Radio Formats & Union Jack

I’ve just got back home after a lovely holiday in Bergerac, followed by a quick trip to Amsterdam for a RadioDays Europe production meeting. If you’re aren’t aware RDE is the biggest conference in European radio and is an amazing melting pot of different people and ideas.

I’ve been involved with the event for a number of years supporting what they do online, but this year I’ve been bumped up to the programme committee. Hark at me etc.

The committee is made up of a load of radio folks from all across the continent and we’re tasked with putting together around 50 sessions that reflect the diversity and vibrancy of the radio sector. We had a good kick off meeting and were joined by lots of other radio folk who were contributing ideas and thoughts. Oh – and if you have an idea for a session please email me – and I’ll suggest it too.

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Anyway, the thing I want to talk about is the dinner we had after the first meeting. At my end of the table it was me and new radio colleagues from Finland, Denmark and Switzerland. As I’m sure you’re aware, radio folk are never short of topics to talk about, so aided by some booze it was a good night.

What I was a surprised about were some of the UK radio things I got interrogated about and also how some general assumptions about radio formats and interest in show types was very different.

There was lots of interest in the new D2 stations and the performance of things like LBC. Many European public broadcasters are, often because of DAB, suddenly facing new formats competing with their heritage position, so they were keen to know what was coming next. They were also interested in finding out about Bauer – as the company has started to make a big splash acquiring stations in the Nordic countries and much of the reporting lines lead to the management in Golden Square.

The biggest surprise though were that none of my colleagues, later joined by a Swedish one too, could understand why you would want to talk about sport on the radio. Listening to sports – fine. But a discussion afterwards, they said there would be entirely no interest from their listeners.

Now, sport isn’t exactly my core interest, but I performed a spirited defence of 606 and talkSPORT. They knew it worked in the UK, but were adamant it wouldn’t work in their own countries – and a station like talkSPORT would have no chance whatsoever – their listeners cared about what the scores were not why they were.

Was it just received wisdom, assumptions or a deep understanding of their audience? Who knows. Though I did find myself volunteering to start a competitive sports radio station in Stockholm. Perhaps I’d had a little too much wine.

What is in no doubt is that in the UK, we forget how vibrant and developed our radio market is, something I think is a result of a very well funded BBC, a resilient commercial sector and the potential that DAB has brought to the country.

Indeed, another new station has just popped on the dial as of a few minutes ago – Union Jack – a new national radio station that’s taken the very last few kilobits on D2.

Union Jack is the brainchild of the guys behind Jack FM in Oxford and the original progenitors of Absolute Radio – Donnach O’Driscoll, Clive Dickens and Ian Walker.

The station’s based on the main Jack service – an irreverent classic hits format – but with a slight twist in that it’s only going to play British music. I think this is a neat concept and something that will lend itself to marketing and stunting pretty well. It’s also driven by Futuri’s Listener Driven Radio product. This allows listeners to vote up songs (from a wider database than would normally be on a similarly formatted service) to get them on the radio.

In reality it’s got some clever rules around it to stop it being, er, Boaty McBoatfaced all the time, whist still giving the perception of being listener-controlled. It’s also a good way to engage listeners and build a database.

No doubt it will be another format our friends in mainland Europe are interested in and I wish all the Jack guys success with their new radio station.

RAJAR Q2/2016

A plethora of DAB related news in this quarter’s RAJAR. This is the first survey that’s included stations from ‘D2’ the Sound Digital national multiplex that launched at the end of February.

This saw the addition of new stations including talkRADIO, Virgin Radio and Magic Chilled as well as “upgrades” of stations like Jazz FM and Heat going from a smaller number of areas to nationwide coverage. It also saw some “downgrades” too, with Absolute 80s and Planet Rock moving from D1 which covers over 90% of the UK population, to D2 which covers around 75%.

Plus some of these stations – Magic Chilled and Jazz FM – are broadcast in DAB+, so it’s the first time we’re seeing DAB+ listening behaviour.

The topline digital news, is that 65% of the UK listen to some form of digital radio (DAB, DTV or Online) each week. This digital consumption now accounts for 45.3% of all radio listening (up from 44.1% last quarter).

Half of the UK’s radio listeners (49.7%) now listen to radio on DAB each week.

As I mentioned on the Radio Today podcast, I really think we’re in a golden age of radio right now. The scale of the broadcast platforms means that these news stations can get decent-sized audiences and justify investment in a range of content with significant presentation and production.

Areas that had around 10 radio stations on analogue 10 years ago are now likely to have easy access to 50. Whether it’s new national stations like 6Music or Virgin Radio, upgrades of stations like Kiss and LBC to be nationwide or new local stations like Radio Yorkshire and Great Yorkshire Radio, listeners have never had it so good.

The idea of having to put up with a “least worst option” is long gone and listeners now get to self-schedule by picking and mixing a variety of stations to match their mood or need.

Wireless Group and Bauer

The second national multiplex was a big investment for the Wireless Group with the launch of talkRADIO, Virgin Radio and talkSPORT2.

Virgin Radio’s kicked off with 409k reach and 1.4m hours. talkSPORT2’s tempted 285k to tune in and added nearly a million hours for the sales team to sell and talkRADIO’s debuted with 224k and 840k hours.

Over at Bauer, the reduction in coverage for Planet Rock and Absolute 80s seems to have had an effect on the audience figures.

Planet Rock has declined from 1.2m to 986k and Absolute 80s has fallen back 1.720m to 1.581m. Kisstory, on the hand, which has seen its digital coverage grow, adds 100k reach going from 1.440m to 1.540m, putting it in spitting distance to capture AR80s ‘biggest commercial digital station’ crown.

Heat has seen no appreciable gains in their coverage upgrade with their figures dropping back from 878k to 872k, though seeing a small increase in hours. Heat hasn’t really seen any growth for a little while, so I’d assume it’s more likely to be a programme-related rather than platform-related issue.

Two of Bauer’s new stations are interesting to compare – Mellow Magic (think Ace, Percy Sledge and Sutherland Brothers) and Magic Chilled (Adele, TLC, Rhianna). Both are on D2, but Chilled is broadcast using the newer flavour of DAB, DAB+, whilst Mellow is in the regular version of DAB.

Mellow’s done 380k, whilst Chilled’s reached 233k. For both around 80% of their audience is through DAB. I think this bodes very well for DAB+ as a digital radio format. Obviously a like for like comparison is impossible – as they’re two differently formatted radio stations – but Chilled really is a great sounding station and it’s had an impressive debut.

For new stations, the first quarter isn’t always brilliantly indicative, and as the stations grow and develop their trajectory may change significantly. What is interesting though is how similar the Magic Chilled and talkRADIO audience figures are. 233k vs 224k. I imagine the cost base of the two are quite different even if the reach is very similar.

I think Chilled’s success is partly down to cross-promotion and the power of the umbrella brand. No above the line marketing, but it’s clearly a very understandable format. Two songs in, and you know what it’s there to do.

For talkRADIO, as an occasional listener, it clearly varies significantly across the day – it’s challenge is to communicate this breadth, or what the specific shows do. In a competitive media environment this is even harder, but the opinionated/funny nature would surely benefit from well and speedily executed social media – particularly more video – combined with some aggressive PR pushes of content.

I don’t think this is something particularly limited to talkRADIO – cutting through is very hard without big advertising budgets, I know it’s something that we often worry about with Fun Kids. But with the changing nature of listening and the breadth of stations available, marketing is something that all new stations are going to have to more heavily invest in to stand out and grow.

The acquisition by NewsCorp may be the saviour of these new Wireless Group stations, as access to both money and NewsCorp talent and titles will surely benefit the growth of their new stations.

Back to the DAB+, the other DAB+ addition is Jazz FM – who seemed to have added around 100k listeners outside of London (where they broadcast in regular DAB).

The worry for DAB+ use in the UK is that it would deliver Sunday League style audiences. But it looks like it’s making a solid Division 1 performance compared to the Premier League of DAB’s distribution, these all seem very respectable numbers to build on.

Global

More oddities from Radio X. After a poor London performance and strong national data last time round, this quarter London’s had a bit of a resurgence but national (and Manchester) have taken a hit. Another aberration? Or has Virgin Radio’s appearance stolen some of its thunder?

A stellar performance though from LBC – jumping to the number 1 spot in the capital’s share chart – surely driven by three months of pre-Brexit vote discussion? I know it’s a station that generated cume from me from the first time.

Radio 1

Radio 1 continues to face significant pressure. Lowest reach since 2003 at 9.4m and second lowest hours. The station, of course, is up against changing listener behaviour from younger audiences, but I don’t think it can hide entirely behind it.

Radio 1 remains, I imagine, the world’s best funded CHR radio station. £40m on content, significant cross-media marketing support and a digital team any other radio station for kill for. It’s “psychological” 10m reach point is now surely permanently broken and beyond defending. Arresting the decline of 15-24s and 15-34s – where this quarter they’re delivering lowest ever reach and hours for both, is surely what it should now be concentrating on.

Capital Xtra

Global’s Capital Xtra smashed to pieces Choice FM and started afresh, something that destroyed audiences in those early months, but is now paying dividends looking far more prosperous, up from 950k to 1.3m reach year on year.

Jack

Digital opportunities are not limited to the big boys. The guys behind Oxford’s Jack FM launched a digital only version in Surrey and South London, delivering nearly 60k reach, pretty close to the figures their Oxford analogue station gives them. Another demonstration that consistency,  branding and distribution can help build success for any new service.

More to read:
Adam Bowie, Paul Easton and John Rosborough

Snapchat & Radio

Some interesting news from Snapchat today as they announce Snap Ads and their advertising API. It’s a couple of announcements rolled into one. Firstly the non-stop feed of stories you watch as a consumer will be interrupted by commercial content and secondly they’ve created a way for those ads to be submitted and traffic’d by third parties.

Snapchat, up to now, has strongly controlled access to its platform, but the scale of interest from commercial players has meant that it needs to lower its barriers to entry to allow the waves of cash to come flooding in.

In the last few months, the mentions of Snapchat on Kiss, Radio 1, Capital and The Hits have gone through the roof, as they catch up with the audience’s interest in the platform.

If you don’t know how Snapchat works, then pretty much you’ve failed as someone who works in media dealing with audiences. Go download it, and work it out.

There’s basically three ways it’s used – Messaging, Stories and Discover.

  • Messaging allows just that – the ability to send text/images/video to people and for it to be self-destructive.
  • Stories are public/public-to-your friends grouping of the last 24hrs of your videos and images.
  • Discover allows a small selection of brands to create daily expiring magazines for the platform.

Most radio stations, especially those with a youth targeted skew, will want to have a Snapchat presence and the easiest way is through Stories. But it’s a big challenge.

Right now, there’s no real professional tools to make your updates. You have to do them all on a phone (and only one phone can be logged into an account at any one time) and you can’t add saved pictures/videos from your phone to the app. You need to pretty much do it all live.

But more than that, I think Snapchat potentially shows up radio stations that have very little of their own content. People who are great at Stories, often individuals, can communicate the excitement of taking you, the viewer, somewhere. Can you radio station do that?

Much radio social media is about links and memes – reformulating other people’s content and ideas and pushing it at an audience hoping it will generate some ‘engagement’ – likes, clicks, whatever. It’s generally very bad at showing a radio station’s personality or creativity. Often it just shows up the DJ’s bad image cropping skills.

Snapchat is very different – there are no links and it’s hard to re-hash someone else’s content. Instead you have to actually make something new and fresh and you keep having to make it as your old stuff expires in 24 hours!

Done right though, and you have an IV drip into consumer’s brains. If much of radio’s ratings come from recall and listening opportunities, Snapchat is the perfect platform.

I also hope that the necessity to keep feeding it with actual radio station content will encourage stations to make more of their own. If you have little or no non-music content on your radio station from 10am to 4pm and from 7pm to 6am how can you use these and other platforms to describe what you do and keep people interested?

The production, or actually the thinking, needed to drive these products could also be very valuable for your station as a whole. What are we doing today? What are we doing this week? Where are the interesting moments going to be? Who’s coming in? What are we going to do with them? What platforms is it going to go on? These should all be core questions for any radio station. Of course there’s room for spontaneity, but there’s a lot more room for delivering great, planned content, for audiences.

Radio is now more competitive than ever. Not just from the explosion in stations – most areas now have 20 more this year than they did last year – but also the competition we have for people’s time. We are in a brilliant position. We have great access to talent and audiences – we’re in the perfect position to build on these new platforms. Other products would kill for what we’re able to do. The trick is how we more aggressively use these positives to think about what we do, and make, for our audiences.

 

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.

Two Radio Podcasts I’m Enjoying

Two radio podcasts I’m really enjoying listening to at the moment are David Lloyd’s Conversations and Craig Bruce’s Game Changers: Radio.

David‘s the Group PD (in old money) of Orion Media and somewhat of a radio historian. Now, to be honest, radio nostalgia isn’t really my thing. I’ve always been an anorak of now, rather than then.

However, I am interested in radio people. I’m interested in finding out what they did and why they did it. It’s hard to do this for things happening today as people are often worried about letting their guard down or revealing some commercial confidentiality. As you drift back through time, it’s less of an issue, but often the decision making and thought it still very relevant.

I think Conversations as a title is a bit of a misnomer, as David clearly works hard to edit as much as himself out as possible. What’s left is a beautifully produced part-history, part self-analysis of some people who’ve had a significant effect on radio.

Many of the people are ‘famous’ for their roles in later management, it’s lovely to hear the real radio roots.

Craig Bruce was, up until recently, the Content Director for Australia’s largest radio group Southern Cross Austereo. He’s worked with some fascinating people and what I’ve read about him and what I felt when I spent some time with him, is that he’s incredibly focused on delivering great performances – be it from talent or teams.

His podcasts are long-form interviews with some big Australian radio talent from in front of, and behind, the radio mic.

As a Brit, it won’t be a surprise if you don’t really know who these interviewees are. I actually think it makes it more interesting. If you’re fascinated by the craft of radio and how brilliant radio folk think and work, this is a great podcast to give you ideas and to re-think how you approach your radio work.

  • A good place to start is the episode with Hamish and Andy’s producer Sam Cavanagh.

Radio Market Shares

News today that Bauer Media have acquired Orion Media (the people that own Free Radio/Gem etc). It made me have a look at the current market shares of operators in the UK.

  • BBC: 53.5%
  • Global Radio: 19.5%
  • Bauer+Orion: 15.0%
  • Wireless Group: 2.9%
  • Communicorp UK: 2.3%
  • UKRD: 0.7%
  • Lincs FM Group: 0.6%
  • Celador: 0.4%
  • Jazz: 0.2%
  • Nation Group: 0.2%
  • Anglian: 0.2%
  • Q: 0.2%
  • Tindle Radio Group: 0.1%
  • Adventure: 0.1%
  • kmfm Group: 0.1%
  • Quidem: 0.1%
  • CN Radio: 0.1%
  • Cheshire Radio: 0.0%

A couple of things. Firstly the BBC is still a stonkingly strong part of the UK radio market. It continues to dwarf the rest of the sector.

Secondly, we’re pretty much getting to the end of ten years of radio consolidation.  BBC, Global and Bauer account for nearly 88% of all UK radio listening – their dominance is almost, to pardon a pun, absolute.

Bauer have been acquiring UK radio hours over the past couple of years through the purchase of Absolute, Planet Rock and now Orion in an attempt to reach a similar scale to Global. That, alongside their digital successes have increased their share from 10% to 15% in the past ten years. There options now though are somewhat limited.

When you look at further major consolidation possibilities you’re only really left with Communicorp and Wireless. Communicorp is tough for Global or Bauer, to own outright because of market dominance issues (though Global own the national hours for sales), so Wireless is really the last potential operator that would give either Global or Bauer that final boost.

Whether it’s up for sale is, of course, another matter.

 

How Are People Listening and What Happens Next?

You may have gathered that I’m a fan of radio data.

I love it because deep down I’m really a fan of listeners. I think radio’s job is to cater for their tastes, interests and needs, as well as giving them the occasional surprise by providing them something they didn’t know that they wanted.

To a do a good job at this, you have to understand them and their lives.

I am always wary of people who slag of (any form) of radio research. How arrogant to think that you, on your own, know what’s best for other people?

Now, I have a strong idea of what people want because of the experience I’ve built up making radio and radio stations, but I always want to test these ideas from real feedback from the listener.

In this modern multi-media platform world, it’s much harder know what people want, because their world is changing. Tablets, Sonos, Wifi, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook – (for non early adopters) the last five years have been incredibly disruptive. People have formed super-strong new habits with new technology and content.

You would be fucking mental if you didn't think this has had an effect on 'our' listeners. Click To Tweet

Reach and Hours as a measurement has been pretty good for radio. It tracks how many people we’re reaching and how much time they’re spending with us. Where people used radio and how they listened has never been that important – it’s always been a car radio or a home/office radio.

The battle we’ve fought has been against each other. The battle we’re now facing is winning people’s time.

To do that it’s essential that we understand how we’re doing in different places, against other devices. It’s vital to be able to see where you are, to work out where you want to go and then how you’re going to do it.

It’s great that RAJAR have published its MIDAS survey in more detail than they previously have – really looking at how time listening to audio is split amongst radio, streaming, music videos on YouTube etc as well as how that changes with different ages and different devices. There’s quite a bit in there, but what I find interesting is where radio is winning the battle for time and where we’re losing.

And indeed, what we should defend and what areas should we attack?

On the face of it, it’s pretty good news:

shareofaudiotime

Live radio still totally dominates in listening. We’re lucky because we’ve got these industry-specific audio-consumption devices (radios) that people have got and love. We have vendor lock-in! A proprietary device that limits the number of new entrants – APPLE HAVE NOTHING ON US.

 

When we look at how people are listening to ‘live radio’ it’s these devices that continue to rule.

bydevice

This chart is the reason that there are no successful internet radio stations in the UK (my judge of success – actual listeners, run as a business, making money, investing in content).

To have any chance of being successful you need to be on FM/AM, DAB or, at a push DTV. If you’re playing on the other platforms, even if you’re doing AN AMAZING job, there just isn’t the volume of listening to be able to do well.

However there is a tyranny with the success of our platform. Live radio is significantly challenged in other places.

newplatforms

We’re doing okay in the PC world – but streaming services are coming up fast. I think it’s amazing that our PC listening is so strong when, generally, our web products are pretty dreadful. Why aren’t we building on the success of Radioplayer to build out more cross-industry web products? We need to strengthen our lead there, not let it be lost.

Similarly what’s our, and when I say our, I mean YOUR station but also our industry approach to creating something great for tablets – it’s our least successful new platform. When was that last time someone even mentioned it in your station?

On the mobile, I think we face our biggest challenge. There is lots of good stuff on a phone that’s non-audio but it eats into our time with listeners.  Looking at audio specifically – podcasts are doing well, and music video is starting to make an impact – where are our products in those sectors? Not, where is Station FM’s podcasts – but where are we working together to show radio industry content and make our brilliant stuff discoverable?

Today we dominate audio listening, driven by radio devices. We reach 90% of the country and they spend a ridiculous amount of time with us. It’s time to take that lead, reach and impact and start invading other sectors, doing a better job to defend and grow radio’s position.

Chris Moyles – RAJAR Q4/2015

I’m sure they’ll be a load of press coverage around the return of Moyles this quarter. The problem is that we haven’t really got all the data in yet to properly say how he’s doing.

Radio X’s London figures are measured over three months, but Radio X elsewhere – in Manchester and the ‘UK’ – is measured over a six month period. Therefore, this time round we only get half Radio X and half XFM.

So, what do we know?

Well, I think there will be some disappointment about how he, and the new Radio X, has done in London. They’ve gone from a station reach of 507k to 517k. Which is fairly flat. The show itself has had the best reach for about eight years (and hours for about ten), but it’s still perhaps not quite the scale everyone had hoped for. At a push I’d say that it’s likely that they’ve churned a lot of listening – ie they’ve brought in a similar amount to what they’ve lost. What tells me that? Well the proportion of Radio X listeners who listen to breakfast has gone up quite a bit – 42% to 58%. 104.9 is now a radio station with a base of Moyles fans.

I thought it would have been Moyles’ London figures that would have had the strength, with the rest of the country, because of the 3/6 month thing, gradually following further behind in the next few surveys. But, it hasn’t really worked like that. Even with a 6 month survey period, it’s the UK numbers – that look at the station as a whole – that have seen the growth. For the UK station, reach is up from 1.04m to 1.22m and the national breakfast numbers are up around 40%. Looking at the data it seems like he’s also sitting on a strong UK book for next time, when we’ll perhaps see him on the verge of doubling the old XFM UK breakfast audience.

Similar to London, 97.7 in Manchester has been pretty flat too, with the audience even dropping back a little this quarter.

I suppose what’s happened is that for Manchester and London, where X was on FM, this has all been a bit of a shock – these were stations with passionate audiences. Moyles has brought in new listeners and it’s about balanced out the ones who’ve fled. However, where the growth for Radio X is coming from, is outside its two FM cities. To these listeners this is very much a new radio station.

Global are seemingly on the road to a successful launch of their new station – driven by digital listening – outside of the analogue areas. As the national figures get a full book next quarter, I think we’ll start to see it look more like a success.

Listening to Moyles, the shows three months on are perhaps unsurprisingly much stronger than the early few. The team, who were all very uncertain of their roles and what the dynamic would be, have settled into a much more steady rhythm with individual personalities coming to the fore. Pippa’s dating storylines have really helped round her out and Dave, nervous of Moyles in the beginning, is being given much more meaty things to do and sound much more confident and happy taking part.

I think part of the thing they’re aiming for is a much more relaxed feel. Positioning themselves against formatted breakfast shows, using authenticity (of which Chris has buckets) to make the show seem different is not a bad tactic. Whilst I enjoy the show, as a listener the lack of benchmarks, the changing competition mechanics and thus the need to provide quite a bit of explanation and exposition can though make it hard to navigate.

Overall though, the show is clearly a good one and, with the right focus, will only get better. Global themselves have never been shy of spending money on marketing, but just reading the Facebook page and tweets to Moyles, there is still a big job to do to teach people that not only is Moyles on Radio X, but that’s it’s easy to tune into digitally. There is still more old listeners to deliver across.

Moyles: The show is clearly a good one and, with the right focus, will only get better: Click To Tweet

However for Global and Moyles to achieve the promise, they’re going to have to stay focused and keep delivering. They’ve made a more solid start to this battle than it perhaps seems on the surface, but there’s still a good way to go.

There’s normally more RAJAR fun from Adam Bowie, Paul Easton and John Rosborough.

RAJAR Q3/2015

Some things I’ve noticed from this quarter’s RAJAR…

Digital

Another good quarter for digital radio. 41.9% of all radio listening in the UK is on a digital platform (two-thirds of that is through DAB). 63% of the country listen to some form of digital radio each week – that’s 30m listeners. 20m listeners listen to DAB each week, 9m listen online and 7.7m tune in through their telly.

I really feel for you if you’re radio station isn’t on some broadcast digital platforms. The real world effect of that 41.8% means that your available audience is now only 60% of the market, a huge handicap before you’ve even started.

National digital stations are now huge parts of UK radio listening. Absolute 80s has 1.5m, Kisstory 1.3m, Kerrang’s on 820k, Heat’s on 912k, Planet Rock on 1.2m, 6Music on 2.1m, 1Xtra on 1.1m and Radio 4 Extra with a super strong 2.2m.

With hybrid analogue/digital networks – Magic doubles its London FM audience  – now reaching 3.4m and Smooth Extra (the Smooth that fills in the gaps of the FM Smooth’s) has a first book of 930k.

If you’re a stand-alone local station wondering where your audience is going – this is the answer!

Radio 1

  • Radio 1 has had its 2nd lowest 15-24 reach ever.
  • The Radio 1 Breakfast show has its lowest ever 15-24 reach
  • 15-24’s make up the (joint) lowest proportion of its total audience ever.
  • 15-24’s make up the third lowest proportion of the Breakfast Show’s total audience ever.
  • Radio 1’s average age is the second highest it’s been in the last ten years.

I don’t envy Radio 1’s challenge. Getting younger audiences to listen to the radio is hard and it maintains a huge heritage with older audiences. Nick’s breakfast show is sounding better than it has for a long time and it still generates a 22% share of 15-24s – which is impressive.

However, it is Radio 1’s job to fix the problems above. It gets £40m to ensure that it can do an exceptional job of catering for young audiences. Kiss and Capital have as much heritage but manage a younger average age. Capital, with much worse distribution manage nearly 80% of R1’s 15-24 reach and beats it for 10 to 14s. R1’s budget and marketing access give it massive advantages that it should be benefiting from.

In its RAJAR press release Radio 1’s Controller trumpets the YouTube reach (1m views a day and 85% of audience aged 13-34). I think this makes the on air figures all the more disappointing. R1 has built an amazing YouTube platform with loads of great content, however it does virtually nothing to get the people it reaches to listen to the radio. Of the last five videos I can see – Innuendo Bingo, Derulo Live Lounge, Bieber on Grimmy, Pia Surprise Karaoke/Edmondson, Pewdiepie – the only one that has any reference to on-air, sort of, is PewdiePie where the description mentions that you can watch the takeover show on the Radio 1 website on a certain day. Even then it fails to mention that it’s also on the radio.

With the rest there’s no reference to how you can listen to Scott/Clara/Nick/Matt or when you should tune in. Hiding behind ‘teens don’t listen to the radio’ is easier to do when you not using your relationships with them to encourage them to listen to the radio.

Radio 1 is full of great content, so why at the end of Nick’s Bieber vid didn’t they say who’s the next big guest, what day they’re on and how to listen? Same for the Live Lounge. Why isn’t Clara IDing it reminding us to listen in the morning?

If you haven’t watched it, there’s a great clip with Greg James and Vin Diesel (stay with me) where he gets quite emotional about the Live Lounge. These are the sort of connections with audiences we would sell our Mums to get hold of – it’s such a wasted opportunity not to take this passion and use it to generate more value for the station.

There of course is an argument that Radio 1 is not just a radio station, but the BBC’s vessel for reaching young audiences and therefore YouTube, the iPlayer channel, Twitter etc all work as their own unique platforms and they should be creating specific content for those channels. I just don’t buy it. Radio 1 has a service licence that almost entirely concentrates on being a radio station – digital platforms are there to support the radio. Not the other way around.

London

London remains such a competitive place commercially. Capital’s had a bit of a resurgence over the past few quarters, this time winning the city in share, but losing out by around 3,000 listeners to Kiss for the biggest reach.

XFM

It’s the last book for XFM before it becomes Radio X and we see how Moyles is getting on. As is often the case, it’s had a great book! Biggest network figures since 2007 and best London numbers for two years. There’s often a similar peak when presenters are working out their last quarter – does the lack of pressure allow everyone to be a purer version of themselves and become more successful? Discuss.

Manchester

Key 103 still faces quite a bit of trouble. Its figures are similar to last quarter, though Heart North West now has more hours in its TSA – taking Key from commercial number 3 to commercial number 4.

Oxford

Jack (and Jack 2) have been plugging away on their target to being bigger in reach terms than Heart (the old Fox FM) in their TSA. The combined Jack and Jack 2 are now just 4,000 listeners behind Heart – an impressive feat. Whilst being neck and neck isn’t going to worry Global that much, for a local operator it gives them a great angle when talking to local advertisers and pushing up their rates.

Orion

A good result for Orion, quarter on quarter increases for all of their stations and for most, year on year increases too. There’s also a great reach figure for Gem of 476k – up there with its best ever quarters.

More RAJAR:

  • Adam Bowie always gives a good run down of the figures
  • John Rosborough tends to give an update on Northern Ireland’s stations

Moyles and the Clutter Battle

I think it’s impossible to review a new show from the first edition. This morning’s Chris Moyles show was basically a ‘special’. However, there were a few things that I noticed about structure.

The bedrock of commercial music radio is structure. There are a number of things that you have to broadcast in an hour and the flow can be made or broken on how those elements are put together.

Commercial radio is always handicapped by the fact it has to make money. We have to insert interruptions into the programming to pay for it. The trick is to balance how much there is. Not only can you vary how many spot ads there are, you can decide how many sponsored features there are – things like weather, travel, whether there’s paid-for contesting and even if you’re pushing premium rate competitions.

As businesses are generally designed to make money, it can be very tempting to take as much money as you can in the good days. The problem, like a good game of buckaroo, is that if you load too much on, the whole thing collapses and no one wants to listen.

This is connected to the reason that there isn’t much speech on commercial radio, which, generally, is 2-fold:
1. It’s a point of difference to the (relatively) large amount of speech in BBC music radio
2. If we’ve already got 10mins of interruptions an hour from the ads, let’s not add more interruptions in the form of speech

Moyles therefore potentially is a problem as ads+heavy speech on a music station would traditionally generate tune out. Or more accurately, the people who like heavy-speech music radio already listen to the BBC, so heavy speech+ads means we’re on a hiding to nothing from the people who quite like the other type of music radio.

The difference, I think, is about the definition of interruptions. Moyles’ background and heritage means that the audience already knows that he likes to talk. The attraction for Radio X of Moyles is that they’ll be attracting people who understand how he works and what he does.

If you look at fans of the previous XFM Facebook page about how they feel about him, compared to his new show page, you can see the difference in understanding. The old listeners care very much about the amount of music, the new ones, not so much.

Interruptions to a Moyles audience is not about interruptions to the music, it’s interruptions to entertainment. A Moyles listener sees him as a bigger part of the music and speech that make up a show.

Back to structure

Ads aren’t the only interruption to the core being of a show – news, travel, weather, unnecessary sponsored features – these can be interruptions too. Another word for interruptions is clutter. Clutter are the things that get in the way.

What’s great to see with Moyles is how much the clutter’s been minimised.

First no traffic news. Traffic would usually be twice an hour and is likely to run:
Traffic jingle, sponsor credit, traffic bulletin, sponsor credit, traffic network ad. Loads of clutter for a normal breakfast show and here it just doesn’t exist.

Secondly, News. Usually something that’s delivered twice an hour, with Moyles it’s just once an hour. It’s also all delivered by a single voice and one that’s a core part of the team. There didn’t even seem to be an IRN Newslink ad either. Edit: The ‘solus’ Newslink ad, as Sophie Law points out, is actually wrapped into the break with the old “News is next” trick. However, with that and Dom doing it tightly packed and only once an hour it seemed a very clutter-free break.

Ad breaks. In the 7am and 8am hour there were three – 2mins, 1m30sec and 2mins. 5mins30secs an hour is incredibly light. Bauer breakfast shows will be crying on reading how long his run. Sponsor credits run into the breaks – just three times an hour before other commercial messaging.

The only other bit of clutter was a sponsored competition to win tickets to Muse. This was a text when you hear with some premium rate terms (voiced by Toby Anstis) and it was resolved straight after the break. It didn’t overtake the show by being opened and closed quickly.

All that was left was the entertainment – the speech content and the music. There were 4 songs in the 7am hour and 8am hour, 1 in the first half hour and six in the 9am hour. I imagine this is a little lighter than a normal show, but then they did have an exceptional guest in Noel Gallagher.

The entertainment works as it’s high quality, but also because it’s supported by having discarded so much clutter and the show’s fortunate by having shorting ad breaks.

Clearly Moyles is in a privileged position when discussing his show format with his bosses, but to me it really highlights the importance of flow and minimising clutter. If you’re doing breakfast, now really is a perfect time to review clutter and ask if all your show elements are entirely necessary and whether they’re delivered in the most efficient way.

The only structural negatives I felt were:

1. Long comedy production bits. There were a couple of longer than 30sec joke bits of production. I felt if these aren’t REALLY good there’s the danger that these drift into the clutter zone.

2. Talking about ad breaks. Moyles’ listeners are used to there not being ad breaks, when he talks about them, I know they’re coming and therefore feel the content-free discussion is just extending the inevitable. Chris is really lucky his ad breaks are so short, he shouldn’t being adding anything to them by going on about ads.

Overall though, minor quibbles. I’m really happy that Moyles is on commercial radio, I think the show’s going to make a real impact and be a big success. I’m also fascinated to see where the audience comes from.

However, as the show gets popular I imagine it’s inevitable that the demands for greater ad loads will increase as will the desire for more promotions. It’ll be interesting to see how Global balance keeping the existing inventory at a premium versus extending the amount of commercial minutage and whether they can keep doing the excellent job of keeping the clutter at bay.