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Jimmy

I try and generally be positive, or if not at least constructive with these blogs. The last post just about does that, though I updated it for the Radio Today Australia version with a few things from Australian social media that I liked.

I’m a big fan of examples, so when I saw this from Jimmy Fallon (the new host of the Tonight show on NBC) rather than try and squeeze it into a tweet, I though I’d post it here.

The video is part of an occasional series Jimmy does where he answers viewers questions.

What I like about this is it’s very lo-fi, very honest, not showbiz at all. He’s answering honestly and isn’t trying to be ‘up’ or showbiz. I think he builds a better relationship with the audience by coming across as a real person, sharing his answers with his friends watching.

It’s amazing that today when we regard ‘being real’ as a core radio presenter quality – we so rarely truly deliver it, let alone on other platforms. Let’s be a bit more like Jimmy.

Social for Radio is Not About the Big Number

Like

I guess these things come in waves.

The biggest issue ‘media professionals’ (for want of a better name) have with social media is that they’re obsessed with the big number.

It started off with the Facebook Page Like number or the Twitter number of followers. On the radio it was plug, plug, plug whilst someone in the studio hit refresh. Make it go higher, make it go higher they wished.

Eventually people realised that it wasn’t all about the big number after all. It was about ‘engagement’ – yeah man, what’s your Retweet to Follower ratio? Favourites are the new RT don’t you know? Engagement is more important, but a lot of the stuff around it is bullshit.

The same issue with that original ‘big number’ now plagues how people measure engagement. The volume of Likes, RTs or shares mean very little on its own.

What you should be measuring is the action generated by engagement. 

The Australian radio groups are now press-releasing engagement numbers like it’s the latest RAJAR sweep such as ARN have unexpected response to social post and Mix Facebook Post Reaches 20million.

The Mix story is that someone at the station found a meme that had been circling for god knows how long and then pasted it, with an intro, on a station’s fanpage. It became viral. Great. But what does it actually mean for the station?

Well, on the positive side, lots of people will have seen the station name and logo. However the vast majority of these would have been outside of the TSA. The Page’s name is one of the world’s most generically named radio stations and there’s a frequency but not location. In the text there’s no reference to what show it is, or where it is etc. There’s no link to the station’s website. There is a call to action to encourage comments, which is okay, I suppose.

But what does it do for the station? Does it help its positioning? No. Does it help someone tune in for the first time? No. Does it re-affirm any brand values? No. Did the station re-create the image in a better way and add some branding on? No. Did they include a next action on station-owned media? No.

They cut and paste an image onto a page that had a decent amount of traffic and then they were lucky.

I would be embarrassed that this got 20million because it does nothing whatsoever for the station.

It’s mean to just pick on them. Lots of radio stations around the world are obsessed with posting these memes because they get numbers they can be excited about. They are the only ones that care.

Radio stations’ fanpages that are full of memes are just lazy. They’re often unrelated to the station’s brand and positioning and they get in the way of content that pushes people to listen to the station or engage in places where stations can derive value. They also stop you doing the hard thing of making and promoting decent original content that actually engages with listeners.

People who click LIKE on your Fanpage or FOLLOW on Twitter are your superfans. They are your P1s. They love you. They want to hear from you. That’s you, the radio station, not you the meme-monkey.

There will be some followers who like the page because of the memes. THESE ARE THE WORST PEOPLE TO HAVE. They don’t care about your radio station, they only like the cats!

These real P1s should be pampered. 20% of your audience probably provide 65% or more of your hours. They should be worshipped! You should find ways to reflect your output even more! By clicking like or follow they’ve already told you they’re hungry for it. Where’s that video clip from the actually hilarious bit of the breakfast show, where’s the extra clue to the contest, where’s the pic of that embarrassing situation their favourite presenter got into?

If you sacrifice these things for merely viral posts, you’re mad. The only value you’re building is that for Mr Zuckerberg. 20million views – means a couple of hundred million ad impressions for him. Well done. No wonder he can afford WhatsApp.

What the success of the viral memes should tell you is that at your station you have the tools necessary to make something go viral. That’s a brilliant thing to have. Why don’t you then make some content that is connected to your brand’s values, helps position you, as well as is fun, or silly, or racy, or whatever. Of course it’s harder to do than pressing CTRL-C and CTRL-V, but at least it will be worth something.

To me, good Facebook pages, or Twitter feeds are places that combine a number of things together that help show you to be a rounded person (or brand).

In Facebook, it’s the combination of links, statuses, images, videos, content, promotion and hey, even the occasional meme – it’s something that shows your brand is real, accessible and worthy of being part of someone’s life. Indeed, worthy enough to be within a newsfeed that’s mainly what their ACTUAL friends are posting.

And at your station? Please never get obsessed with the big number. It doesn’t really mean anything.

Communicorp Acquires Global’s Disposals

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It’s finally been announced. Global Radio has disposed of the stations it had to, to Ireland’s Communicorp.

When Global Radio acquired GMG Radio, unexpectedly for them, the Competition Commission decided that it would give them too much control of the local advertising market (they were fine about audience share and national revenue control). They then set them quite strict rules about what they would have to let go. This somewhat got in the way of Global’s desire to grow their Heart network as the disposals would likely cut across different brands.

However, the deal they’ve done with Ireland’s Communicorp is nearly perfect for Global. It was also a brilliantly well kept secret – no one that I talked to knew anything about it. Truly amazing and not something that tends to happen nowadays.

What the deal really means is that Global gets to re-imagine UK commercial radio along their own lines.

Capital

All the existing Capitals remain. However, Capital South Wales and Capital Scotland will be owned by Communicorp.

In addition a new Capital appears – Capital North Wales (owned by Global). They can do this because the frequencies that Heart in North Wales are on, are the old Marcher frequencies that used to be ILR radio stations. The formats of these are quite broad and so could easily ‘host’ either a Capital or Heart brand. Heart will leave these frequencies and re-appear on the current Real North wales frequencies replacing that brand.

Global will provide the Capital brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Heart

Heart becomes a truly national brand.

Communicorp gets Real Radio Yorkshire (to be rebranded a Heart). Global will take on Real Radio North East, Real Radio North West, Real Radio Scotland and Real Radio South Wales, rebranding them all as Heart.

Global will continue to provide the Heart brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Smooth

Global announced that Smooth is coming off Digital One. This is because it starts to get complicated from a local ads perspective. A D1 listener in Newcastle would get national ads on DAB, but an FM listener would get local ads. It gets commercially complicated, so Smooth is split back into a network of local FM and DAB stations.

This has an affect on local programming too. By not being ‘national’, Smooth has to provide seven hours of local programming for each of their areas. Unless, that is, Global’s patchwork of local Smooth coverage gets up to 70% – if that’s the case it’s still regarded as ‘national’ and therefore none of the regionals (whoever owns them) will have to do local content (thanks to Will Jackson for that spot).

Smooth London, Smooth West Midlands and Smooth Glasgow will be owned by Global direct whilst the Smooths in the North West, North East and East Midlands will be owned by Communicorp.

In addition it seems that most of Global’s AM stations will be rebranded as Smooth – and take the Smooth network feed. Something that will increase DAB as well as analogue coverage too.

Global will continue to provide the Smooth brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Gold

Gold loses a lot of its AM transmitters but will continue in London, the East Midlands and Manchester (where Smooth exists on FM).

Global will continue to provide the Gold brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

XFM

Global keeps the London and Manchester XFMs, but also adds what’s currently Real Radio XS in Paisley to the network.

Global will continue to provide the XFM brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Still to come…

I’m not exactly sure what will happen with Real XS in Manchester (now owned by Communicorp).

There’s also a question whether the new “70s, 80s and 90s” brand that will go on Digital One could end up being what’s know at the moment as ‘Gold’ – but could, of course, be rebranded as something else… Heart Classics etc.

Summary

Overall, it puts Global in a very strong position. They’ve managed to satisfy the competition commission and hit their national brand objectives completely.

They’ll continue to provide national programming and sales and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Communicorp stations are co-located in Global buildings too.

Mark Lee who’s run Real and Smooth Ltd in the interim for Global has seemingly done a great job and will now get to do that in an expanded fashion as the UK Chief Exec for Communicorp.

Thoughts on RAJAR Q4/2013

Radios

Well, what have we learned from RAJAR? Not a lot, as everyone’s been trying to finish their Radio Academy Award entries.

So, after a quick glance…

Radio 2

Jesus, Radio 2, give it a rest. Let some of your listeners listen to something else!

It’s another increase for Radio 2 , they’re now at 15.5m listeners and 181m hours, that’s a 17.6% share of all radio listening. It’s an amazing result, driven by great talent, especially at breakfast, a clever ‘station we all agree on’ music policy and targeted specialist programming that’s out of the way. There’s also the bonus of no ads and a £47.8m content budget! Yes really!

6Music

Whilst we’re at Western House, its sister station 6music had a great book too (maybe it’s in the water?).  1.96m reach and 17.6m hours. It’s a whisker below Radio 3’s 1.99m, but way ahead on hours. R3 manages just 11.1m. That’s the odd thing about Radio 3, its average hours are quite poor – just 5.6. You would expect a specialist station like this to have much higher average hours – only 1Xtra has lower average hours if you look at the BBC’s national stations.

Commercial Radio in London

London is a competitive place to be.  Market leader is now Capital with a 5% share. They’re also number one for reach with 2.1m listeners. Also with a 5% share (but with just 50k less hours) is LBC. Back to average hours – LBC is nearly the market leader and whilst it has the same share, it has half the reach of Capital. But boy do its listeners give it their time – 10.6 average hours. Capital has stuck stubbornly for the last year around this disappointing 4.7 mark – its share would be much higher if they made people listen longer. Kiss, Magic and Heart all do better than Capital on average hours.

A dismal performance for Heart London, a 3.7 share and reach lowest for a long time, at least the last 5 years with just 1.55m listeners.

(Paul Easton later tells me it’s the lowest since Q4/2000)

Heart’s not doing that much better across the UK either. Heart’s ILR network is now reaching 6.4m people with 44m hours – its lowest ever figures. To put that in perspective. Chris Evans, on his own on Radio 2 does 36.2m hours.

Not a great result for CapitalXtra this quarter (which I think was half Choice and half Xtra?) 470k reach is below where they’ve been for the last few years. But still early days for this new brand.

Another disappointing one for XFM who’s audience does seem to bounce around a bit – London reach now 440k.

Smooth did OK (but still a low base) reach static, now 442 vs 441 last quarter. Hours back up a bit to 2.2m. Nothing to write home about.

Collectively however, this means the lowest total hours for Global in London ever.

Manchester

Slightly odd results in Manchester for both Key 103 and XFM. Key’s reach skyrocketed from 395k to 570k, with hours nearly doubling whilst XFM saw its reach drop back to its average over the past few quarters – around 180k, but its hours nearly halved.

I imagine this is a bit of a hiccup for both stations and will be corrected next quarter. However, it’s probably the first time when a wife (Kate Cocker, PD of Key) has nicked a load of hours from a husband (Tim Cocker, Breakfast XFM). Both are brilliant radio people, but I wouldn’t want to be round their kitchen table this morning.

Digital Radio

Digital Radio continues its march. 57% of the UK now listen to some form of digital radio each week (36.8% of the UK listen with DAB, 17.1% through their telly and 16.8% through the internet).

Digital hours now account for 36% of all radio listening (of that 65% is DAB).

Grimmy

It looks like Grimmy’s last book was a bit of an anomaly (5.5m reach) and he’s returned to a more healthy position – 6.29m listeners. It’s still down year on year, but it’s his highest reach figure for the past 12 months. His 15 to 24s are still lower than Moyles though and this quarter he’s added more 25 to 34s than any other demo.

If we compare Moyles in Q4/11 with Grimmy in Q4/2013, Radio 1 are able to say that Grimmy’s making the breakfast show younger. Just. Moyles 15 to 24s made up 29.4% of his audience, it’s 30.9% for Grimmy.

Moyles average age in Q4/11 – 33.6, Grimmy this quarter – 33. It isn’t particularly a Nick thing – all the shows follow a similar pattern (and similar age). Radio 1 as a whole in Q4/11 – 34.2, today? 33.7.

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Other RAJAR blog posts

 

Working Together as One Product

2014 is set to be another busy year for radio. Whilst Global Radio’s acquisition of GMG and Bauer’s need to respond have been a big driver, the key catalyst is the change in consumer behaviour and the opportunities it will provide.

The real engagement in digital  by Global and Bauer is led by opportunity. Consumer media consumption is resulting in the biggest change in listening habits for decades. Listeners have historically been given little radio choice, but the digital platforms have broken that monopoly. Listeners are seeking out what best suits them, rather than tolerating the least worst option.

This puts many listeners ‘in play’ for the first time in a while. With stations like Absolute 80s, Planet Rock, 6Music and 1Xtra grabbing a million listeners or more – developing and deploying a strong selection of stations has suddenly become a very obvious thing to do.

That’s not to say that the analogue stations are going anywhere in particular. Whilst their average hours are sure to face an inexorable decline, their reach and awareness is strong and FM is still a great platform to be on – loads of devices have it and there’s a restricted supply of new entrants. We should squeeze the benefit out of it whilst it’s still relevant and well-used.

However, with local hours under fire and local regulatory commitments to service, their long-term profitability is very much in question. Global’s resilient profits have been driven through significant cost-cutting and a strong brand roll-out. The addition of some more stations to the network will mean a repeat of their now well-practiced exercise.

It will be interesting to see if the buyers of the stations Global has to sell will choose to be a franchisee of a Global brand or go their own way. If they do become a franchise it’ll be a sure sign that the economics of running even a regional station are tough to make add up.

Ofcom’s recent correspondence about Heart Cornwall is also very little to do with the output down there, it’s very much a warning shot across the bow of what Global (or a franchisee) will be able to do to the Real Radio stations.

Global started it with Heart, but I imagine there’s more to come as owners decide what to do with their maturing/declining analogue assets.

At a larger group level, the regulation and costs associated with running these smaller stations does start to seem crazy when a well-executed, regulatory-free service like Absolute 80s or Kisstory can engage with a million people from a standing start. I’m also not sure whether increasing speech at certain points from 30% to 50% on a single station in Cornwall will make much of a difference if your listeners have already made the move to listening to 6music on their digital radios!

This change the industry faces is completely led by consumers and their ready access to more media.

As an industry, that’s what we need to be focused on – the consumer, and how our product offer fits with their lives. I often think that we should stop competing with each other – our (joint) enemy is other things that compete for our listeners’ time.

When we look at our digital radio product (DAB, DTV and our stations online) it actually does incredibly well – with over 17million people already using it every week. As throughout history, the rise of streaming services, just like television, walkmans, CDs, iPods, the Internet etc hasn’t really caused us that much trouble. Well, it has definitely caused us (in the UK) considerably less trouble than it has in other territories around the world.

Quite a big reason though is history and dumb luck. The dominance and quality of BBC radio and commercial radio’s attempt to keep up has meant that our radio ‘product’ is really very good. And really we should start to think of what we offer as a whole – commercial and BBC.

As ‘radio’ we offer listeners a high-quality ad-free music product (through Radio 1, 1x, 2 and 6m) and well-resourced news and speech services through Radios 4 and 5 and LBC and talkSPORT. We offer two classical services – one high and one popular. We offer local radio channels (some music, one speech) targeting different demographics and localised for every area of the UK. We also offer a range of national and quasi-national stations playing different types of music, around 20 ethnically-targeted stations and even a children’s radio station too. Taken together the radio product is pretty good. It’s why 90% of the country choose to use it each week for a 1billion hours of listening.

I think, in our internal focus, we forget that it is actually one product – Radio. We need to ensure that ‘Radio’ is something that continues to be understood and valued.

I hope that we’re coming to an end-game of what Digital 1 will look like – the chopping and changing will start to stop and we will be consistently able to offer listeners a great choice of stations that cater for a variety of needs.

If we’re offering a ‘Radio’ product – whether that’s consumed on DAB, DTV or the Internet – it needs to be  consistent, of quality and well marketed.

We are not immune to occasionally thinking this way. Radioplayer is a great example – a consistent product in webplayers and an excellent app on mobile and tablets that brings all of our stations together. Something we can all point to, and be proud of. And reading the comments in the app stores, is something listeners are proud of too.

But more than technology, I also think we can go further with how we market our product. I no longer think that solely concentrating on single channel brands should be our 100% focus. I’m not however advocating the tried-overseas, “isn’t radio great” marketing campaigns, usually just played on the radio.

Reach, even with young people, isn’t a big problem for us. Our enemy is time, the time consumers spend with our competitors. It isn’t because they dislike us, there’s just more stuff to do than there was in 1995. We were lucky we had these people to ourselves then, now we need to work harder to keep them.

If we’re concerned about young listeners, why aren’t we creating products (websites etc) that brings content together from Radio 1, 1Xtra, Kiss, Capital, The Hits and Fun Kids – whether that’s audio or video – and use it to show our quality and collective product’s relevance?

Yes, I would rather people listened to my radio station than someone else’s. However to do that they’ve got to be regular radio listeners in the first place.

If we were all just one product – like Sky, or Sirius or Pandora – we would be using our selection of channels to demonstrate the value of our product to subscribers. We would also be marketing specific chunks of it to different demographics to give them reasons to subscribe and get involved.

That’s why I think it’s time for us to think of ourselves as one product and make sure we’re using our vast content and skill to make sure that we continue to enjoy the success we have and grow our impact for the future.