Nick Grimshaw’s Q1/2013 RAJAR Performance

I feel bad writing this one. It’s fundamentally unfair to judge a brand new breakfast show, especially one that followed a renowned programme, after just two quarters on the air. That won’t, of course, stop the papers who no doubt will be saying there’s a ‘crisis’ at Radio 1.

There won’t be of course. You don’t re-position a network without some collateral damage. So, what’s happening?

Top line is this:

Q1 2012 Q4 2012 Q1 2013
Adults 15+ Reach (000’s)            7,103            6,691            5,784
Hours (000’s)          25,071          19,573          16,916
Market Share %              10.1                 8.2                 7.1

That’s a year-on-year decline of 1.3m listeners (18.6%) and a quarter-on-quarter drop of 907k (13.6%).

Year-on-years hours have faired worse – down 32.5%. This isn’t really a surprise though. Moyles listeners were older and more passionate – he was the longest serving Radio 1 breakfast presenter after all – that means they’re going to listen longer. You churn them out and it’ll have this sort of effect.

So, who’s gone?

Well, the biggest chunks are the olds! Year-on-year 767k of 35 pluses have disappeared. This is particularly concentrated with the 35s to 55s – this is the group that have loads of commercial and BBC choice. 55 pluses are only down a little. This is one of the problems that Radio 1 faces – these lot are really not going anywhere – these are the ones that keep dragging Radio 1’s average age older.

Of more interest are the 15 to 34s.

In this group the 25 to 35s have taken a significant hit. This was, of course still part of the plan – be younger by getting this lot to disappear too. Year-on-year, the market share in this group has dropped from 25.7% to 17.4%. 300k have disappeared.

There is a smaller decline with the core audience – 15 to 24s. 247k y-o-y (down 11.9%) and  198k q-on-q (9.7%). This is clearly a worry, as that’s the audience they would want the show to attract. But, to be honest, it’s part of the sort of decline you would expect with a new breakfast launch.

Programming-wise, I don’t think this quarter was particularly strong. Personally, I thought the music was all over the place – way to heavy – and the content didn’t really hit the mark.  I think the issue they face is that the stuff that sends away older audiences can also send away the younger ones too.

This quarter’s already much more focused and relevant. The Big Weekend lets them be more poppy and younger – you can hear that with the music and last week’s school tour. The return of Call or Delete allows there to be much more mainstream content in the 8 o’clock hour.

Fundamentally Nick Grimshaw is a good, funny presenter. He does a great job of being target.

However, I think structurally and team-wise they have a significant way to go. I know it sounds like a formatted commercial-radio observation, but whole teams need to be ‘cast’. They need jobs to do, they need to take on a position. How are Matt/Laura/Ian different? They definitely have the potential to be an integral part of the show, but great breakfast shows have well defined characters.

I’d also hope that they were really leaning on music research of 15 to 24s for song choices. I’m not expecting ‘pop’ or ‘hits’ but artist and song choice needs to resonate completely with that audience. With a team of late 20s/early 30s working on it – are they absolutely sure their free plays or records of the week work for the target? It still feels a little too indie when looking at the currents.

Overall though, and this will annoy the haters, the general show strategy has been the right one – they’ve skipped a generation with the host and done things to get rid of the olds. Re-focusing breakfast was essential to stop the whole station drifting older.

So, how has this affected the station as a whole. The chart below shows market share for each of the demos.

Q1 2012 Q4 2012 Q1 2013
Adults 15-24           21.5           20.4           20.2
Adults 25-34           19.4           18.4           15.7
Adults 35-44           10.8             9.7             7.9
Adults 45-54             5.1             4.1             4.3
Adults 55-64             1.3             1.8             1.6
Adults 65+             1.1             0.8             0.7

The 25 to 44s are definitely getting the message and moving away. The market share for these demos has seen rapid decline. Grimshaw at Breakfast and Scott’s move to a different daypart has unsettled many older listeners.

R1 still faces significant trouble with 55+ – they just don’t want to go.

This is where I feel for Ben Cooper and his directive from the Trust to ‘go younger’ – he is clearly doing the things to achieve this, but those 55+ wedded to Radio 1 cannot be shifted and their average hours are still good – keeping the station’s average age up.

15 to 24s have seen a little bit of share decline across the station as a whole. I don’t think this is particularly anything to worry about. But they clearly still need to keep focused on attracting this audience. The research I’d be looking at is whether these station-wide changes have been communicated to non-listeners.

Overall – R1 are carrying out a disruptive, risky strategy. But it’s the right one to achieve their aims. The challenge now is to quickly evolve the breakfast show to make sure it’s firing on all cylinders – and communicate that to the non-listeners.

Over here – some more RAJAR Q1/2013 facts.

14 thoughts on “Nick Grimshaw’s Q1/2013 RAJAR Performance”

  1. I just don’t get why they need to ‘go younger’ the population is aging, and to try to appeal to folks who then beceom loyal but then age to be out of the demographoc so then you want to not appeal to them is crazy, especially as they are trying to appeal to many folks who don’t pay for the licence fee in the first place! Who can explain the logic to me of the trusts directive?

  2. BBC Radios 2, 3, 4 and 6 all target older age groups and the vast majority of commercial radio targets 25 to 44s. It’s right that Radio 1 caters for a specific audience.

  3. I agree with you, Matt. As always.

    The sooner every station realises they basically just need to ask you what to do, the better.

    (this is my thought process on almost every blog post of yours I read)

  4. You have failed to say that nick Grimshaw has worse ratings than sara Cox when she was on breakfast and possibly zoe as well.

    Ben Cooper did not see the massive turnout from the 18 – 30’s who turned up to see chris moyles live tour last November. That number outweighed the 30 + who attended.

    Why don’t you ask many 15 – 30 year olds who listened to tcms, and see if they are listening now. Well you have stated in your piece that 250,000 people in the target demo have switched off. A major Fail in my eyes.

    I am in the target demo. Do not want 1 direction, Justin (spit his dummy out) bieber and monotone drivel about grimshaws gay lovin with harry styles. I want informative witty banter and good music to ease my way into the day, something that the mornings had with chris moyles.

    Ben cooper maybe taking a risk. He maybe losing the right audience, But he is also losing the right audience.

  5. Interesting post, and I agree that the content of programming for this quarter hasn’t been brilliant, and that targeting a much younger audience to get rid of the older ones is also alienating many young listeners who are in their target age group (me included).

    Also, in terms of breakfast, better defined roles is needed, and I would prefer a more team style show myself. Like you say, Ian, Matt and Fiona (do you mean Fiona btw as Laura is Greg’s producer?) aren’t being used properly, and definitely could be a more integral part of the show, especially comparing to the well defined characters of Moyles’s show.

  6. I think a lot of their audience loss is due to the music they play rather than the presenter they choose. Since Chris Moyles has gone there has definitely been a shift away from traditional pop and dance to a more rock sounding station – people in the age group they are chasing don’t want that – trust me I am one of them. Happy pop songs that make us want to dance please not miserable rock songs – whilst it is obvious that Radio 1 should play music from across the spectrum the balance was much better before – at the end of the day young people are not always looking for alternative music – I find it patronising and annoying that older programmers assume that – my friends and I don’t want to force fed songs by artists like alt-j and paramore that you can’t remember or sing back. It’s fine to hear them occasionally but Radio 1 seems to be all about that now and despite being a listener as long as I can remember I am losing patience

  7. Thanks for the really fascinating analysis. I’m not a radio-native so there’s a lot to take in. However, I’ve got a curiosity question:

    I don’t understand your analysis that the shedding of 25-34 is necessarily a good thing. I totally agree with the maxim that the station must go younger, like you I see it as an ultimate, president priority.

    Personally it seems that the fetishising of youth is ultimately marginalising swathes of the audience it so seeks. As 15-24 share qualitative similarities to 25-34.

    Were the figures indicative of an increase in these generations, or even a slowing down on an exodus amongst these generation then I’d accept that Grimshaw and team should be unmoved by these figures. But instead he’s lost an additional 49k 15-24’s on top of the exodus.

    I can’t see past the idea that Grimshaw has brought nothing to the table except a youthful quiff – which I should not be under-appreciated, for both the brand and it’s own geometry.

  8. Great analysis as always Matt.

    When he was appointed I could see what Radio 1 were trying to do with Grimshaw. He’s the total opposite to Moyles and drew a clear line in the sand, in a way that hiring Scott Mills would not have done. Clearly their decision involves a lot of pain and this will be reflected in the press – although I doubt Ben Cooper will be derided as much as Matthew Bannister was.

    The BBC’s problem is the obsession they have with the age-driven remits the networks have. I’m 41 next week and find myself listening to Radio 1 and Radio 2 and I’m not alone. There are plenty of 18 and 19 year old’s doing the same, for the same reasons. There is a strong case for sociographic – rather than demographic- formatting. However, I can’t see the BBC backing that pony. So, we’re left trying to make Radio 1 younger and Radio 2 older.

    I also don’t think this is just about age. The Moyles show was very much about HIM, the Grimshaw show does put the radio station first a lot more. The music is key and he falls in behind it. So, it’s a very different listen and for that reason I can’t this being a quick fix. It’s a card game and Radio 1 need to hold their nerve and hope they’ve got the hand they think they have.

  9. There’s nothing wrong with the DJs it’s the playlist team who need to sort themselves out. I’d listen if they didn’t have the same songs on repeat all day. they also need to stop stereotyping young listeners, we don’t all like little mix and one direction

  10. I agree , thou at 32 I’m not target, that the team needs definition . It was said when Grimmy started that it would just be him but that seems to have gone out the window with at least one other voice heard each link .

  11. Shaking-off the oldies isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    Today’s pensioners aren’t all sitting around with tartan rugs on their knees. They’re children of the 60s, often cash and time rich, and open-minded.

    This morning in Soho I was almost knocked off the pavement by a grey-haired 60-something on a kid’s scooter and wearing a hoodie. No wonder Radio 1 appeals to some of them.

    The old folk are beyond control so average age is, therefore, a strange basis on which to judge success for that station.

    Impact and relevance among 16-24s are far better measures. Anyone else who comes along for the ride is a welcome bystander but not a liability.

  12. The issue is Nick Grimshaw, a lot of people in the target audience like me just find him annoying and his voice grating. That’s why I stopped listening.

  13. I totally disagree with you on the “good presenter” from Matt. The problem is that Grimmy has come from a night-time slot and not traditionally from another area of day-time. Big risk from Ben Cooper and obviously not paying off as Nick didn’t really establish a day-time audience. At the same time, the PR has been truly awful. To try impose this “non-zoo format” and then slowly break it down is confusing for the audience.

    There’s no identity and honestly, R1 is risking losing it’s own by being ageist. Typical BBC fashion. The BBC Trust failed to grasp that the breakfast show is a sensitive beast. Chris was more than capable of holding a “family orientated” breakfast show that lured the younger audience from older parents. It was cool for everyone to listen to Radio 1 if the parents wished to enjoy pop music of today rather than 5+ years ago on Radio 2.

    Personally, I’d love to be back listening to R1. I’m 26 and stuck in the middle of two stations. Radio 6 is too specialist to fill the gap as I still enjoy the night-time on R1 and allowing it to breed with the day-time music selections. Music policy on the breakfast show currently is poor and forcing too much on “expectations to be cool” with young people. Young people aren’t all stupid and like sheeps. With the era of iPods/Smartphones, Chris’ experience to keep audiences away from them was powerful. Shame Chris doesn’t have a more mentoring role in the Radio 1 landscape. It’s his speciality to do Top 40/CHR.

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