Arguing with Phil Riley

I’ve just been having a Twitter argument with Phil Riley – as you do – about digital radio stuff. Don’t worry, it was a pleasant one.

One of the things we were talking about was FM reach – he thought it was an important number as regards to switchover. Me, not so much. The problem is that you only have to listen to FM for five minutes in one week and it’ll appear on the FM reach tally. I think even post the switchover, with the majority of radio stations off the platform, that FM Reach will probably still be significant – though it won’t be generating many hours (ie the volume of listening).

And that’s the thing – you have to look at hours to see how much listening is on the various platforms. A big issue with ‘digital’ is that people are gradually replacing their listening locations with digital listening devices (DAB, DTV and the internet) – you don’t change everything straight away. This is quite different to digital TV – where you have a primary set where you consume most of your television. The number of radio sets that people listen on means  digital reach is around 50% and digital hours are around 30%.

I thought it might be interesting to look at digital listeners specifically and see how much of their listening is to analogue and how much is to digital.

Looking across the UK at people who listen to ‘digital radio’ at some point during a week – 53% of their hours are given to digital radio.

In London it’s 57% of their hours given to digital radio.

Therefore if you’re an analogue-only radio station, it’s not good news. The availability of people to listen you is dropping.

If you’re a station that simulcasts, your at least in both places, but in the digital world you’re facing more competition for hours – ie you need to work harder to remain in the same place.

If you’re a station that simulcasts, but to a bigger area – then you get the best of both worlds. You remain a player in you market and you’re taking the fight to others to grow your hours.

And if you’re simulcasting and have an extra product (see Absolute/BBC or even Global/Bauer) – then again, you’re in a position to grow your hours and build your business.

Update: Phil’s responded on his (new!) blog.

One thought on “Arguing with Phil Riley”

  1. I’m not convinced that stations have to be on digital platforms to survive. Surely listeners are choosing stations rather than platforms. If your favourite station is only on FM, that’s where you’ll listen to it. The fact that more than half of radio listening is now via digital platforms doesn’t prove FM is dead. There’s simply more choice via digital platforms, and many of those stations aren’t available on FM.

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