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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.