Next Radio 2014

I love working in radio. I love the fact that we all do something that entertains or informs nearly every person in the country. I love it as a medium. I love that it’s having to evolve to better look after our listeners. I love digital, I love the video, I love the website. I love someone I’ve never met, talking to me through a speaker. Making me laugh. Making me cry. I love hearing songs that activate a memory. I love hearing songs I’ve never heard before. I love looking up from my desk and saying to my colleague Joe, who sits next to me, “Did you hear that?”.

I think the thing I love the most is that it’s an industry based on ideas – things individuals or teams come up with. I love hearing about them, whether that’s through a mate, a tweet or at a conference.

James Cridland and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to create a radio conference based on ideas. So, every year, we get around 25 brilliant people to tell you about ideas, concepts or the things that they do. Each session is either 9 minutes or 18 minutes, there are no boring panels and it covers all of radio – presenting, production, online, sales. It’s called Next Radio and this year it’s on Monday 8th September at the Royal Institution in London.

We also wanted to create an event that’s as cheap as possible to go to as we know, from experience, that your boss won’t always pay (that’s if you have a boss). The Earlybird price (open for a few weeks) is just £99 and at the price we only lose a little bit of money per ticket! Yes – it’s the worst business model ever! Luckily people like Broadcast Bionics generously sponsor so we can keep the price as low as we can.

If you love radio and ideas as much as we do, we would love to see you this year. Not sure? You can see what we get up to by watching videos of sessions from previous years at http://nextrad.io/. But come on, it’s actually really easy. If you’re the sort of person that reads this blog then you’re the sort of person that should come to Next Radio.

We’ll be announcing the speakers in the coming weeks. But there’s people booked from the BBC, Global Radio, Bauer, Orion, the Government’s website and radio stations from around the world who can’t wait to tell you their ideas. You can find out more (and get your tickets!) at http://nextrad.io/.

RAJAR Q1/2014

RAJAR is getting harder and harder to report on.

This is mainly for two reasons:

1. The data source is large and detailed. Radio groups are now using it through additional backstage ‘trading’ numbers to better describe their stations to agencies. So for quasi-national stations like Heart they’re now reporting more accurate numbers taking into account their FM simulcasts and DTV versions. This is a good thing. It’s also going to open up more relevant data as radio groups follow Absolute’s lead with regard to doing different things with internet streams too.

2. We live in a very competitive world. London’s chopping and changing is coming from a close fought battle between the BBC, Bauer and Global. Personally I think it’s making radio more diverse and better quality. A rising tide carries all ships.

This all makes it a little more difficult for your correspondent, the part-time RAJAR blogger.

So, what’s struck me this quarter?

Smooth. This quarter takes into account Global’s musical changes but not really their new line-up. Generally the expectation is that change causes regulars to move away before new listeners top yourself up. No sign of that problem for Global yet. Looking at the ‘old’ Smooth, that’s before they added a load of Gold stations to the network, we see around half a million added to reach and about 20% added to the hours.

Looking at the new Smooth network as a whole, they’ve added around a million listeners and driven their market share from 2.3% to 3.2%.

In London Smooth has seen one of its highest ever ratings successes with 565k reach and 3.6m hours. Early days as it is, it’s already looking like a big success for Global.

London. London remains a ridiculously volatile market. Radio 4 and Radio 2 retain the top spots in share (though both taking a kick q on q and y on y) followed by Heart (5.3%), Magic (5.3%), LBC (5.2%), Kiss (4.8%), R1 (4.5%) and Capital (4.4%). The previously mentioned Smooth pulls a 1.7% share , pretty much equalling the brand’s high water mark.

Reach-wise, top stations after R4 and R2 are Magic, Capital, Kiss and Heart.

I feel bad for Capital, it has the ability to get a much higher share, but it continues to exist as content-less radio station demonstrated by its continually poor average hours. Of course it’s hard to generate hours at the younger-end, but R1 and Kiss seem to manage it much better than Capital. To me the real kicker is that the branding and music of Capital is great, there’s just very little sticky content (outside of breakfast) to tune into.

Digging deeper into Capital, looking at Marvin from JLS’ evening show numbers, he’s seen significant declines in that slot. Partly a strong Kiss and R1 but listening in he’s seemingly not allowed to deliver the personality he’s surely hired for, making him a somewhat expensive voice-tracker.

Grimmy. As expected, the last survey was a bit of an outlier (at 6.3m) with this survey returning to the, albeit high end, of his previous figures with 5.9m. The best part of his figures are that he’s consolidating his 15 to 24 audience, with 2m of them, at the same time as seeing a decent decline in the other demos. This is R1 Breakfast successfully delivering on the high wire act he’s forced to walk – keeping total reach acceptable, maintaining a large youth share, whilst killing off the oldies.

However, even with Nick’s good work, R1’s average age nudges back up (when measured 15+) to 34. As a comparison – Capital London (34), Kiss (30), The Hits (28), 1Xtra (26), Capital Xtra (29) and Kiss Fresh (26).

Radio 2. Bloody Radio 2 continues to be unstoppable by cheating at radio with their excellent line-up, clever music choices, lack of ads and a £47.8m/year content budget. They’re now up to a surely embarrassing 15.568m listeners and a 17.9% share of all radio listening (that’s more listening than all of Global Radio’s hours combined).

Digital. Digital’s been interesting this quarter with the share increasing to 36.6% with 56.4% of all UK listeners tuning in digitally at some point in a week.

It’s a good result for digital, but not the best. What’s had a bit of a hit is a decline in DTV consumption – 51m vs last quarter’s 53m hours and a 200k drop in reach. I think we may well have hit ‘peak DTV’ use.

Internet listening saw a decline in reach (q on q) but saw some hours growth. DAB was pretty steady this quarter though did manage both reach and hours growth.

Digital Radio UK have put out some interesting figures about London stating that digital radio now has a 44.1% share, but when you dig down further and look at listening in-home, digital now has a 50.9% share of listening.

I think London is a bit of a special case – but it’s digital success is driven by a few things.

1. Analogue radio is really crap in London. Pirates infest the airwaves with many traditional stations now unlistenable on analogue radio. As a predominantly digital listener, you really notice it when you’re in an analogue-only environment like a car.

2. There’s true choice in the Capital. The national multiplexes and three locals provide around 60 stations catering for all tastes and interests. It’s no real surprise that this generates lots of digital listening.

The digital transition is most keenly being felt by Bauer. As a radio group over half their hours now comes from digital listening. Strong investment in DTV, good digital-only brands and solid digital listening to their analogue stations puts them in a great position as radio consumption continues to change.

It’s also helping Bauer catch-up with Global on the sales front. Bauer and Orion combined now provides 143m hours. Global Radio Sales delivers 209m hours.

And finally… Well done to Key 103 – highest hours since 2006 and highest reach since December 2003 making it Manchester’s Number 1 Hit Music Station for the first time in a long time!

Picture nicked from Adam Bowie, who I imagine will have a good RAJAR update too. 

Also… A Northern Ireland Update from John Rosborough
And a London update from Paul Easton
Plus a MediaTel summary