RAJAR Q1 2018

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UK radio is now more listened to via a digital platform than it is an analogue one. The rise has been steady over a number of years but as the chart below shows, we’ve finally seen the percentage of all radio listening breach 50% this quarter.

As I said previously, while this theoretically should kick-start the process for a digital switch-over, I don’t actually foresee anything major happening at this point.

What I’m not saying is that a great deal will happen very quickly once the 50% mark is breached. While theoretically allows processes to begin for an analogue to digital switchover for radio, I just don’t see that happening very soon. Generally speaking other things are using up lots of Parliamentary time at the moment. Similarly, I suspect that recently announced radio deregulation will take longer than many might hope, because there just isn’t time to fit in the primary legislation required to do anything.

Ofcom published a good primer on the subject last year:

In July 2010 the Government launched its Digital Radio Action Plan. As part of this, it was requested that Ofcom produce an annual review of the digital radio market.

The Action Plan was launched to ensure that if and when digital switchover occurs in radio, it can be delivered at a time when the market is ready and in a way that protects the needs of listeners.

The Government stated that a decision on whether to set a date for digital radio switchover would be considered when the following criteria are met:

  • when 50% of all radio listening is via digital platforms; and
  • when national DAB coverage is comparable to FM, and local DAB reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.

The Action Plan was finalised in November 2013, and on 16 December 2013 DCMS announced that while there had been steady growth in digital listening, it was not yet the time to commit to a switchover. The last version of the Digital Radio Action Plan was published in January 2014.

And of course the one outstanding key challenge is in-car listening. At this point 33.4% of in-car listening is digital. That’s good, and the vast majority of new cars come with DAB as standard. But there are lot of other cars on the road.

Elsewhere, it’s also worth noting that Q1 each year usually sees a bump in listenership because of devices sold over the Christmas period. This year, an awful lot of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices were sold. But stalwart DAB radios always do well at this time of year too. Combined, they mean that post Christmas, people change the way they listen to the radio.

Radio Listening

Reach is up to 49.2m people a week, or 90% of the population. But average hours per listener have fallen below 21 for the first time, down to 20.8 hours a week. Inevitably that’s a consequence of other things eating into overall radio listenership.

I hate to keep labour the same point every quarter, but this is being driven to a significant extent by younger listeners. 15-24s now only listen for an average of 12.7 hours a week, which is a whole hour lower than the previous lowest figure. To put this in context, five years ago this group listened for 15.8 hours a week.

The one thing I would bring to bear from this, is that any formats or licences that target listeners by age groups – particular younger groups – are on a hiding to nothing. For example, Radio 1’s average age is 35 (down from 36 last quarter), and at this point, it’s essentially impossible to lower its average age.

National and Digital

It has been a decent quarter for Commercial Radio, with reach up 1.5% on last quarter and 4.2% on last year, just putting it ahead of BBC Radio in overall terms.

BBC Radio has more listening, despite seeing hours fall 3.2% on last quarter, and 1.5% down on last year.

The BBC national radio networks have all seen some disappointing numbers this quarter. Five Live is perhaps most disappointing with a fall in reach of 5.7% on the last quarter, to 5.1m (down 3.7% on last year). Listening hours are worse being 9.2% down on the quarter and 13.0% down on the year.

Such are the declines that I’d probably wait another quarter to be certain that they’ve not just had a bad RAJAR. While the Premier League hasn’t been the most exciting this year, there was plenty of football on during this period, and it was a generally busy time for both news and sport.

Perhaps all the listeners have gone to 6 Music, because they’ve had another superb set of results, with record reach and hours. Reach is up 8.0% on the quarter (up 8.0% on the year), to 2.5m. Hours are up a whopping 12.3% on the quarter (and up a more modest 3.2% on the year).

The interesting thing here is that 6 Music listeners might be considered to be the kind of people more likely to have Spotify or Apple Music (RAJAR doesn’t measure that), so the audience is rising at the same time as more of its audience has access to more music. Indeed, as with younger demos, 35-44s are seeing a gradual decline in time spent listening, which somehow 6 Music is overcoming. That said, the average age of a 6 Music listener is 43, and that has crept up from 38 over time.

There’s probably an interesting question to asked around the musical breadth of knowledge of a 6 Music listeners – or at least their desire to have one – and the need for guiding voices in the stations’ presenters. On the other hand, a station that plays a much tighter playlist might have less demanding listeners, and therefore find itself more susceptible to listeners switching to playlists on Spotify et al. That said, listeners to those stations are probably less likely to spend £9.99 a month on music.

But I’m hypothesising wildly here. Let’s get back to the numbers.

Radio 1 will be disappointed with its fall this quarter after a decent set of results last time. It’s down 3.8% in reach on last quarter, although it’s up 4.0% on last year. Hours are also down, falling 7.7% on last quarter, but just falling 0.5% on last year. More worrying is that the average listener spends just 6.0 hours a week with the station.

Radio 2 sees small falls too, with reach down a fractional 0.5% on the quarter while being up 2.6% on the year. Hours are down 5.1% on the quarter however, and down 2.5% on the year.

The station has just made some of the biggest changes to its weekday schedule that it’s done for years, but it’s going to be another couple of quarters before we can see the first results of that. And even then, the most notable change in peak, is a slight change in hours of Simon Mayo’s show and the introduction of Jo Whiley to the mix.

Radio 3 is down 0.9% in reach on the quarter, but up 2.6% on the year. Hours are somewhat better as it jumps 5.6% on the quarter and 2.7% on the year.

Radio 4 ducks just below 11m in reach with a fall of 3.0% on the quarter (down 1.8% on the year). Hours are up 0.9% on the quarter, but down 4.0% on the year. It’s not as though there’s a shortage of news, but one suspects there’s only so much Brexit/Trump that some listeners can take, hence the slight dip in reach after a strong run of results in recent quarters.

Radio 4 Extra has had a disappointing quarter with reach down 8.1% on the quarter, although up 3.1% on the year – which if nothing else shows that smaller stations can see their numbers bounce around. Perhaps more concerning is the 15.6% fall in hours on the quarter (and a 8.0% fall on the year).

The World Service remains fairly consistent with 1.4m listeners down 5.1% on the quarter, but up 7.4% on the year. Hours are up slightly with 3.4% growth on the quarter and 2.3% growth on the year.

Classic FM has had a solid set of results with reach down a little to 5.6m – down 1.7% on the quarter, but up 4.0% on the year. Hours are a little more mixed falling 4.1% on the quarter yet rising 10.2% on the year.

Talksport has had a some of its best numbers for a while, and has risen back above 3m again to 3.1m reach – an 8.9% rise on the quarter and a massive 14.3% rise on the year. Meanwhile hours are back over 20m and are up a massive 25.4% on the quarter and 13.5% on the year. The station continues to receive newspaper marketing support from its parent company News UK, and they again seem to be more active in the sports rights market. Although not in this RAJAR period, they have recently bought some England Test cricket rights for upcoming overseas tours to Sri Lanka and the West Indies, while they also had exclusive radio commentary of the recent Anthony Joshua fight.

Digital sibling, Talksport 2 has some positive numbers with reach up 1.0% on the quarter, although up 15.9% on the year. More importantly, hours are up 37.2% on the quarter and 49.9% on the year. Perhaps their EFL rights which largely sit on Talksport 2, are beginning to pay off?

Good news for Talksport 2 listeners and others on the SDL mulitplex, is that owner Arqiva on Tuesday announced that they will be extending the reach of the mulitplex by a further 4m with 19 new transmitters due to come on board.

That will also be useful for TalkRadio, which had some positive numbers as well, with reach up 30.6% on the quarter (32.8% on the year) and hours massively increasing, up 55.7% on the quarter (up 155.7% on the year). While these are good numbers, there’s no doubt that the format is expensive, and the station needs to see more growth to get it from 316,000 reach closer to somewhere around 1m.

Absolute Radio had some great results last quarter, but slipped back to 2.4m this quarter, down 7.3% in reach, although still up 11.4% on the year. In hours terms they were flat – really flat. 18,517,000 last quarter v 18,514,000 this quarter. And they were up 6.4% versus last year.

Christian O’Connell leaves Absolute Radio tomorrow, before he relocates to Australia to present the breakfast show on Gold FM in Melbourne. These therefore aren’t quite the final set of results for his tenure at the station.

The wider Absolute Radio Network has fallen a little, down 3.2% on the quarter, although still up 7.2% on the year in reach. Hours fell 4.4% on the quarter and were down 2.0% on the year.

Absolute 80s, however, did better this quarter, growing 5.8% on the quarter and up 14.8% on the year in reach. It also rose 13.5% in hours on the quarter, but fell 11.1% on the year.

Recall that Absolute 80s has a new competitor on the block in the form of Heart 80s, and the newcomer has better coverage being on D1 rather than SDL where Absolute 80s moved to (Again, the increase in coverage of the SDL mux should benefit Absolute 80s in due course).

Heart 80s also grew, rising 20% on the quarter (it’s too new for year on year figures), while hours dipped 5.5%.

For those keeping score, Absolute 80s is 161,000 listeners ahead of Heart 80s with 1.560m listeners. Although as an aside, it’s clear that the two stations, whilst both featuring music from the 80s, are actually quite different. Read this excellent and enlightening Twitter thread from Nik Goodman to get a better understanding of the differences.

Partly as a result of the success of Heart 80s, the Heart Brand (including all the local Heart stations, Heart 80s and Heart Extra) overall has had some good results. Reach is up 3.6% on the quarter and up 6.1% on the year, while hours are up 1.9% on the quarter, although down 1.9% on the year.

Sister network, Capital Brand, fared less well with reach down slightly – down 0.7% on the quarter and down 0.8% on the year. Hours fared slightly worse, perhaps reflecting wider listening behaviours in their target age group, with a fall of 7.1% on the quarter and a fall of 7.8% on the year.

The Kiss Network targets a similar age group, and saw falls on the quarter, although better results compared with this time last year. Reach was down 0.8% on the quarter but up 9.0% on the year, while hours fell 12.2% on the quarter but were up 3.2% on the year.

The Magic Network didn’t have a great quarter with reach down 3.4% on the quarter, although up 5.8% on the year. Hours are down 3.7% on the quarter and down 2.7% on the year. None of their digital sister stations, Magic Chilled, Magic Soul and Mellow Magic are doing enormously well, with only Magic Soul seeing an increase this quarter. Mellow Magic is the biggest of the three with a reach of 432,000 and 1.7m hours.

LBC is one of the better performers this time around, and whatever you think of it, their mix of politically charged presenters and the various politicians (and ex-politicians) that they get in for phone ins, seems to work well for them.

Reach is up 7.1% on the quarter and 21.5% on the year to 2.2m. That’s their biggest ever audience under the current methodology (You’d probably have to go back to the 70s or 80s to get a bigger audience for its FM in London, and at that time, there were only two commercial stations in the capital).

Hours aren’t quite a record, but they’re up 0.3% on the quarter and 5.7% on the year.

Jazz FM isn’t a station I mention too often, but I probably should. Their reach is up 16.1% this quarter (and up 22.4%) on the year, to 591,000. Hours slipped to 1.7m – down 18.7% on the quarter, although up 7.6% on the year. I mention this particularly to put their numbers in perspective with some of the other newer, but smaller digital stations.


The London radio market is always worth looking at – if only for signs of things to come. The average London listens to 19.4 hours of radio a week – so a bit less than the UK average. In part, that will be due to fewer people driving in London, but it might also be down to things like propensity to subscribe to other audio services.

19.4 hours isn’t the lowest we’ve seen – that was 19.1 hours a week back in Q2 2017. But it’s definitely part of a trend that last saw the average London listening to the radio for more than 20 hours being back in the middle of 2016.

I will also dutifully point out that the most listened to radio station in London is, as always, Radio 4 with 2.7m listeners. That’s followed by Radio 2 with 2.1m, itself very closely followed by Capital London, also with 2.1m (I’m rounding here for simplicity).

So Capital is the reach leader commercially (Radio 1 has a reach of 1.6m). The station is up in reach on the quarter (up 1.4%), but down on the year (down 4.6%). In hours terms, it’s not so good, with a 7.9% fall on the quarter to 9.0m hours and a 16.6% fall on the year.

Heart London is the commercial music leader in terms of hours with 10.1m, up 11.6% on the quarter and up 8.8% on the year. Reach is down 4.2% on the quarter but up 7.0% on the year.

Another figure to mull over when comparing the two Global stations is their respective average hours. For Heart it’s 6.7 hours a week, but for Capital it’s just 4.2 hours a week. That feels very low for a market leader. Just a year ago, it was 4.8 hours a week.

Kiss is a close competitor to both these two services, with 1.9m reach (down 3.7% on the quarter and up 8.3% on the year) and 9.6m hours (down 10.1% on the quarter and up 14.4% on the year). It has 4.9 hours per week average listening.

But the actual commercial hours leader in London is of course LBC which has grown in London as it has done nationally. Reach is up 3.3% on the quarter and 17.1% on the year to 1.3m, while hours are basically flat at 11.2m (down 0.1% on the quarter and down 3.0% on the year). It’s listeners spend 8.9 hours a week with it. And interestingly, their average age has just fallen to 49. LBC is perhaps younger than you think…

Magic has not had a great set of results this quarter in London, falling 12.3% in reach on the quarter and down 5.7% on the year. In hours, they’re down 11.6% on the quarter and down 4.6% on the year.

A couple of other Global services with good figures are Radio X and Smooth. Very different, but both showing positive moves.

Radio X has seen its best reach since its rebrand from Xfm, and indeed even if you include Xfm’s numbers, it’s best figures since 2013. It’s reach is up 4.3% on the quarter and remarkable 40.5% on the year, to 531,000.

In terms of hours, it’s an even better story, with hours up 14.3% on the quarter and up 81.9% on the year to 3.7m. That’s an average of 7.0 hours a listener per week, and the best hours the station has had since it was Xfm in 2004! Global has spent a lot over time marketing the service, and it may be coming to fruition.

Smooth said goodbye to Russ Williams on breakfast, but he left as the station put on 13.3% reach in London on the quarter (and up 6.6% on the year), while hours were up 6.8% on the quarter and up 0.3% on the year.

BBC London‘s numbers have been a little all over the place of late. Last quarter they had some incredibly good record breaking numbers, and things have, perhaps, “normalised” a little this quarter. Reach is down 20.9% on the quarter, but still up 38.0% on the year to 454,000. Meanwhile hours are down 50.5% on the quarter, but up 59.6% on the year to 2.1m. The station’s numbers are, frankly, bouncing ridiculously. 50% swings between quarters don’t happen, and it suggests that measuring the station’s audience is hard.

BBC London aside, it feels like RAJAR in London isn’t swinging around as wildly as it had in the past, which is much better for the currency.


RAJAR’s MIDAS survey isn’t actually part of the regular RAJAR release and was published last week. But I thought that there were a few things that were worth mentioning here.

11% of the UK population listen to a podcast in any given week – that’s 6.0m people (down very slightly from last time around, although the trend remains upwards).

Radio’s share of all audio is at 75% which is the same as last time around.

But if there’s a theme, it’s that the share of audio that is live radio for 15-24s has fallen below 50% for the first time. In the Winter 2017 survey it was at 50% for this demo, and 63% for 25-34s. However, in this new release, the share amongst 15-24s has fallen to 46%, while that among 25-34s is the same as before. On the other hand, on demand music services (e.g. Spotify) has grown from 28% to 34% for the younger demo.

This rate of change is fast, and it’s entirely conceivable that within a year, radio will have fallen below on demand music services for 15-24s.

At the moment this is a youth oriented issue. Among 35-54s, only 6% of audio is on demand music, and it drops to 1% for 55+. That offers some comfort to radio, but it will need to adapt to match the growth of these new services.

The full MIDAS release is here.

Further Reading

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

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

All my previous RAJAR analyses are here.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos MORI/RSMB, period ending 1 April 2018, 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.

Polling and the Scottish Referendum

Fort William-73

What an interesting few weeks it has been for poll-watching. I say that from my London perspective. Obviously north of the border, this is a debate that has been running for years now, and us southerners have only really woken up to it recently.

In particular, we woke up to it following a Sunday Times poll a few weeks ago that suggested that the Yes camp might actually win – and Scotland leave the Union.

However, in terms of the science of polling, there are some fascinating pieces being written about the difficulties faced by polling companies in this referendum. They would seem to boil down to the following:

– Nobody has polled a referendum like this before, making it really hard
– The potential “shy Noes”
– An actual result ~50% has the biggest margin of error possible

Let’s go through those one by one.

Polling companies tend to rely very heavily on previous voter behaviour to predict what is going to happen. They can try to weight for actual behaviour last time when trying to predict what will happen this time. They know which groups are likely to vote (the elderly) and which aren’t (the young). And they’ve got solutions in place for issues that they’ve encountered before.

For example on last week’s More or Less on Radio 4, the example was given of Conservative voters in the 90s. People were a bit nervous about admitting that they would vote Conservative – even to pollsters. Polling organisations have to take account of that.

But when you have no historical data to work from, and when so many new registrations have been made, leading to what will surely be a record turnout, you really don’t know for certain what’s going to happen.

The “shy Noes” are a good example of this. There’s a view that the noisy and vociferous “Yes” campaign has caused those who are voting “No” to keep shut up – some even claim to be scared of admitting in public that they’re a “No.” Not living in Scotland (although I did for year in the early 90s), it’s hard to know what the truth is. I do know that when I watched the BBC debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, it felt like Salmond won as much for the much louder cheering he got from the audience. It’s not at all surprising that “Yes” can be made to feel much more positive than “No.”

Statistically, if the true result is somewhere in the region of 50% behaving one way, the margin of error is worse than if the results was say 10% or 90%. With a result down the middle, you get a bigger margin of error, or you need a significantly bigger sample to mitigate against this. Even if polling organisations do the latter, there’s no guarantee that they’ll not end up wrong though because of the first two issues I’ve raised.

There are some worthwhile pieces of reading from Anthony Wells of YouGov and Ben Page of Ipsos MORI that get into this in a bit more detail.

Also of interest is the fact that Betfair is paying out for “No” ahead of the vote. Bookies are rarely wrong.

My own personal belief is that, despite that polling scares, the “No” vote will get it. I think the margin will be bigger than the currently reported 4% in the polls, as I think the “shy Noes” are a real thing. Added to which older “No” voters are more likely to get to Polling Stations that younger “Yes” voters and actually cast their votes. Indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if the margin was as big as 8-10%.

You can give me a large slice of humble pie to eat on Friday morning if I’m wrong.

As for which way Scots should vote? Well my grandfather was Scottish, and thus I could represent Scotland in many sports (were I good enough); I’ve been on holiday there many times; I’ve lived there for a time; and my name is Scottish – affiliated with the McDonald Clan, you can find a Ben Bowie near the southern edge of Loch Lomond. I love Scotland. But for the life of me, I can’t see that a “Yes” vote would be anything other than disastrous for the people. The oil reserves are a big unknown – improved extraction techniques not withstanding. Salmond still hasn’t given a satisfactory answer as to how he could use the pound (and he won’t be using the Euro). Prices will have to rise – it’s the cost of doing cross-border business. And I can’t see any way now that Scotland won’t get devomax. So in many respects it’s a win for Scotland anyway. The complaints of about lack of representation in Westminster are no worse than much of northern England. Getting into the EU isn’t a given (Spain won’t be in a rush to let Scotland in for example).

Oddly enough I find Alex Salmond the weakest part of the “Yes” campaign. Beyond his lack of a cogently-argued economic policies, his brown-nosing of Rupert Murdoch is worse than anything Tony Blair did. And his obsequiousness towards Donald Trump, as highlighted in Anthony Baxter’s excellent You’ve Been Trumped (and apparently, in his follow up that I’ve yet to see – A Dangerous Game) did not endear me to the man. I’m told that in Scotland, the “Yes” campaign is more than just about Salmond. But you wouldn’t know that from afar.

Interestingly, the Scottish Sun has failed to come out for the “Yes” camp as many had been suspecting. But as much as anything, this will be a commercial decision made by Murdoch, much as he’d like to give Westminster a bloody nose after the whole phone hacking fallout. It’s never so much “The Sun Wot Won It” as “The Sun backs the winner.” This time around they don’t know who the winner will be. And backing the wrong horse could endanger sales.

I think one of the toughest things after this campaign, is the Scottish people reconciling their futures with one another. Whichever way the vote goes tomorrow, half the people are going to be disappointed – bitterly disappointed in many cases. That’s going to take more getting over than a general election, where you always know that within 4-5 years, you’ll get another chance.

Finally, if you’ve not seen John Oliver on this, then he’s very much worth a watch. And they’ve un-geoblocked this segment for us Brits especially!

(Just nobody point this out to them. I can trust you on that can’t I? Mum’s the word.)

Some Media Reading

There have been a few reports, publications and press releases recently that are worth highlighting.
The BBC has published its latest monthly iPlayer Performance Pack detailing results for July 2010. I always find this is worth a read.
It’s interesting to note that requests for BBC iPlayer dipped a bit during both June and July. While the weather is almost certainly a contributing factor (and we’re obviously not all into watching programmes on our laptops in the garden), this was during the period of the World Cup which ate up much of the primetime schedule. Even when ITV was showing games, the BBC tended to counter with repeats and non-essential programming.
The slide on page 11 of the report makes for interesting reading too. It details average weekly use of the iPlayer. It breaks out radio, TV, and users of both. So in the week of 26 July, 4.3m users (or more particularly, “user agents”) used the TV functionality, while 1.3m used radio. 0.4m used both. That means an awful lot of people are using TV but not using radio – 9% in fact. Whereas around 31% of radio users also use TV. Seeing how that 9% changes over a longer period will be something to watch out for.
That said, people who listen to radio listen for much longer than television. In July radio users averaged 184 minutes, whereas TV users average just 69 minutes.
Top Gear continues to be the most popular show with episode 3 of the most recent series getting 1.273m requests. This was the episode that clashed with the World Cup Final…
I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue is the most popular radio programme with three episodes filling up the top three places each getting about 100,000 plays. I’m always surprised how many people listen to Chris Moyles on the iPlayer, since it’s surely a show you need to listen to live? Yet it fills half the top 20 places.
The other notable radio performer was the World Cup quarterfinal between the Netherlands and Brazil. Because it took place in the afternoon, 69,000 people heard it streaming online.
There’s plenty more to look at in the report.
Deloitte has commissioned another report into TV to accompany the Mediaguardian Edinburgh Television Festival. Perspectives on Television in Words and Numbers is well worth a read as there’s lots to digest.
The headlines from this research centered around the fact that 86% of viewers watching pre-recorded programmes on PVRs always skip through the ads. Interestingly, this made the press release, but not the final report.
Instead the report digs deeper into how people used and trusted different media during the election, with television easily winning out. As other reports have also made clear, we’ve not yet really had our “internet” election.
The report goes into greater detail about television on demand, with a growing number of respondents claiming that this is important – significantly so amongst 18-24 year olds, the majority of whom consider this important. (As an aside, why does Sky still consider giving me access to the Sky Player an extra I should consider myself lucky to have? For the last couple of summers they’ve provided access to Sky Sports, for which I pay a subscription. And now I should consider myself fortunate to have it until the end year.)
The report shows that relatively few people are using their laptops, netbooks or smartphones to comment contemporaneously with live broadcasts of TV shows. Yet, this is surely only going to rise. Using Twitter or Facebook to comment on live shows like the X-Factor only makes them more unmissable to those who like those shows (In the case of X Factor, that absolutely does not include me. Indeed, I’m thankful that Tweetdeck has a filter option that lets users remove Tweets with certain keywords).
While the TV advertising is demonstrated has having the most impact, it’s got to be worrying that as PVR ownership increases, fewer of those ads are going to be seen. Which brings us onto…
Product placement! While this is something of a step into the unknown for UK broadcasters, we’re familiar with the very obvious branding in films (what action film doesn’t partner with a mobile handset provider these days?) and imported TV like 24’s Cisco kit and American Idol’s blurred Coke glasses. The report quotes some American research that suggests recall can increase by 20% through product placement.
The BPI announced that music revenues were up 2.3% in 2009. That’s right up! The BPI puts this increase down to innovation in the digital world and finding new revenue streams.
If you look at the full release, you’ll see that although the overall revenue from Trade Income has increased by 1.4%, it’s secondary revenues that have increased the most at 6.6%. Of that secondary revenues, “more than a third” of it comes from broadcasting and performance revenues (PPL announced pretty decent results earlier in the year).
While the development of new revenue streams is to be admired, it’s interesting that even in these tougher times, revenues continue to rise in the music industry.
Finally, there’s the big one. Ofcom’s annual Communication Market Report. Weighing in at well over 350 pages, it’s a canter through all areas of the media. I’ll just pull a few points from the radio section and highlight them here.
Ofcom noted that while commercial radio’s revenues have fallen 22% over the last five years, BBC Radio expenditure has risen by 26%. And despite the overall number of listeners increasing over the last five years reaching an all time high, the amount of time spent listening has diminished with commercial radio being especially badly hit over the last five years.
Those numbers would suggest that during a period when radio revenues decreased, perhaps less was invested in programming with a resultant fall in listening. I think it’s arguable that radio is investing more in programming now – albeit not necessarily at a local level.
It’s worth noting that in reporting podcast listening based on MIDAS results, Ofcom hasn’t taken into account methodological changes in the most recent MIDAS survey. This results in a dip in podcast listening if you look at the numbers Ofcom shows in their chart (Fig 3.4 on p193). You only have to look at the reported podcast listening numbers from stations like Absolute Radio and the BBC to see that this isn’t the case.
Fig 3.5 in the Ofcom report shows that 16-24s remain an audience for radio to be concerned about, with only 32% of listening time spent on live radio in this age group compared with 69% for all adults (Source: Ofcom research, June 2010).
Fig 3.36 (P223) is worth noting. It highlights just how well commercial radio does in Scotland, whereas BBC Local/National radio in Northern Ireland is especially strong.
While 66% of people have now heard of DAB, only 17% of people said that they intended to buy one in the next 12 months. It’s going to take a few more cheaper radios (like the announcement of a new sub-£40 Pure radio yesterday) to actually get them to commit though.
Satisfaction is amazingly high – both with the choice of stations, and what’s carried on them. 93% of people are satisfied with thier station selection and 94% are satisfied with what’s carried on them.
There’s a lot in here, even if much of it has previously been reported. It’s definitely worth a browse.

Social Networking Statistics Reporting

Photowalk (9 of 12)
A couple of weeks ago Ofcom published its annual Communications Market Report which nicely distils lots of UK media research into one place (albeit a 334 page “place”).
The report noted that social networking is “growing more slowly than previously.” This isn’t perhaps all that surprising since at some point services like Facebook run out of new sign-ups.
But the piece of research that really caused some ructions was that summarised as follows:
Social networking is also maturing – literally. Use grew fastest among 35-54s – up by eight percentage points since Q1 2008 to 35%. Among 25-34 year olds use grew by six percentage points to 46% but it actually fell slightly among 15-24s – by five percentage points to 50%.
This couldn’t be true could it?
Fewer 15-24s are using social networking than previously?
Then there was that widely quoted “research note” written by a 15-year old Morgan Stanley intern (Seemingly, nobody at Morgan Stanley had previously bothered speaking to their teenage sons and daughter to find out how they were using social media). That report said that 15 year olds didn’t use Twitter. That might be true for that particular teenager, and it’s certainly true that Twitter appeals to older people, but taking one person’s experience at face value is always dangerous.
Well let’s have a look at some of that Ofcom report in a little more detail.
First of all, while the Ofcom report does indeed show a drop between Q1 2008 and Q1 2009, the 15-24 age group has the highest penetration of any age group.
Over the same period, the 25-34 age group has leapt from 40% to 46%, while amongst 35-44s the jump is even more marked going from 28% to 35%.
But the question remains: are the underlying figures accurate?
The source of the data is Ofcom’s Technology Tracker. Unfortunately, full results from this research don’t seem to be available, and although the source gives the sample size at around 6000 per sweep for Q1 2008 and Q1 2009 (it’s significantly lower at a mid-point sample taken in Q3 2008), we don’t know how many are 15-24s.
Supposing that the sample is split relatively evenly in line with population, there should be no doubt that the figures are accurate and the margin of error should be minimal.
The jumps around and changes in levels suggest something a little broader – perhaps people’s defninitions of a “social networking site” are changing, as well as their behaviour.
Interestingly, Comscore came out and pretty much refuted Ofcom’s findings in a press release that highlighted continued growth in the sector between June 2009 and June 2009 amongst 15-24 year olds. Facebook again shows excellent growth.
Now ComScore certainly employs a very different methodology to derive its figures to those of Ofcom. Some have poo-pooed Ofcom’s numbers because they’re based on information from as long ago as Q1 2009. That’s an eon in social networking terms! But I’m not inclined to agree. Yes more up to date data is always preferable, but this is only a few months old, and it’s not enough to have made a difference, except perhaps, to Twitter.
On a broader level, it seems clear that different age groups use social media very differently. Conventional wisdom doesn’t regard instant messaging as a “social media site” and very few 15-24s would probably regard it as so. Yet it’s vastly popular in this age group (TGI suggests that 45% of all instant messager users are in this demo, and I suspect that account for the vast majority of the messaging), and it’s certainly “social.”
The younger you are, the more your “social network” revolves around people you see very regularly: at school, college or socially. But even then, you still use these sites a lot.
Then you get older and lose touch with some people – you might find them again via Facebook, or stay in touch professionally via LinkedIn.
Much of the debate seems to be focused around how Twitter is slightly older (not that old if you’re a 62 year-old, former reality TV contestant and newspaper columnist). That’s because it’s something more than just that status update bit of Facebook. Yes – you stay in touch with friends via it, but you probably also have a wider selection of people you follow who are feeding you stuff that interests you.
It can take some time to learn this, which is probably why so many Tweets are babble. Of course one person’s “babble” is another person’s interesting bit of information.
And once you understand how Twitter works best, you don’t just subscribe to anybody’s Twitter stream. I’m only likely to subscribe to people I’m interested in, and those who have interesting things to say (in my eyes at least). So the signal to noise ratio is much better for me.
Indeed one clear element in the “babble” research by Pear Analytics is missing: we don’t know how many people followed the tweets that were sent. The research considered 2000 tweets pulled from the public timeline. How many followers those tweets had was not considered.
Somebody who just tells the world at large what they had for breakfast probably isn’t going to get a large number of followers outside their close circle of friends and family. Indeed, if you only participate to that level, you’re likely to find Twitter unappetising and become part of that other oft-quoted stat – the number of people who leave nearly as quickly as they join Twitter (or plenty of other social networking sites).
The tweets of more interesting opinion formers are seen by vastly more people. And they probably value those messages a great deal more. Put simply, one tweet by Joe Bloggs is not equal to one tweet by Stephen Fry. Not all tweets are alike*.
You can see the whole paper here, although as I say, I believe it’s flawed in its conception.
I’m not sure what my conclusion overall here is, except that you should always be a little distrustful of statistics unless you’re able to look at the full picture.
* In fact, Pear Analytics did understand this, and referred to a Gizmodo blog post and accompanying visualisation that noted that 75% of tweets come from 5% of the Twitter community. But they just didn’t actually make use of this information in their own research.

4.7bn Watched The Olympics?

Neilsen Media Research – a fine media research company who I have contracts with via my employer – has released details of a story suggesting that 4.7bn people watched at least some of the Olympic coverage last month. That’s out of a rough estimate of 6.6bn for the planet’s population.
I’m always deeply suspicious of stories like that unless you have some really strong material to back it up.
As ever, there’s no obvious detail on their website.
Let’s try to break down the data a little. In China, the most populous nation on earth, we’re told that 94% of their 1.4bn people watched at least some. That’s high, but not unfeasible since these Olympics were in China, and the state TV company pretty much carried nothing but Olympics for the duration. If you watched TV in China, then you watched the Olympics. Perhaps that missing 6% don’t actually own or even have access to a TV?
The next most populous country in the world is India with around 1.1bn living there. But the Olympics are not popular in that country, and it seems unlikely that even with India achieving its first ever individual gold, that the Olympics will have had strong viewing figures.
The next biggest countries are the US, which had strong viewership, and Indonesia.
Viewing was said to be strong in South Korea and Mexico. But how many of Pakistan’s 165m or Bangladesh’s 147m were watching?
The population of the entire African continent is just under 1bn. What proportion were watching the Olympics?
I’m always suspicious when global audiences are guestimated – 1bn for a domestic football cup, 1bn for a sport not widely played outside North America, etc. So I’d just like to see some detail to determine how these figures were derived. Apparently 37 markets were used. But which 37, and more importantly, which countries with large populations were excluded?

Musical Tastes and Personality

A friend of mine pointed me towards this story based on some research that suggests that your musical tastes are linked to your personality.
I think she took exception to the idea that “heavy metal fans are gentle.”
Obviously, making broad genearlisations like that is nonsense, but I wanted to learn a little more about this survey. It could prove very interesting with commercial aspects for radio stations surely?
A bit of Googling revealed this BBC story on the research, conducted by Prof. Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University. Prof. North is a highly published academic, who I believe has worked with Capital Radio in the past. And it would be terribly unfair to ridicule research that I’ve not seen the full findings for.
But then the BBC story states that the research is still ongoing (so I suppose that means no published findings, I certainly haven’t turned any up), and says that they’re still looking for more participants. Helpfully, the BBC provides a link to the research survey –
Well I had to have a look at this survey. I should note that it does randomise the order of the questions, and I didn’t actually complete the questionnaire, but I reloaded it a few times to see a large selection of the questions (it’s not as short as the BBC report claims), and I do have a few questions about some of the things it asked me.
It wanted to know the ages of my parents (or how old they were when they died if they were no longer alive) and the age of my best friend. I can’t quite work out what that could be used for in the nature of a music research survey. While I don’t doubt that my parents might have had an influence on my musical tastes, knowing my current age and the age that my parents died wouldn’t be especially helpful. E.g. My dad might have died aged 30 yet I might be 35 today.
The questionnaire asked me if I was bi-, hetero- or homosexual. How is that musically relevant? Will that define whether or not I like Erasure?
Another question asks me to what extent I agree or disagree with the following:
a. Music is very important in my life
b. Music can arouse feelings of thrills and excitement in me.
c. It’s really important that I am able to share thrilling, intense and stimulating experiences with my partner.
d. I often get bored with my partner.
Huh? What have the last two got to do with anything?
More questions ask me about whether or not I’m in a romatic relationship, who ended my last relationship and why it ended (If she cheated on me, does that make me more likely to enjoy country music?). How happy am I in my current relationship, and how long I’ve been in that relationship.
Now I’m not a psychologist, and I’ve never studied the subject, but it feels to me that this questionnaire is trying to look at more than just my personality traits in relation to the music I like. There are plenty of questions about music that I’ve not ntoed here, but I’ve got to wonder what the ultimate aim of this research is. I don’t think the press story that’s out there is the whole thing.
Self-selected samples – i.e. you’ve made the decision to go to this site and fill out an online survey – aren’t great. And without seeing details of the findings, I can’t really be certain whether Prof. North’s results really are “significant” as he claims in the BBC piece.