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Industry Research


Universal McCann’s Rajar Review. Q4 2007

Universal McCann’s Rajar Review. Q4 2007

BBC steals the show

Overall radio listening remains strong with 44.9m people, that’s 89% of the UK population tuning in every week.

The BBC / Commercial spilt increases further with the BBC increasing share by 0.7% taking a 55.4% share vs. commercial’s 42.4%.  Commercial radio listening remains strong in the 15-44 age bracket taking a 53.1% share vs. the BBC despite the BBC actually increasing this share from last quarter.

The success story for the BBC was Radio 5 Live and Radio 1.  Five Live increased hours and reach, listenership is up 10.8% quarter-on-quarter reaching nearly 6.1m listeners each week. Undoubtedly the dramatic Rugby World cup was a contributing factor.  BBC

Radio 1 also saw reach go up 1.1% now entertaining nearly 10.7m listeners each week but did see audience dip in London. Moyles at breakfast is now only half a million listeners behind the mighty Wogan, Molyes audinece now reaches 7.31m listeners every week.

On the other side of the fence however, total commercial national listening took a big hit with share down 4% and commercial local listening also down 2%.

All but 4 of the main commercial radio networks saw decline in reach and hours with the exception of Total Heart, Total Smooth, talkSPORT and Virgin who all saw gains in audience reach this quarter.

Virgin’s audience remains strong, up 0.7% now reaching 2.5m and the new Smooth Network saw gains, up 0.9% reaching 2.2m listeners every week.  talkSPORT also had a very sucessful result, audience up 6.1% in reach and 13,2% in hours.

The Kiss and Galaxy networks saw audiences decline in both reach and hours, Kiss down 2.5% and Galaxy down 3.6%.

Total Magic also saw listeners tuning out and listening less with reach down 2.3% and hours down 5.7%.  The XFM network had a tough time with audience down 5% now reaching 1.1m nationwide and hours also down 12.5%.

Finally looking at the older demographics, Classic FM lost 253,000 listeners, down 4.3% on last quarter and the newly branded GOLD has had an extremely dissapointing result.

UM Opinion.

The lastest RAJAR results reinforce the fact that radio listening is still as strong as ever with 89% of the population tuning in each week.

Commercial radio however, has felt the pressure this quarter. The key groups have lost further market share to the BBC and have displayed some dissapointing results.  No doubt consolidation and acquisition talks steering many to take their eye off the ball with GCap and Emap both losing about 3% of their overall hours. 

All in all this is not a great result for the Commercial Radio industry, the only positive being the considerable growth in revenues we saw across the same quarter, for this to continue however, the industry needs to take action.

Heart “feel good” to be back at No. 1

Heart has broken Magic’s stint at No.1 commercial radio in London.  The “feel good” music station hold onto their 6.2% share and despite having 127,000 listeners less than Magic, they pip them at the post to take first place.  Magic slips down to take a 6.1% share, reaching 2m listeners each week.

Capital clings on to the no. 3 slot with a 4.7% share despite shedding nearly 200,000 listeners from last quarter, now only reaching 1.5m in London.  Kiss remain in 4th place reaching 1.4m, this is down 10.2% on last quarter.

Elsewhere in London, LBC has had a fantastic result with reach up 9.6% and hours up a massive 20.8%.  Virgin sees big gains with reach up 14.9% and hours up 1.1%.

In the GCap stable, other London stations also had a tough time with Choice down 20.6% in reach and 14.6% in hours quarter on quarter.  XFM is down 7.9% in reach but hours were up 8.7% and finally Gold in London was down a staggering 43% in reach, now reaching only 243,000 listeners each week and it lost over half of all its hours.

At breakfast Heart’s Jamie Theakston took back the crown for the most listened to breakfast show.  Heart saw considerable growth with Jamie and Harriet’s show reaching 915k Londoners every week.

Capital's Johnny Vaughan was in second place with 864,000 listeners between 6am and 9am, down 16,000 on the previous quarter. Magic's Neil Fox, was knocked off the top slot form last quarter and slipped to third place after his audience fell by 74,000 to 811,000 listeners.

Elsewhere at breakfast, Christian O’Connell is up, adding an extra 37,000 listeners at breakfast to reach 604,000 in London and 1.2m nationally.  Kiss’s Ricky and Melvin’s audience falls by 27% and Alex Zane on XFM also loses 11% of listeners from last quarter.

UM opinion.

The turbulent London market remains relatively static this quarter with no real surprises. Heart and Magic both share the top spot retaining a strong and loyal audience but battling it out in the reach vs. hours stakes.  Positive stories can be said for LBC, Virgin and Smooth in London who all seem to be carving out their niche.

The latest figures will not help GCap’s woes, with Flagship Capital Radio and XFM loosing further reach despite staying relatively flat in hours in London.  The real blow will be the disastrous results for Choice and the newly re-branded Gold which has lost half its audience this quarter.  The pressure is now on for GCap to deliver results and revenue to shareholders while Global continues to push on with their take over bid.

Online radio gives digital a well needed boost

Digital radio listening now reaches 29.9% of the UK population every week and 16.6% of all listening is now via a digital platform. This is up from 15% from the last quarter.

Digital listening hours are also up 10% to 169million hours per week.  According to the lastest platform data, 9.9% of all radio listening is via DAB (vs.8.6% last quarter), 3.1% via DTV (vs. 3% last quarter) and 1.9% via the Internet (vs.1.6% in last quarter).

Within the BBC stable Digital has had a great result, with all three key digital only channels showing growth, BBC1xtra up as much as 7.6% in reach and 12% in hours.  Elsewhere commercial digital radio paints a different picture with growth amoung many core digital only stations slowing.

Stations like Core, Heat, the Hits, Life, Q, Smash Hits and Virgin Xtreme all lost audience.  Positive growth came from Planet Rock, Chill, Virgin Groove and Oneword, the later two no longer broadcasting which ends the sad tale.

On Monday RAJAR also reported new figures into how people are tuning into radio via the Internet and Podcasts.  The results revealed that 8.1m people are tuning into radio live or via listen again facilities online with the average user listening to 1.88 programmes each week.  75% of users do not listen to less live radio as a result of listen again and 50% actually tune into new shows as a result.

4.3m people have downloaded a podcast and 1.87m listen to a podcast each week.  Podcasting also seems to have a positive effect on live radio listening with 18% saying that they listen to more radio since downloading podcasts and 31% saying they are listening to new radio programmes as a result.

58 per cent of respondents said that they would be interested in downloading podcasts containing advertising if they were free, while only 28 per cent said they consider downloading those with ads that had to be paid for.

UM Opinion

Digital radio is entering its next and most crucial phase.  Radio broadcasters are under huge pressure, to deliver better content, be assessable across all platforms and to fund high costs of running both digital and analogue broadcasts.

We’ve already seen several stations pulled from the air and no doubt there will be many more to follow.  In order for digital to succeed, the industry must sharpen up and act fast.

Broadcasters need to deliver appealing content to the consumer – away from what they already receive from Analogue radio.

Taking full advantage of all that DAB can offer i.e. mobile, downloads, EPG, radio-on-demand and getting DAB in car will be key to driving this forward.  Monday’s results also demonstrate the power of broadcasting online in aiding radio growth and maximising potential to grow revenue here will be vital.



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