q1 2016, 76.4% of the adult population listen to breakfast radio. A pretty good result, although it’s down from about 80% from five years ago. And you can see from the chart below that this does seem to be a bit of a trend.

If you look at 15-24s it falls from just over 70% to 63.3% today.

My question then is this: are we still providing the right mix of things people want at breakfast?

Obviously the smartphone has come along and is able to give us news, sport, weather, traffic and social media. Many of those things were – and are – radio staples. So what’s radio’s unique proposition? What can it do to maintain audiences and stop them departing from breakfast radio?

As for some national shows themselves?

As with the station overall, it’s not been a great quarter for Grimmy, down 7.4% in reach on the quarter, although only down 1.1% on the year. He now has 5.4m listeners.

Chris Evans on Radio 2 has – if not quite a record audience – then a very good one. He’s listened to by 9.7m people each week, up 3.1% on the quarter and 2.8% on the year.

Across the Absolute Radio Network, Christian O’Connell has his best audience ever, just short of 2m listeners, and up 4.7% on the quarter and 21% on the year. He also won big on Tuesday at the Arqiva Awards.

On TalkSport, Alan Brazil has 1.239m listeners, down a little on the quarter (-4.3%) and more heavily on the year (-16.6%). Again this reflects the overall station performance.

And Chris Moyles has 784,000 listeners which is up 16% from the previous quarter, and nearly double what Xfm was doing the year before. You would imagine that getting over 1m listeners is within reach for him.

Average Ages

Finally, we often talk about “average age” and invariably we get a mean figure which hides a lot of light and dark. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the distribution of reach by age across a number of stations.

So while the average age of a Radio 1 listener is 35, the modal age (i.e. the biggest single age) is actually 24 which is where the peak on the chart below is. Average ages get skewed by, for example, a handful of 88 year olds who just won’t let go of Radio 1 (or are forced to listen to it by their grandchildren!).

Interestingly, Radio 2 has peaks in a couple of places – between 48 and 52, and 64-69. However this is probably more to do with population demographics than anything. The latter are baby boomers for example.

The other stations are slightly lost on this scale, so here’s a second version of the chart rescaled a bit.

Because these stations are bit smaller, the charts get messier (RAJAR isn’t really designed to be looked at this way), but you can see Absolute’s peak at 34, and TalkSport’s a bit older.

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 (on his redesigned blog
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 site.
Global Radio’s site.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 3 April 2016, Adults 15+.

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.

RAJAR Q3 2015

RAJAR Q4 2013

This post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 8 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I’m delighted to be able to bring you this analysis in association with it. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

The end of October brings Halloween, and also the latest set of RAJAR numbers. Insert your own joke about the two of them here.

Let’s have a canter through the numbers and see how stations have done.

National Stations

At a time of intense scrutiny over Charter Renewal, BBC radio has had a really good RAJAR with increases nearly across the board.

Radio 1 has seen its second increase in reach in a row, heading over 10.5m listeners again, and even seeing a fractional year on year increase. Hours are very marginally down, and I fear that it will be this measure that people should really be looking at, or average hours per listener (currently 6.3) rather than reach itself.

Radio 2 has also recorded a second consecutive rise, and is heading back towards the dizzying heights of 15.5m listeners. Listening hours have fallen a little this quarter, but are still up on the previous year. The average Radio 2 listener listens for 11.8 hours a week.

Radio 3 experienced its traditional Proms uplift, and is once again just north of 2m listeners. While Radio 4 has also had a a decent result with 10.8m listeners, although like Radio 3, saw some listening dropoff over the summer.

Radio 5 Live is also looking to finally recover a bit from its big schedule changes, now a year ago. It’s back to 5.5m reach, although it’s still down on last year.

But it’s the BBC’s digital channels that really bear some examination, as they continue to grow massively. Radio 4 Extra has just broken its own record reach of a couple of months ago, with 2.2m people listening a week. Over on 5 Live Sports Extra, Ashes cricket would seem to have been the catalyst for yet another record reach for that station, with 1.7m listeners and nearly 7m hours (also a record). And 6 Music has also had record reach and hours with just fewer than 2.2m listeners a week, and it has passed 20m hours for the first time.

All of that means that BBC Radio accounts for 53.3% of all radio listening in the UK (with Radio 2 accounting for 17.5% on its own).

Does that mean commercial operators have had a dreadful quarter? Well not exactly.

Classic FM has had a very decent quarter, up 4.0% in reach to very close to 5.5m, as well as a similar increase in hours.

Talksport has also had an excellent quarter with a 3.9% increase in reach, taking it very close to 3.2m listeners. Indeed, both Classic and Talksport are very consistent players.

Absolute Radio has had an excellent quarter. It’s reach is up to over 2m for the first time since 2008 – in other words, for the first time since it rebranded from Virgin Radio. Hours are down a fraction, but that needs to be put into perspective with the network performance (see below).

Absolute 80s had a slight fall from last quarter’s record reach. On the other hand, Absolute 70s saw its reach climb to a new all time high.

Kiss had a good quarter, up 5.2% in reach, although listening hours fell. Like Radio 1, I fear that these need to be monitored very carefully.

Kiss Fresh did well getting over 500,000 again in reach, while Kisstory was flat at 1.3m.

Capital Xtra saw a big jump this quarter, up nearly 25% in reach, and nearly 20% in hours. I can’t really explain that change – although in the London market we’re used to that sort of thing.

LBC was flat in reach with just shy of 1.5m listeners – still equalling its record reach since turning truly national. Hours did dip a little however.

Xfm became Radio X on 21 September, the day after the end of this RAJAR quarter. As such, although Radio X appears in the survey for sales purposes, in actuality, it was recorded by listeners as Xfm at the time. But the impending closure of Xfm perhaps piqued listeners’ interest because reach across the network surged up to over 1m – a 14% increase on the previous quarter. Otherwise there’s simply no information in this survey as to how Radio X is performing.

Networks

As alluded to above, the Absolute Radio Network achieved a new all-time high of nearly 4.2m listeners. Hours dropped off a little, but the strength of digital performance has been key to Absolute Radio’s success.

The Capital Network has performed well this quarter up 4.9% in reach, and also seeing an increase in hours. In this period, Capital’s owners, Global Radio, bought Juice FM in Liverpool from UTV. The rebranding is apparently due for early next year, so look for the Capital Network to continue to grow.

The Heart Network also had a good quarter with its reach up 3% to just over 9.1m for the first time. It’s a new record for them.

Overall Global Radio now reaches 22m people a week listening for 194m hours.

Bauer Radio reachs 16.7m people listening for 146m hours. Both major groups are up. It’s a competitive landscape out there.

It’s worth noting that both Global and Bauer actually sell even larger audiences since they operate as sales houses for some other groups.

UTV is the third biggest group, and following the sale of the television assets to ITV, and that of Juice FM to Global, I would expect a corporate rebrand will be forthcoming, particularly with their D2 services due to launch next year. They did suffer a little unlike their big competitors, down 2.5% in reach, although broadly flat in hours. They reach 4.4m people a week delivering 32m hours.

Overall Radio Listening

Overall, radio listening is down a fraction on last quarter, but flat on the year. 89% of the population listen to the radio at least once a week, spending 21.6 hours doing so.

Breakfast

It’s breakfast that gets a lot of people excited, so here are a few highlights from this quarter.

Nick Grimshaw has seen his audience fall a small amount, with a 1.0% drop from last quarter, set against an overall increase for the station.

Chris Evans has also seen a a drop, losing about 275,000 listeners on the previous quarter.

The Today Programme on Radio 4 is of course the second biggest “breakfast show” in the country, and it has increased a little to nearly 6.8m listeners this quarter (up 1.2%).

In the commercial world Christian O’Connell saw a big jump, up 6.2% to 1.8m listeners across the entire Absolute Radio Network of services.

Aled Jones on Classic FM has nearly 1.7m listeners, up 1.8% on the last quarter. But Alan Brazil has seen his reach drop to just below 1.4m listeners on Talksport (again, against an overall station rise).

The Kiss breakfast nationally has fallen nearly 10% this quarter, and LBC will be disappointed with Nick Ferrari falling 12% this quarter to just over 900,000.

London

London listening is always interesting, with a competitive marketplace and a surprising degree of change from RAJAR period to RAJAR period (disturbingly).

The chart above shows the reach of the main commercial stations in London, as well as BBC London (or BBC Radio London as it is now known).

What this chart shows in particular is that Capital and Kiss are neck and neck in reach terms. In fact, Kiss shades Capital by 3,000 people this quarter. But Capital will also be able to say it’s the biggest [commercial] station in London with more listening hours than Kiss.

This chart also illustrates to what extent Heart’s reach has bounced around over the last few quarters. From a record low in Q3 2014, they bounced up in Q4, bak down in Q1 2015, then surged in Q2, before falling down again this quarter. You could make a decent rollercoaster out of Heart’s performance chart.

Otherwise LBC and Magic have had disappointing reach perforances this time out, with Absolute flat, and both Smooth and Xfm seeing increases – the latter again perhaps because of its imminent demise towards the end of this period.

Finally BBC London got its best result in a couple of years just ahead of its rebrand. There’s a new schedule coming there soon too, so it’ll be one to watch.

Finally, because people tend to forget it, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Radio 4 is actually the biggest station in London with 2.7m listeners and 31m listening hours (i.e. 3 times what the largest commercial station gets!). Radio 2 is actually number 2, while Radio 1 slots in behind Kiss, Capital and Magic.

Digital

The big news here is that 41.9% of listening to radio is now via a digital platform. This figure had been threatening to creep over 40% for a while, and it’s now onward to 50% which is what gets people talking about digital switchover in radio.

At the same time, those who say they listen via AM/FM has fallen to below 50% for the first time (The difference is made up of people who don’t state their platform).

Both DAB and internet listening are up to record levels with 27.7% of listening being via DAB, and 6.9% of listening via the internet, including mobile apps.

The chart above really makes clear the growth in internet listening, although broadcast DAB is still much more important.

The chart below shows listening through the day (Mon-Fri average) by the different platforms. AM/FM listening is the most normalised, while the morning and evening drivetime peaks for DAB aren’t as clearly defined because we’re less likely to have DAB in our cars.

Internet listening tends to be a post-lunchtime thing, with a peak at around 5pm. One could surmise that a lot of that is at work, but the listening on that platform continues into early evening.

On the other hand, digital TV has a clearly defined daytime trend.

Listening Location

It’s a while since I last looked at this, and although it rarely changes much, I thought it was useful to put some updated information out there on where people listen to the radio.

It doesn’t move around massively, with listening at home making up the vast majority of listening.

But with the growth of digital in-car offerings, as more and more people connect their smartphones to their car’s entertainment system (Or “infotainment” system as the manufacturers would have it), I thought it was worth seeing the extent to which internet listening in-car is growing.

We know that services like Apple Carplay and Android Auto are coming soon, and already in select models, so this will be something to keep an eye, particularly given the range of audio options the connected car will offer the driver.

The numbers are a little “fuzzy” since some of the sample sizes, particularly for 15-24s, are low. But this shows that digital is beginning to make an impact in-car, with nearly 20% of in-car listening being via a digital platform. That drops to just 1.0% for internet radio, although it’s 3.0% for the younger 15-24 demographic. Something to keep an eye perhaps, as people get better data plans, and they find it easier to hook-up their phones to their cars.

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 analysis including London
Matt Deegan has some great analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s site.
Global Radio’s site.

[Updated to correct a 1Xtra/6 Music figure]

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 20 September 2015, Adults 15+.

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.