July, 2014

RAJAR Q2 2014

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 6 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I’m delighted to be able to bring you this analysis. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

At some point I’m really going to stop writing these…. Maybe.

And I should point out up front that these are most certainly my own views and not those of either my current or previous employer.

Just so we’re really clear on that!

So what things jump out at me this quarter?


  • Total listening hours are down 0.9% on the Q but only down 0.2% on the Y.
  • And there’s a decent shift towards commercial radio this quarter, with the BBC’s share falling from 54.9% to 53.3%, while commercial radio grows from 42.0% to 43.2%.
  • Radio 2 actually lost a few listeners. Only 0.5%. But a few. Enough to fill Old Trafford.
  • Radio 1 is up a bit on the Q although down a little on the Y.
  • Absolute 80s has its biggest ever reach and hours – up 17% on the Q in listeners.
  • Five Live is up 1.7%.
  • But Talksport is up 5.6% to nearly 3.4m – a record audience for them.
  • Kisstory has passed 1m up 18% on the last quarter.
  • Kiss UK grows hours by 3.5%.
  • Capital Network is broadly flat.
  • And Absolute Radio’s Network is up to a record reach of nearly 3.8m.
  • Global Radio grows its hours by 2.7%.
  • Bauer Radio loses 1.2% of its hours.
  • LBC – now national – basically flat this quarter.

And in London:

  • BBC London achieves a record reach of 572,000 up 29% on the Q.
  • Capital London achieves its best reach in a couple of years up 15./2% on the Q. #1 in reach commercially.
  • Capital Xtra is down 13% on the Q, and is doing much worse than Choice used to do before the rebrand.
  • Heart London achieves modest growth in reach and hours. #1 in hours commercially.
  • LBC falls back a little bit in the capital this quarter.
  • Magic’s hours continue to bounce. Down 10% this Q.
  • Smooth leaps 38% in reach and 49% in hours on the Q (and 90% in reach and 138% in hours on the Y!).
  • A very disappointing Q for Xfm with some of its lowest ever reach and hours.


  • 36.8% of all listening (a joint record) is now digital.
  • 57.3% of radio listeners spend at least some of their time listening digitally.
  • A record 17.0% of listeners spend at least some of their time listening online – getting on for 1 in 5.
  • 44% of 15-24s’ listening is digital…
  • …and that means 68% of them listen at least some of the time digitally.
  • Importantly, 15.0% of 15-24s’ listening is via the internet.


Where would I be without them?

Here’s the national chart.

As ever, I recommend viewing the larger fullscreen version which includes some explanatory notes.

And here’s the London chart.

And a link to the larger version. Note that this chart in particular will take a long time to load as there’s a lot of data underlying it. Please be patient.


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

The official RAJAR site
including another nice infographic
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
The recently renamed Media.Info (née Media UK) for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for analysis
Matt Deegan may have some analysis
Media Guardian for more news and analysis
One Golden Square for more Absolute Radio details
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
And there are always RAJAR Smilies

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 22 June 2014, Adults 15+.

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.

Great Britain

Here’s something a little unusual – a play that was written and rehearsed in secrecy, only being revealed at the culmination of the hacking trial, with the first performances at the National Theatre taking place just a week later.

This certainly ticked all my boxes with the subject matter.

This a fictionalised account of the phone hacking scandal, from Richard Bean, with everything happening at The Free Press, a tabloid paper edited by Wilson (Robert Glenister) and with a newsroom led by the ambitious Paige Britain (Billie Piper). In a story that parallels, but doesn’t quite replicate reality, Britain learns from a concerned reader that it’s very easy to listen into other people’s mobile phone messages – especially if you know the network and the default PINs.

Throw in an Irish proprietor with big television ambitions, a corrupt police force subservient to the press and willing not to investigate unless they really have to, an MPs’ expenses scandal, an inept Metropolitan Police Commissioner, a journalist looking to get scoops by dressing up as an Arab prince (amongst others) and a PM who’s desperate to win the support of the press, and you have… well… something that’s not a million miles off the truth.

Oh yes, and there’s an editor with long curly hair, who simply has no idea how her paper’s stories are being generated and is genuinely shocked when it all comes home to roost!

This is a rambunctious play with everything dialed up to 11. If you’re looking for delicate performances then this really isn’t for you. It’s only a few steps away from some kind of pantomime for Guardian readers (See – I told you it ticked all my boxes). In tone, imagine an elongated version of Drop the Dead Donkey set in a newspaper rather than TV newsroom.

Piper is great playing an over the top, stop-at-nothing career obsessed news editor, never overly concerned with morals, and nearly everything else is played for laughs.

There are some great comic moments. Glenister’s news conferences are basically excuses to crack lots of bawdy gags, and that’s no bad thing. Meanwhile Aaron Neil’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sully is just goes from disaster to disaster. Every time he gives a press conference or television interview, you know you’re in for a treat.

The production design is simple but very effective with glass walls doubling as office dividers and projection screens for interstitial videoed sequences. These include Free Press TV ads (“Is your vicar on gaydar? We have the answers.”) through other newspapers’ headlines (“Guardener: We think, so you don’t have to,” and a Daily Wail who’s headline has to include the word “Immigrant” regardless of the story), and short video extracts from TV news or in one wonderful scene a select committee.

Overall, it’s a very fun way to spend an evening, even if it’s not the greatest piece of work ever. It encapsulates the madness and hideousness of the whole phone hacking debacle, and is generally a good night out. The rapid response nature of the production feels smart too. So it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s already a West End transfer taking place.

London Live

I’ll begin by admitting that I’m not and have never been a fan of former Department of Culture, Media and Sport minister Jeremy Hunt’s plans for local television. I think it speaks volumes that when the applications went in, there were remarkably few radio or newspaper groups involved in bids. Here are media organisations already in those communities with resources that could be shared across platforms, and yet they mostly stayed away.

In general, I believe that in 2014, if I want to start a TV station based on a local community, there’s very little to stop me. I certainly don’t government incentives to force the issue.

The one city I thought might be able to get things to work was London. Certainly there had been past failures, but I still feel that a city the size of London should be able to support some kind of local TV presence. The question is whether London Live is the right presence.

The fact that it comes from the same stable as the London Evening Standard (and The Independent) should have meant that it could share resources. The Standard, which as managed to turn around its fortunes by going free, still has a sizeable reporting staff who could potentially serve dual duty.

But the direction that London Live has gone, is not quite in keeping with that view. Starting anything other than a very focused channel seems a foolish thing to do in today’s age. Are you a news channel? An entertainment channel? Do you serve a demographic niche? London Live feels as though it’s trying to be all of these, and that’s just not way channels operate today. Yes, it’s smart trying to reflect the young and ethnically diverse audience that reflect London to a greater extent than more mainstream broadcasters. But they should have honed the offering more.

The trouble is that television is expensive. And that’s why many radio and newspaper groups didn’t bid. So you end up having hours to fill with little money to do so. In London Live’s case that means repeats of dramas and comedies from the BBC and Channel 4 set in and around London.

Then there were the mistakes like going onto the television ratings system BARB too early. On the one hand, getting BARB figures means that you can start to sell advertising to big agencies, it also means that anyone can look at some of your dismal performances. For a fledgling TV service that is only really available in one part of one region to go onto a national ratings service feels foolhardy. It would have been more sensible to get up and running before paying significantly for BARB ratings.

Now we read that London Live has applied to significantly vary its licence to remove lots of the local programming its made from the schedules – including peak. Partly, that’s probably the right thing to do. All those cheaply made documentaries on food, music and entertainment are probably not worthwhile. But on the other hand, they could be doing other things differently. Their most serious news programmes go out in the middle of the day. Why not the evening? And why even bother competing with the BBC and ITV during the 6.00-7.00pm hour? Instead, use the fact that Londoners have a longer rush “hour” than many other parts of the country, and that we’re not all home available to view at 6.30pm. Put something on at 7.00pm. And then repeat it at 8.00pm and 9.00pm. It can still be a bit entertainment led if need be. I’m not expecting hard news. But something reflecting the very broad diaspora of London.

There is a common argument that London is too big to be “local”, but however you define it, people want to know what’s going on around them.

And be prepared to drop everything to broadcast non-stop at a major breaking news event. Sure, you won’t have the manpower or resource of BBC News or Sky News, but social media means everyone can get involved.

A few other pointers:

– If you’re going to buy series like The Shadow Line or Ultraviolet, then sort out your EPG so it includes episode numbers. I know that they’re getting plenty of repeats, but if I can’t work out where to start, then I’m not going to watch a serialised shows. (Yes, the online schedule has this detail, but it’s missing on the Sky EPG).

– I wouldn’t really expect an HD version of a startup channel like London Live, but don’t go for the cheapest carriage possible. The SD encoding of London Live on satellite looks dreadful. Think about how many of your urban affluent viewers have large TVs to show up this shortcoming. It makes viewing painful.

– And The Evening Standard really needs to change how it treats London Live. Yes, plug it daily. But don’t put it to the left of BBC1, BBC2, ITV and C4. That’s nonsense. It’s not more important than those – it needs to earn its place with your readers. Certainly include it – Murdoch titles long ago added Sky 1 just past Channel 5, but even they didn’t somehow make out the channel was “bigger” than the terrestrials. Similarly, don’t try to make some TV previewer find something worthwhile to watch every night on your channel. There’s only so many times an old episode of Peep Show can be considered as one of the best things to watch tonight on telly – even in the height of the summer.

If Ofcom does allow London Live to substantially vary its schedule it’ll be interesting to see what happens in its place. Because if it’s just going to end up a low-rent version of Dave or Comedy Central, then it won’t be able to compete – and it shouldn’t be able to. Those are better funded and much more focused channels. Let’s not forget that ventures like this are receiving £40m of Licence Fee money – £25m for transmission costs (via Comux), and £15m for acquisition from the local TV operators. Incidentally, it’d be good to know what the BBC has acquired thus far for rebroadcasting…

If you were going to start with a local “TV” service today, my first thought is that it wouldn’t be on television – not in the traditional sense. I’d start a YouTube channel and let Google pay for my distribution costs (and viewers through their ISP subscriptions). I therefore don’t need to fill 24 hours of every day with something – just a tightly produced ten minutes daily, or less, would suffice. I’d get interested locals to help, and local colleges and universities.

Using YouTube, I’d automatically find myself “available” on every digital platform as well as many smart TVs (and non-smart ones via Chromecast etc). I’d build a social media presence – Facebook and Twitter would be a large part of the operation.

Indeed I’d do what a large number of enterprising people are already doing – the so-called “YouTubers”.

Elsewhere: Roy Greenslade picks up on a good piece from John Myers on the lack of viability of these channels’ business plans.

Au Revoir Le Tour

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3 - Cambridge to London-10

The third and final stage of this year’s Tour de France in the UK was the fast(ish) and flat Cambridge to London run. And this time, I actually cycled out to meet the Tour from home. That meant carrying just a small camera, and unfortunately the proof is in the pudding. I entirely missed taking a photo of the breakaway because I didn’t have my camera out. And the photos I did manage aren’t always in focus. C’est la vie!

What was great fun afterwards, was cycling a 10km or so stretch of the route back into town. It was completely closed to traffic, so it was just a question of cycling past many village parties getting the odd cheer or high five.

All in all, a wonderful three days.

Come back soon!

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3 - Cambridge to London-2

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3 - Cambridge to London-8

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3 - Cambridge to London-11

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3 - Cambridge to London-15

More photos on Flickr.

Tour de France 2014 Stage 1 – Yorkshire En Fête

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-5

Depart London 5am.

Arrive North Yorkshire 9.30am.

Get lost a little because of road closures, and then find a nice little place to park. Then take a three mile hike onto Grinton Moor (or Cote de Griton Moor as the French both renamed and mispelled it).

Realise that you really should have brought your bike in the small hire car you rented because nearly everyone else is cycling.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-7

Find a spot that’s actually significantly above the official finish of the category 3 climb (Nope – I’ve no idea why they didn’t put it at the actual top).

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-16

Delight in discovering that your portable TV works and gets good reception to watch live ITV/ITV4 coverage while you wait – remembering that there’s only a two hour or so battery life.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-23

Watch the very prepared Scottish chap next to you paint an elaborate King of the Mountains jersey on the road using special spray can chalk, that washes away in the rain, that he bought specially from Germany.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-24

Watch two very industrious little girls spend many hours writing the name of every cyclist they – or their father – can think of. Ironically one of the names is that of Jens Voigt, who was captured right in front of us, after yet another heroic escape that saw him take the King of the Mountains jersey.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-26

Take photos.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-31

Walk back to the car in time to watch the last 10km on your portable TV, including Mark Cavendish’s terribly unlucky crash.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-33

Drive to hotel.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-35

Discover hotel’s WiFi is down. But Leeds’ 4G is good (on EE). 0.5GB of photos uploaded.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-37

Rinse and repeat.

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-39


Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1 - Leeds to Harrogate-46

Plenty more photos on Flickr.

Big Data Really Works

Two great examples!

Despite a wealth of left-leaning and liberal titles bought from Amazon over the years, yesterday they sent me this special one day deal:


More on the money was the fact that I like a bit of folk music. So a targeted Amazon folk email seems sensible, especially as it highlights the brand new Bellowhead album, Revival, that was released this week.


However I actually pre-ordered and bought the album from Amazon – I received it on Monday!

OK. The Kindle daily ebook email is a standard thing and it’s the same for everybody. For whatever reason Amazon chose a Nigel Farage title to promote yesterday. Today it’s a Jeffrey Archer novel incidentally. Not sure what that says about the Kindle team’s political leanings.

And the reason for the Bellowhead duplicate? Well I bought the “deluxe” edition (i.e. with an extra CD), and I’ve no doubt that Amazon’s system somehow sees this as a different product altogether. After all, it has a different ASIN (Amazon product identifier).

On DAB and Five Live

It was a really interesting day for radio today with several important announcements.

Of most interest to me was the formal announcement of the advertisement for a second national DAB multiplex. You may remember that back in 2007, this multiplex was previously advertised with Channel 4 winning it ahead of NGW the transmission supplier (since bought by Arqiva). Channel Four promised a lot, but after winning the bid, the whole thing fell apart when Channel 4 decided it needed to shore up its television offering without heading out into the great unknown of radio. The timing probably wasn’t great, just ahead of the 2008 downturn. And indeed, shortly thereafter, the existing national DAB operator, Digital One, was struggling to fill its capacity.

Ofcom went away a bit battered and bruised from the experience, and it’s clear that they weren’t going to return to the field of play until they could be certain that a new licensee would launch successfully with a range of services.

Flash forward to today and Ofcom is again announcing a second national multiplex. Given where we are today, and the fact that Digital One is full, I don’t anticipate any problems finding bidders and filling this multiplex with services.

As is required by law, the winner will be awarded the multiplex via a “beauty contest.” That is, what in Ofcom’s view is the best mix of services appealing to a wide range of audiences, as well as having a sound business plan and a plan to roll out the service to a good proportion of the population.

Interestingly, while the multiplex as a whole needs to be complementary – i.e. services all need to be a bit different – you can directly target services carried on Digital One.

One other thing I noticed is that in Annex I of the announcement, Ofcom lists the currently licenced services on Digital One. These include:
“TBA: A service featuring music from the 70s, 80s and early 90s with particular appeal to audiences aged 35-54.”

The mooted Heart Club Classics/Heart Extra that has yet to launch from Global? Or the also mooted move of Magic to a national DAB platform? [See comments below]

Allied with this announcement is a revised set of technical requirements for DAB. They’re mostly important but minor things that I won’t comment on further here. But of particular note is the fact that D2 can use up to 30% of the new multiplex’s capacity for DAB+ broadcasts. What’s really strange is that they’ve limited it at all. It seems that pretty much everyone who responded to Ofcom’s initial consultation on this matter thought that there really shouldn’t be a limit to this and the market will dictate it.

This is certainly true. Trials aside, a broadcaster is very unlikely to broadcast in DAB+ until they are certain that there are a decent number of potential listeners in the marketplace with compatible sets. If nobody can hear you, then you can’t make your commercial station work. Broadcasters can make that decision for themselves.

Ofcom is going to look again at the limit in 2018. Which is fine, but feels like it’s making work where none is really necessary and overall is a little nannyish.

And DAB+ is only going to be initially allowed on D2. For everyone else, you have to apply to Ofcom on a case by case basis if you want to either launch a new service in DAB+ on your existing multiplex, or switch your current one to the new technology. Again it feels over-regulated. If allowed to do as they liked, broadcasters would very carefully weigh up the pros and cons of switching technologies, well aware of the fact that they would almost certainly lose audience at this stage. Ofcom somehow thinks that broadcasters might deprive listeners of current DAB services by replacing them with DAB+ ahead of consumer uptake. Again, that’s wrong thinking.

That all said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a test here or there on a multiplex that otherwise has plenty of space.

Let’s not get too side-tracked about the relative merits of DAB and DAB+. I always feel that it should be likened to Freeview and Freeview HD. If you’re still watching digital television using a first generation OnDigital box, then your viewing is pretty limited now [Update: Thanks to James Hamilton for letting me know that those old OnDigital boxes were completely broken by DSO if they hadn’t been already]. Today, however, pretty much every television comes with Freeview HD built in, and many can also receive Freeview Connect and similar streaming services. As for the range of channels? Well nobody is going to get too excited by Channel 4+1 HD or 4seven HD which were recently announced as coming soon to Freeview. But that’s a commercial decision for channel operators and multiplex owner Arqiva.

Anyway, if you want to bid for the second national DAB multiplex, you have until the end of October to get your application in with your £50,000 application fee.

The other big news was the announcement of major changes across BBC Radio Five Live’s weekday daytime output. This sees the departure of big hitters like Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Richard Bacon.

The station is shrinking three shows down to two – which I imagine is part of their DQF savings – with the multiple-award winning Derbyshire being replaced by Adrian Chiles for part of the week and Peter Allen for the other part of the week. Once ITV’s contract with the Champions’ League has ended, Chiles is going to have more time to do things like radio, although there’s still a season of that to run, so Chiles may be heading to Manchester airport sharpish on Tuesdays if he’s still in the chair for away games next season.

The morning show extends to three hours, and then an extended afternoon show begins with Dan Walker and Sarah Brett replacing Richard Bacon. I’ve always liked Richard Bacon, as he knows his stuff – but he’s perhaps not the world’s greatest sports fan which can be a problem on Five Live. And sometimes he feels a little uncomfortable during breaking news when he has to segue seamlessly from what’s on TV this week to some court case verdict. There were rumours that he was up for ITV’s breakfast relaunch. One way or another, he’s going to pop up somewhere else fairly soon, I’ve no doubt. On Twitter this afternoon, Bacon said that it was his choice to leave Five Live.

I’d also imagine that Victoria Derbyshire and Shelagh Fogarty will show up either on Radio 4 or TV fairly soon, with an unnamed TV news project for Derbyshire first up.

Perhaps, because this would seem to remove some high profile women from the schedule, as well as Sarah Brett co-presenting afternoons with Dan Walker, Eleanor Oldroyd gets a Friday lunchtime show ahead of the still-two-hours Mayo and Kermode Film Review.

The lack of solo female shows is also going to be highlighted, with two staples disappearing, especially following previous announcements that suggested the BBC wanted a much more even male/female presenting split. I’d also argue that lack of racial diversity might also be an issue.

Tony Livesey is perhaps the big winner. He’s progressed from late nights, to weekend breakfast, and now taking over Drive with Anna Foster. While I can never quite forget that he was once the editor of the Sunday Sport and famously appeared in a Channel Four Cutting Edge documentary about the paper. But he’s very good, and will slide pretty comfortably into the role.

There are a range of other changes including a new pair of Fighting Talk presenters for next season, as well as some other presentational changes. Five Live certainly doesn’t do things by halves.

As a fairly regular listener – it’s my default station – I’ll be paying close attention!

Disclaimer: As always, these are my views, and they do not reflect those of any past or current employer. They are mine alone. Just so we’re clear! Also, I listen to a lot of Five Live.