RAJAR Q1/2016

This is the first book when we can start to look at Radio X’s figures since the re-brand. But they are somewhat confusing.

Really, there are three Radio X’s. London, Manchester and Rest of the UK. London and Manchester are on FM and have always been the two big markets for the station. All the bits in between have had a variety of coverage and no real marketing. Taken together, they all then form the network.

London’s Radio X figures are a bit of a disaster. Reach is 337k (down from 517k q on q and down from 362k y on y) – I believe that’s 104.9’s lowest reach ever, definitely lowest since Q3/04). The one slight saving grace is its average hours are up to 5.9 (from 5.7 q on q and 3.5 y on y).

Moyles has hit 170k (down from 229k q on q, but up from 117k, a particularly terrible quarter a year ago). Historically, XFM London’s breakfast has hovered about 200k, so this is not a great showing.

Manchester for the station (and Moyles) is pretty flat when looking at the past few years. A station reach of 178k (Q4/15: 182k Q1/15: 194k), for Moyles 113k (Q4/15: 104k Q1/2015: 87k). Again total hours does a bit better, as the average hours are up to 6.5 when historically it’s been around the 5s.

An analysis of the launch of Radio X London & Manchester would make pretty grim reading. Star power and marketing is generating not a lot of good news.

An analysis of the launch of Radio X London & Manchester would make pretty grim reading. Click To Tweet

BUT and there’s always a but with research. If you take the results from Manchester and London from the network total, there’s a bit of a different story. In this whitespace area, Radio X has (when comparing it to XFM a year ago) nearly tripled its reach and quadrupled its hours. Moyles himself has quadrupled the breakfast audience and generates about eight times the hours.

So looking in aggregate at the network as a whole, the new Radio X has year on year grown from 892k to 1.2m reach and hours have nearly doubled from 4,605k to 8,830k which is great for the brand as a whole and for the sales department.

However if London and Manchester had followed the same pattern as the rest of the country, the station would be comfortably over 2million reach and on the way to 3.

I think you would have to say that Moyles/the re-launch has probably churned a high proportion of old XFM listeners so the current figures are a lot of new people. BUT at the same time they don’t seem to have been able, particularly in London, to pull enough of people who previously listened to Moyles on R1.

I think this is probably a combination of things

  1. Moyles was off-air for three years. People had plenty of time to settle with a new breakfast show. If you think of the breakfast show you listen to, what would it take for you to switch to something else? I imagine quite a lot. It’s hard to get people to switch.
  2. Other London/national breakfast shows are good. Most people switch shows because their old one was merely their least worst option until something better comes along. That’s less of a thing for London’s listeners.
  3. Global don’t seem to been able to communicate that Moyles is back and what the show is. I think there’s a lot of warmth and humour in the programme and it suits a 30s/40s audience really well. For many, historically Moyles-rejectors, it could be a pleasant surprise.  I think they need to work out how to market what the show is today to potential listeners.
  4. It needs to be much more noisy. It would really benefit from aggressive PR and stunting. Moyles is a naughty character, even if he’s now ‘older and wiser’, there’s lots you could do with that. The show’s in a much better position than many to generate headlines and grow awareness and trial.

To me, the difficulty of finding and moving audience to a station like Radio X is a particular warning for Wireless Group and their new Talk Radio and Virgin Radio stations. I think the quality of radio is probably the highest it’s ever been and the volume of stations fighting it out for audience shows how difficult it is to establish something new. Success is also much much more than just programming. Of course what comes out of the speakers needs to be good – but strong branding, positioning and marketing is essential to establish something new.

News in London

One station that’s doing better than Radio X in London is LBC. In fact, both of them. Of course, with 1m listeners LBC (the Nick Ferrari one) continues to do well, but so does the ‘rolling news’ AM variant – LBC News, which pulls in 482k listeners a week. I was one of those that tuned in during the quarter and it’s not a bad listen – a station that takes updated news, travel and weather and combines it with interesting speech packages made by the Global News team. All very listenable – especially in short chunks.

But in reach terms, more people are listening to it than listening to the new BBC Radio London, who’s relaunch has seen it crash to its lowest reach ever – 354k. That’s a well-funded BBC service with a lower reach and hours than a news jukebox.

Indeed 6Music has a bigger listenership in London and Absolute 80s isn’t far behind either.

The argument will be that it’s still early days on its new schedule (but oldish format), but I think that belies the core issue. In a truly competitive environment like London it needs a much clearer, cleaner proposition on-air and that then needs to be communicated to audiences.

London Figures

Looking at the other commercial stations in the Capital, it remains razor tight.

In share terms it’s: 1. Heart (4.7%), 2. Capital (4.7%), 3. LBC (4.5%), 4. Magic (4.4%), 5. Kiss 4.4%.

In weekly reach terms it’s: 1. Capital (2.2m), 2. Kiss (2.0m), 3. Magic (1.7m), 4. Heart (1.5m), 5. LBC (1.0m)

At Breakfast, Kiss has recently extended Ricky, Melvin and Charlie’s hours to match Capital’s show – 6 to 10am. Last quarter that would have made them number 1. Unfortunately (for them) in this one, the new Capital Breakfast has had a good book with 1.164m listeners vs Kiss’s 1.042m.

Radio 1

Not a brilliant book for Radio 1. They drop below the “psychologically important” 10m reach figure – down to 9.9m. This includes a loss of around a quarter of a million 15 to 24s this quarter, that’s down around 100k on the year.

Grimmy posts his lowest ever reach for the breakfast show – 5.435m. He’s also got 250k less 15-24s than he started with, back in Sept 2012 and about 500k less than Moyles was delivering in his final year.

Digital Radio

The quality of radio, and new radio stations, particularly in markets that have been starved of choice, has made this another good quarter for digital radio.

Listening on digital radio (that’s DAB, DTV and the Internet) now accounts for 44.1% of all radio listening (up from 41.7% last quarter). If you break down the listening to platforms – 30.9% of all it is to services through DAB, 5.4% from listening on the telly and 7.8% from listening to the internet/apps.

We’ve also seen analogue listening increase – from 50.7% to 55.9%. Huh? How is digital and analogue up? Well, there’s always been an unallocated part of listening – people who for some of their listening, don’t know which platform they’ve been listening on. This is now allocated based on the rest of their attributed listening. There’s no digital bonus – as people who haven’t ticked a digital platform in the rest of their diary will still be seen as an analogue-only listener. RAJAR explain it a bit more here.

But that 44.1% is still yet to included any digital audience boost from the addition of the new D2 stations and Heart Extra – we’ll find out about those in the next quarter. Suddenly that 50% digital listening mark doesn’t seem that far away!

Hitting that target kicks off a load of discussion for the plans to transition off analogue radio. Indeed, in the BBC White Paper the Government have mandated that the BBC will help lead that process.

And finally…

If you want some ideas to help keep your RAJAR’s up, pop in your diary this year’s Next Radio Conference. It’s on the 19th September in London AND we’re giving away 10 tickets. Register to win here!

Check out more RAJAR fun with Adam BowiePaul EastonJohn Rosborough and media.info has all the RAJAR figures in historical graph form – https://media.info/radio/data/rajar for more.

4 thoughts on “RAJAR Q1/2016”

  1. Matt,

    As far as I’m aware, currently LBC London News is not automated. The presentation is live, even at weekends with the journalist driving the desk throughout their shift, including playing out the pre-prepared cuts either from Sky News, LBC or Global’s Newsroom journalists.

    Initially Global did add an element of automation, but this was soon scrapped and the Rajar’s reflect how popular this cheap and cheerful rolling news station is.

  2. I think one of the major problems with BBC locals, which is harming the London figures, is the homogeneous sound of the stations – the production and the music and the general station sound is the same on London or Manchester as on Shropshire or Cumbria and it just doesn’t work for me. These are local radio stations and need to reflect their local areas.

    I can’t get BBC London, but I do listen to Manchester from time to time (which has a similar – although not as dire – RAJAR problem) and it just… doesn’t *sound* like a station that covers a major, growing, vibrant urban area. It plays generic easy-listening and oldies and leans far too much on the “what’s your favourite biscuit” style of speech radio. When I tuned in at 17:30 the other night they were doing ‘guess the mystery year’ and playing Status Quo – right at the peak of afternoon drive.

    There’s no excuse for it – it’s not like it’s a rural patch with nothing happening day-to-day, and in a city that’s lacking in local radio (only Key and a couple of outlying independent stations are local all day) it needs to be the voice of the city, out in the streets, reflecting what’s going on in politics and sport and culture and music in a really exciting young city.

    These stations – London, Manchester, Leeds, WM etc – have a real opportunity to own their markets and they aren’t taking it. I don’t know if it’s down to BBC management at a higher level dictating what can and can’t be done, but if we aren’t going to lose BBC local radio altogether on the grounds that no one’s listening, then something has to happen.

  3. Hi Matt,

    Really interesting reading. It begs the question, how on earth does BBC Radio London editor David Robey keep his job? His re-launch was basically re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Giving Jo Good 3 hours when no-one was listening for 2 hours is madness. He’s destroyed the station and alienated a lot of loyal listeners. As admin on the Danny Baker Facebook page most of the group have switched over to Talk Radio or 6 Music.

    Most of these listeners have shown brand loyalty to 94.9 but now feel the station offers them nothing. Lots of listeners from Robert Elms fan pages feel the same.

  4. It is really good to see the increase in digital radio listening across the country BUT recently my wife and I stayed in Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales and there was no DAB reception in that part of Wharfedale.

    The only radio stations that I could clearly receive were BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, & 4 as well as Classic FM on the high-powered FM frequencies broadcasting from Holme Moss plus the local commercial station Stray FM on 107.8 FM and a fuzzy signal from the community station Dales Radio on 104.9 FM. There appeared to be no BBC local radio FM coverage either from BBC Radio Leeds or BBC Radio York.

    It is therefore essential that if there is, at some point in the future, to be any BBC FM transmitters closed down that there must be complete DAB/DAB+ coverage of the UK population (over 99%) before any BBC FM switch-off takes place. Also local DAB multiplexes must be rolled out to cover such areas as Upper Wharfedale and similar places in the rest of the UK.

    Extension of listener choice through DAB and other forms of digital radio is great BUT existing radio listeners must not be disenfranchised by any future switch-off of FM.

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