Thoughts on the BBC Licence Fee

It’s hard not to believe that the Conservative government’s intentions are to encourage the BBC to self-destruct. It’s bright enough to recognise that the BBC has huge support from the public and therefore any overt interference would be a political problem. It’s much easier if the BBC itself seems to get worse, invests less into programming, suffer scandal after scandal and generally annoy it’s licence fee payers so much that it goes ‘pop’.

A quick and easy way to accelerate this it to lop off large parts of its funding whenever it can. In the last settlement the BBC’s licence-fee income was top-sliced for things like local broadband roll-out, S4C and local TV as well as taking on the funding of the BBC World Service. This time around, so far, it’s had to take on £750m of 75pluses licence fees – around 20% of its annual income.

However, there is a small silver lining. Even the Government has realised that the 75+ thing is potentially too devastating (well it would be if inflicted straight away). It’s slightly phased in over three years, the BBC will also see inflation-related licence fee increases and they can ‘charge’ for the licence fee.

The latter isn’t entirely correct. They’re not about to start a Netflix. Instead you will need a licence to watch the BBC iPlayer (due to the rules being old, you don’t need one at the moment).

The 75+ thing is also interesting. It’s up to the BBC whether to charge them or not. They’ve been getting licence fees for free since Gordon Brown introduced it and the assumption is the BBC will think the PR is too bad to start billing them again.

Change

Whilst none of this is ideal for the BBC, the scale of the change means that it can start to do some interesting things to prepare for its own future.

Subscription

If the BBC’s licence fee was replaced by traditional subscription today it would likely destroy it. Even assuming that two-thirds of people paid what they pay now it would be a completely different operation. Why do radio (it can’t be scrambled), news would be hard to support etc. It would spend significantly less on programming and therefore be less attractive to subscribers – a potential vicious circle.

The BBC has always worked hard to make it difficult to turn it into a subscription service. For example, part of the deal in saving ‘On Digital’ and re-birthing it as Freeview was that all the conditional-access (the subscription bits) were stripped out. Anything to make it harder for the government to suddenly subscription-ize.

Unfortunately (well, for the BBC) the rise of IP, Satellite and Cable as large-scale distribution systems means that the free-to-air trick will be harder to pull come the next charter renewal.

A licence-fee unconnected to consumption, and enforceable by prison is a lovely system to have, but I think this is probably the last ten years its going to be enjoyed.

 

The trick now, for the BBC, is to put in place the architecture and infrastructure so that when the change comes, that they are ready to make the best of it.

IP, iPlayer and Online

The ace card the BBC has is its internet-delivered services. The public like the BBC website and iPlayer and more and more people are consuming content on the move on non-TV devices. The public are also used to logging in to internet-services.

The ‘charging for the iPlayer’ new rule is the perfect opportunity to start building the BBC’s future subscription system.

iPlayer and Verify

The stock argument over logins for iPlayer are that people will share passwords a la Netflix and Sky Go. Indeed the fact that a household is licensed will mean they’ll have to issue multiple logins per licence fee. Easy to circumnavigate then?

Well, maybe not.

The Government is currently introducing their own login system – Verify. In fact it’s not its own system. Verify lets you prove your identity by using another service – a service who knows who you are. It’s a bit like when you login to a website with your Facebook credentials. The initial partners for Verify are Barclays, GB Group, Morpho, PayPal, Royal Mail, the Post Office, Experian, Digidentity and Verizon.

The BBC should adopt something similar. Fast.

The identity providers will know where you live, so if you had to auth your licence fee account, the first question it will ask is whether that postal address has a licence fee. In itself, that will stop the vast majority of people adding themselves to someone else’s licence.

I think, if no auth’d BBC login, no iPlayer access (on web, TV, mobile or tablet), no use of the BBC mobile apps and no use of the website. While we’re at it, why not make pay-TV platforms have to auth their subscribers the same way. They definitely know where you live. No licence fee, no access.

Yep – you’ll still be able to watch the TV or listen to the radio free-to-air on Freeview or DAB/FM – but that should be it.

Licence-fee payers should get used to this straight away. Indeed, I think it could easily be spun to prove the BBC is providing more value by keeping those non-licence fee payers away from the lovely BBC content that good citizens pay for.

75-pluses 

I think it will be hard to say no more free licence fees for over 75s. I think it would be the right thing to do. But it would be hard to defend.

But, let’s reduce their access. As an over-75 you get free access to free-to-air TV and radio and maybe (if we’re being generous) access to TV and radio through cable/satellite. What you don’t get is any access to BBC online services, they’re for licence fee payers only. If you pay up you get them. If you don’t, you won’t.

I’d wager that a great deal of the 65 year olds today are as big fans of iPlayer and the BBC website as the rest of the population. They’ll be used to paying the licence fee, they’d still like to get online, they’ll probably carry on paying.

Whilst there’s still the licence fee I want the BBC to create the best system for getting households who use it to pay. There used to be detector vans now we’ve got login screens.

Thin edge of the wedge?

Is all of this the thin edge of the wedge on the route to a subscription-only BBC. Yes, it probably is. However, to my mind, not doing this or something similar is akin to crossing your fingers and merely praying that a legally-enforcable TV licence fee is going to be around in ten years time. If the BBC keeps their head in the sand, come the next charter renewal a sudden shock change, a sudden move to subscription, really will decimate Auntie.

The opportunity now is to build the ultimate subscription system. To learn about consumers consumption and to ensure that when an element of subscription is introduced, that the BBC is ready to convert licence fee payers to subscribers and to continue to make outstanding programmes.

The other benefit of having this direct relationship with paying customers is in the future that they will no longer have to be at the mercy of the Government and commercial media that does everything it can to ensure it won’t exist.

Let the iPlayer set them free.

Evans and Grimmy on the Telly

Lots of telly news for radio folk as Radio 2 Breakfast host Chris Evans takes the helm of Top Gear whilst Radio 1’s breakfast boy Nick Grimshaw joins the judging panel of the X Factor. But what does it mean for their jobs on the wireless?

Personally, I think it’s good news. One of the main things I’ve been banging on about is that in a crowded media world the biggest challenge to establish programmes and stations is how you drive awareness.

“If you build it, they will come” is bullshit. Doing a great job on-air isn’t enough to ensure success any more. Presenters need to ensure their content and personality transcends the show and station. Great content, word of mouth and advertising can definitely help do the job – but there’s a million other ways to do get the message out – newspaper columns, social media, YouTube or getting on a big TV show.

Grimmy

Three years in, Grimmy has found it hard to make his mark on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. For me, it’s a combination of production issues, coaching and lack of promotion. I still think, fundamentally though, he was the right choice. It’s also much easier to fix content than personality. Given the right material and promotion he could totally deliver.

X Factor is the perfect place to communicate his personality, massively raise his level of fame and provide lots of reasons for new, target listeners to sample the show. Being on the inside of the biggest pop culture programme for his radio show’s core demo puts Nick in an amazing position. The challenge is now to ensure that the other bits of the show deliver the wow that turns these samplers into regular listeners.

I think there’s also a brilliant opportunity to make it a more family-friendly programme. If you want 15 year olds to listen to the radio, it helps if the Mums are on-side as they’re the ones tuning in in the kitchen and car. If Mum’s more comfortable listening after spending her Saturday nights with him on the sofa, that will only turn out to be a good thing.

There is, of course, a knock-on effect of putting the Radio 1 Breakfast host on the X Factor – and that’s whether commercial radio will stop talking about X Factor. But you know what? I’d happily swap Global talking about the show to get R1 talking about it everyday. Easy.

Chris Evans

Evans is in a very different situation. He presents the biggest radio show in Europe with nearly 10million people in the UK tuning in each week. He does not have an awareness problem.

Whilst TFI’s excellent ratings were partly down to people’s fondness for the format, the extensive cross-promotion on Radio 2 (and popping up on Radio 1 and 6Music to talk about it as well) didn’t do it any harm. You see kids, radio advertising does work! Though it would have been nice if Channel 4 had paid to advertise on commercial radio rather getting it for free on the BBC. Anyway, I digress…

The BBC has been in a terrible state over Top Gear. How do you manage a Globally-successful brand when the core presenter is radioactive in the UK. Even with the awful things Jeremy Clarkson did, the show still had huge goodwill from viewers. High production values, humour and three likeable presenters made it look like it would be impossible for the BBC to reboot.

I think with the appointment of Evans the balance of power has shifted away from the three ex-presenters back to the BBC. Chris is a popular choice but has also, cleverly, had the endorsement of the old guard. Getting their blessing massively helps the show move on. Today, on the One Show, Evans announced that they’re having open auditions for his co-hosts. Another masterstroke. They will, of course, pick who they want, but tipping it towards being “the people’s show” is a canny move. I’m sure they won’t be shy to mention that Hammond and May were both appointed through auditions too.

As well as losing the three hosts, they also lost the key producer – Andy Wilman. Bringing in Evans as Presenter and Exec Producer also gives them an entertainment-genius to provide creative renewal and a new leader for a group of people no doubt significantly demoralised.

As the success of Evans’ TFI promotion shows, the new Top Gear will also have a ready-made platform to reach the right demographic every morning.

Will his new TV duties affect the radio show? It shouldn’t, but that’s not to say it won’t. At the Evans level, TV and radio are team sports. If you are supported by the right people it should be fine. Where I think it’s harder is that Top Gear requires lots of international work. Whilst Evans does have nine weeks of holiday a year, it’s going to be hard work to combine the two jobs.

One person to perhaps look at though is Ryan Seacrest in the US. He does successful local and national radio shows alongside American Idol and a lot of TV projects (he produces the Kardashians). To achieve this, his show literally follows him around the world. When he’s doing Idol auditions in Wichita, the radio show are there, pop up studio and all. He’s created a machine to support what he does. There’s no reason Evans can’t do the same.

Forget About Dre? What Beats1 Means for Radio

I’m excited about Beats1. A radio station with great presenter and production talent, well-funded with a large marketing budget and no end of ambition – to be a truly global radio station with a focus on new music.

I love radio. The world loves radio. Here in the UK 90% of the population listen to it every week. Lots of what it does is cool, but we, as the radio industry, don’t make it seem as cool as it is. We’re lucky that we have the BBC as it makes great radio programmes (with a ridiculous budget) and it forces commercial radio to compete.

Commercial radio without strong competition ends up being a missed opportunity. Just look at most American radio output.

Beats1 will help radio seem contemporary and relevant. Good luck to them.

I’m definitely not worried about them.

Over the past ten years hundreds of people have sat opposite me wherever I’ve worked, wanting to run a new radio station. Rich, poor, big, small, everyone wants a radio station. They’ve also all got an idea that’s brilliant! That’s a gap in the market! That will show the big boys a thing or two.

They generally never happen or shortly go bust.

That’s because to be a successful radio station is really difficult. They all forget that the easiest thing is making the content, the hard part is getting people to listen. Someone has to choose to give up the thing they listen to at the moment and pick something else.

If I asked you what it would take to make you stop listening to your current breakfast show, what would you say? Evans, Today, Grimmy – what would make you stop and turn over?

But Beats1 is different to lots of those wannabe radio stations. Firstly, audience size or commercial revenue is not their aim. Yeah, it’s nice to have, but it’s not why they exist. They’ve also got money and marketing  – they can do whatever they like.

Their arrival doesn’t scare me. I’m still much happier in the radio business than in the streaming music business that’s for sure.

Streaming music like Spotify, Rdio, Beats, Tidal are in an odd position. The rise in competition and the money they pay the music industry means their business has, already, been entirely commoditised. The repertoire across the services is pretty much the same and the functionality is the same too (there was little technical wow in Apple Music). The price is also pretty much the same. Operators want to cut prices/offer different deals, but are being stymied by the record companies who are trying to keep value high. The only thing left to compete on is content and curation and then having enough money to spend on marketing to tell people about it.

Beats1,  the curated music channels and playlists, the music videos and the artist content through Connect are designed to be the layer that makes Apple Music more interesting than Spotify and the rest. Having a better content layer and music service on a device that you control (through iOS) and can bend to your will (Android) is also very handy too.

The other thing Apple are good at is marketing. Their Beats1 poster budget in London is likely to be be bigger than Spotify’s global marketing spend. Also, they’re clever in knowing that content as marketing works.

Beats1 will be free (and I imagine ad-free). It has great DJs and will have lots of music exclusives. A friend was telling me the artists that they’re trying to sign up to become DJs – it’s going to be a station full of famous faces. And more than just the three they’ve announced.

By using Beats1 as the hero, it will encourage lots of people into Apple Music. Beats1 is the equivalent of the ‘ad funded’ version of Spotify. It’s just ‘the ads’ are going to be the encouragement to sign up to Apple Music.

Will Beats1 be a game changer for ‘traditional’ radio. No.

I imagine it’s going to be an accessible specialist music service. Your ILR listener is unlikely to abandon their home station for it. The more specialist listeners of R1, XFM, 6Music and low hours radio rejectors are probably the core audience. People who like Greg James and the latest Pitbull single? Probably not. Will it be a truly global radio station, or will it end up tilting towards the US market? I imagine (even with the work of some fine people pushing the other way) it probably will.

If Apple really wanted to “do radio” they’d have hired the top 50 radio DJs in the world. Then I’d be scared.

This isn’t about radio – this is about music streaming. It’s a content and marketing play to make up for lost time and the race to sign up as many people to spending a tenner a month.

Beats1 – welcome to the radio industry!

RAJAR Q1/2015

60 and 40.

To me this RAJAR is all about what the 60 and 40 are doing to existing radio stations. Established stations are seeing the sand underneath them shift and change. It’s because of the 60 and 40

60% of radio listeners listen to some form of digital radio each week. This digital listening now accounts for nearly 40% of all radio consumed in the country.

That means a large proportion of the UK are using different devices to consume audio. This is making them consume more radio stations and change their old habits.

It’s not about which platform is best, it’s about technology enabling consumers to have a better listening experience. They are using everything at their finger tips, whether rotary dial, touchscreen or mouse to give them something a little more than they had in the past. To better scratch an itch. Or even find a new radio home.

Existing stations are definitely not going away, but they’re changing or having change thrust upon them. Oh, and that’s even before we think about whether their programming is right and they’re firing on all cylinders.

London

In London, Kiss has maintained much of its audience growth with reach at 1,883 (vs 1,911 in Q4) and share at 4.6% (vs 4.8%). It’s also kept ahead of Capital which has had a stinker of a book, indeed it’s worst share ever at 3.8%

Kiss is now bigger at Breakfast whether you look at their own breakfast time-slot (6am to 9am) or Capital’s (6am to 10am)

Magic leads London’s commercial stations with a 4.9% share, LBC at 2 with 4.7%, Heart at 3 with 4.7%, Kiss are 4th with 4.6% and Capital 5th at 3.8%. A brilliant book for the yo-yoing in London Absolute Radio who are 6th with a 3.2% share.

In Global’s stable, Smooth has fallen back a little to 627k reach. Up year on year, but down on the last three books (781, 742, 760). A poor hours result for them too at 3,709m.

Capital Xtra still hasn’t found an audience in the capital, sliding further to 310k reach and its sister station XFM down to a disappointing 362k.

In the capital, digital-only station 6Music’a pulling in 612k reach and in the capital alone, Kisstory’s at 453k. AM and DAB’s Gold’s at 262k whilst digital-only Absolute 80s is nipping at their heals at 255k.

National

It’s the same story nationally. With digital-only stations pulling in better numbers than those that have a dual analogue and digital footprint.

The XFM network’s slumped to 884k reach, now beaten by digital-only Kerrang at 919k and now way behind 6Music’s 2,064m.

The rumours of taking the spectrum that XFM sits on and combining it with Moyles suddenly seems a very valid idea, whether or not they still continue to call it XFM.

Absolute 80s 1.4m reach plays against Gold’s 1.0m and 1Xtra 838k is neck and neck with Capital Xtra’s 840k.

This is the first book measuring Magic nationwide as it’s now on DAB across the UK and it seems to have been great for them – pulling in 3.6m across the country. If we take away their London reach of 1.9m, that leaves them with 1.7m tuning in digitally outside the capital – an amazing success in a single quarter.

If we look at the Kiss reach in its FM areas it’s about 2.7m, take it away from the UK figure of 4.9m – that’s 2.9m people listening to the brand on digital. Again – a stunning result. It’s sister station Kisstory continues to perform well with 1.1m listeners.

Bauer’s Kiss network (the Kisses, Kisstory, Kiss Fresh and, oddly, Heat and Kerrang) total 6.1m listeners compared to the Capital network’s 7m. It’s amazing to think that Bauer can get to that figure without the need for anywhere as many FM stations as Capital and just use digital capacity instead.

With the successes the digital-only stations are making – what does it mean for the valuation of FM licences? Whilst obviously nice to have, they are clearly no longer essential to generating large audiences.

Radio 1 will be disappointed as its reach drops below the psychological 10m mark to 9.69m – it’s lowest reach in a decade. It’s also now at, what I think, is its lowest share ever – 6.4%. Sadly it hasn’t had much of an effect on it’s average age either, which remains at 34.

Local Radio

There’s double-digital drops in reach and hours for much of Bauer’s 2 network. With results like Metro 2 (hours down 44%), Key 2 (hours down 59%), Radio City 2 (hours down 42%), it’s going to be a while before the local network sell of 1, 2 and 3 will help relieve the inventory pressure of their main heritage FM station. Those mammoth Bauer ad-breaks won’t be going anywhere soon.

Capital South Wales continues to be the black sheep of that family, with hours now at 827k – a third of what they were in the Red Dragon years.

Pressure

Radio stations seem to fall into three groups now. Firstly there’s the stations that are doing nothing. They remain on AM and FM with little investment into anything digital (The Breeze, Touch FM). There’s then the stations that are replicating their existing brand on some digital platforms (XFM, Key 2). And then there’s those who are taking what they’re doing and pushing it out to more places and on more platforms (Kiss, Magic, LBC).

The third group are on the offence and they’re using the changes in listener behaviour to eat away at the audience the other two groups have. Doing nothing means that you have to work harder and be more successful in a shrinking analogue pond and doing just a bit? Well, I’m not sure it’s going to be enough either.

 

RAJAR Q4/2014

Capital is no longer London’s Number 1 Hit Music Station.

Well done to Andy Roberts from Kiss who has finally managed to beat Capital on reach, hours and share.

Kiss has often been number one for different demos and every so often for hours, but looking at the past ten years it has beaten it on reach only once. This quarter though its the first time they’ve beaten it on both measures (1,911 vs 1,869 in reach and 9,965m vs 8,509m in hours). RAJAR bonuses all round!

The trick of course is whether it can be a sustained or if it’s just a one off.

Capital

I’m a CHR fan. I love tight, music-driven radio. And though I’m out of the demo, I hope that I can still hear through the ears of a young ‘un. I think one of the issues Capital faces is that the product’s just a bit dull.

Historically being tight makes CHR a winner. I think that’s changing. With youth audiences we have cleared out a lot of listeners who just want the hits to Spotify/Music TV et al. I think this leaves us with a bunch of people who don’t mind a little non-music entertainment and that’s where Kiss is winning. It’s still tight but at least there’s some personality.

Case in point is poor Marvin off of JLS. He’s a good signing for Capital. He’s an ex-popstar, he’s married to a popstar and he presents the biggest show on Saturday nights with The Voice. He’s mates with the stars (or could appear to be) but you would never know any of this by listening to his show.

I had it on the other week and it was such a missed opportunity, have a listen below. He spoke for less than 6minutes over three hours. I think he jocks it well, but there’s just nothing there. The Hits, Kiss and R1 are streets ahead.

That’s not to say Global have lost their touch. Smooth and Heart are doing storming business.

Heart

As I mentioned last time round, Heart London’s bad book was probably more down to Summer holidays than anything else. Well, whatever it was, Heart’s now gone number 1 in London for share – with a stonking 6.3%.

Looking at the new Hearts around the country (the old ex-Real Radios) they’re doing incredibly well too. Heart North East’s got the best reach and hours for three years, Heart North West’s got the best reach for 3 years and best hours for 5 and Heart Yorkshire’s got the best reach for at least 10 years.

The overall transition is a great success resulting in a best ever reach and hours for the network.

Smooth

Smooth’s not too shabby either. In London Smooth was hovering in the 400s for reach, it’s now had three books in a row in the 700s. It’s getting solid 2 shares since the re-launch, something it previously only managed back in Q2/2006. The North West did well under the old regime, but under the new it’s gone up a gear, delivering 1.1m reach and 8.1m hours.

The network as a whole has hit an all time record reach at 4.7m people and record hours of 38.5m

Digital

Digital Radio UK have sent me their latest update on digital radio. Lots of positives:

  • DAB listening share has increased by 6% year on year (3% quarter on quarter) and now represents over a quarter of all radio listening (25.2%) and over 30% in home (30.3%).
  • DAB listening in car grew by 29% year on year and total digital reach in car is now 7.6 million people per week.
  • 48.9% of the population or 26 million adults now have access to a DAB digital radio, up 7% year on year.
  • Analogue radio listening is at its lowest ever level; 56.2% nationally and below 50% in London and the North West regions.
  • Digital radio listening in home (46.2%) has overtaken analogue listening (45.6%) for the first time.
  • Over half of the population (52%) or nearly 28 million people now listen to radio on a digital platform every week.

I think in-home listening being majority digital is a big shift. If you’re not on DAB your available audience is just shrinking so fast its probably impossible to counter.

We’ve also definitely passed ‘peak digital TV’ it’s dropping quite significantly now, down 11% year on year.

I also think internet radio listening is massively disappointing. It’s increased at the same rate as DAB – 6%, but from a much lower base. This is at a time when listening to the radio through the internet has never been more accessible – high broadband penetration, 3G and 4G, smartphones, apps, infinite choice, higher quality – but it’s just not something that’s capturing people’s imagination. I don’t know why this is.

Internet radio and specifically app based listening gets the most platform plugs on any radio station and especially on station websites. But it’s not generating the explosion you would expect. As an industry, we should be lucky that we’re not relying on internet radio to be our only future. If we were we’d be stuffed!

It’s not just here in the UK. In the US, growth of internet streaming for regular radio stations has massively slowed down too. Over there, it’s the pure-plays like Pandora that are still seeing good growth. We’re lucky that we don’t have those sorts of competitors over here, if we did I think we’d be over the moon with our 6% growth.

If you want me to mention your RAJAR successes make sure you send me your press release.

Some other RAJAR thoughts:

Bidding for the Next National Multiplex

We’ve just announced our involvement in bidding for the new national digital radio multiplex. I wanted to write a little history of how we got there. There’s lots of people involved in the application – this is just my personal take, it’s not the corporate line.

I’m very lucky to do the job I do. I’m a fan of radio and digital media and through our company, Folder Media, I’m able to explore many different ideas. We’re a small team but everyone has lots of different skills which means we can make a decent go at the things we put out minds to.

When we set up Folder it was to bid for some local digital radio multiplexes. It’s one of the things that we previously did for GWR/GCap. We were pretty good at it. We learned to combine the benefits of being part of a big group, creative ideas for digital radio and relationships with different organisations into winning bids. We were successful, but not incredibly happy. We thought that there were lots of new opportunities out there but as part of a big company we couldn’t do exactly what we wanted. We decided to therefore have a go at this bidding business on our own.

At that point (2007) DAB was going in the right direction, but not everyone was involved. The costs were too high for the smaller radio groups. We created MuxCo as a vehicle where the smaller radio groups were able to get involved, knowing that the larger groups would begrudgingly tag along. We were also keen to do transmission and management in a different way so we worked with National Grid Wireless, the competitor to NTL/Arqiva. They were hungry for the business, as were we!

So, how did it go? Well, we won 9 of the 13 multiplexes we went for, though our transmission partner changed to Arqiva as they had bought National Grid Wireless. But we had to pause our launches a little as the BBC and Commercial Radio were only keen to commit to roll-out when there was some policy statements and funding from the Government.

In the meantime we had the opportunity to acquire Fun Radio from Global who were keen to reduce their portfolio of radio stations. Initially we saw it as a shop window – the ability to run a radio station in a different way to demonstrate our skills to consultancy clients and also potential multiplex clients. A strange thing happened though. The station kept building and building.

I’ve learned more about the modern media world through Fun Kids than anything else I’ve ever done. We’re over the moon that it’s able to support itself whilst expanding each year. It really is a truly multi-platform business. The broadcast radio side is the business’s bedrock for audience and revenue. It’s supplemented by the streaming and the website (along with YouTube and Podcasting). In fact the online output is now a key product in its own right as we do over a million page views a month and hundreds of thousands of audio downloads and video plays.

Its main success however comes from DAB Digital Radio. Without it there’s absolutely no way it would still be in existence. Our London coverage and the high degree of DAB take up means we have a business of a certain scale that can be supported by advertisers.

It’s one of the reason I’m such a digital radio fan. I’ve seen first hand how a new radio product can delight listeners whilst creating a sustainable business for a new entrant. It takes a lot of work too of course. And a great deal of luck. But it’s all built on DAB.

It’s also why, with MuxCo now on-air in eight of our nine multiplex areas, that I’m proud we’re able to work out ways to broadcast a whole cross-section of stations. We have new entrants like Trash Can Radio, community stations like Pulse in Somerset, smaller commercial stations like Sunshine Radio, the BBC locals as well as stations like Heart, Smooth and Capital from big groups like Global.

Providing a platform for a variety of stations at a local level is great, but we’ve also been keen to see if it’s something that can do on a national level too. As such we’ve spent the last two years looking at different ways of doing a national multiplex and earlier today our work (and the work of many others) was able to see the light of day.

DAB is in good shape at the moment. 18million people listen to it each week and it accounts for around 25% of all listening. I think it’s important for the radio industry that DAB’s successful because the stations it provides, the ease of tuning and interference free reception means people get to like radio more. It helps the sector by giving listeners a good experience of our medium – it literally makes them happier customers. It also generates the scale of listening that means companies are able to invest in content – presenters, shows etc.

I think it’s great that those stations are then on DAB, Digital TV and the Internet. Really I don’t mind how people tune in – a pair of ears is a pair of ears – but I know that if they weren’t on DAB, the lack of scale DTV and the Internet have means none of them, that’s none of them, would be able to afford any real investment in programming and that would mean a poorer experience for listeners, and for radio as a medium.

The 18m people who listen digitally do so because it offers them a benefit – it might be a better radio, it might be more choice. That’s 18m people who would be less satisfied if it wasn’t there. I’m keen that we grow that 18m further. I want more listeners to get more enjoyment out of the radio with more things that are relevant to them.

The share of listening DAB gets (25%) is also a good measure. The more time people spend with their digital stations is a good proxy for satisfaction. If it stays flat it just means the new stations are competing with other. If it grows it means that more people have greater engagement.

We know that certain stations attract people to digital radio. 6Music, Planet Rock etc provide new reasons to tune in. Content-led reasons. I think many of the ‘Extra’ stations and spin-offs play to the established crowd, they’re mainly good for people who understand them and are already digital listeners. I know Smooth Extra will add more hours to Global Radio’s group total but is it distinctive enough to bring new people to digital radio?

It’s something that’s driven a lot of our thinking in the Listen2Digital bid. We’re going to broadcast 18 radio stations. Which is a lot. We’ve tried to create a line-up that has some mainstream formats and some specialist formats. The mainstream formats should provide alternatives to existing stations with solid programming teams and a varied output – definitely not jukeboxes. Our specialist stations are there to scratch individual itches. Whether it’s the Christian and Asian stations or RTE and Gaydio, we think these are stations that speak to significant audiences who rarely have a radio home that reflects their community and culture. Other specialist stations speak to particular music fans whether that’s jazz or country.

From a Folder Media point of view we’re excited that our two radio brands – Fun Kids and Upload Radio – will have a national home. The way that we’ve been able to set up Listen2Digital has created a cost-structure that allows us to broadcast these stations nationally. Up until now we would not have been able to do that – and stay solvent! I know that this structure has enabled many other stations on our bid to do the same.

Part of the reason we’ve been able to keep the costs down is that we’re predominantly using a different transmission company. Rather than using Arqiva we’re opting for Babcock International. They’re a huge engineering company who do a massive amount of broadcasting, looking after much of the military’s communications in the UK and also broadcasting the BBC World Service to hundreds of millions of listeners around the world. However, we’re unable to do it all without Arqiva, we’ll still be broadcasting the multiplex from their big sites.

I’m particularly excited that we’re broadcasting four stations in the new flavour of DAB, DAB+. From our Fun Kids DAB+ trial earlier in the year we discovered a large audience that was able to pick the station up on in-car radios as well as many home sets. It made us realise that we’re entering a phase where the number of DAB+ receivers starts to make commercial sense for broadcasters. But these things are always chicken and egg – you just need to get going with it! We’ve therefore come up with a way to support four stations in DAB+ in the early days to break that chicken and egg cycle. They’re also specialist stations that can really shout about what you need to receive their services in DAB+ – Gaydio, Chris Country and RTE Radio 1. Oh, and Upload Radio.

Upload Radio has been a big project for the Folder Media team. We’ve been building a system that will let anyone create a programme, buy a one hour slot, and have their show broadcast on DAB digital radio, online and mobile with listen again for 30 days. The local version is going to roll out later this year and then hopefully it will be nationwide on DAB+ if we win this bid.

It would be great to be able to paint our competitor for D2 as rubbish and terrible. But that’s not the case. We work closely with people at Bauer, UTV and Arqiva all the time. They’re diligent, committed and have some great ideas. If they win the multiplex their line-up will be a fine addition to digital radio in the UK.

However, we’re still pleased that we’ve done something different. We think there’ll be value for the whole radio industry in having these new stations from our new operators. DAB has great scale, there’s never been a better opportunity for new stations to make a success of it. The fact they’re not from big radio groups and that success is so important for them will mean they will work harder and shout louder to ensure their businesses do well. I’m as excited about their enthusiasm as I am about their radio stations.

I also think it’s time that a new multiplex operator is added to the fray. At the moment if you want to broadcast nationwide you have a couple of options. Option 1 you can broadcast on Digital One – which is owned by Arqiva. Option 2 is you can broadcast to a selection of local multiplexes. Right now Arqiva, UTV and Bauer control over 80% of the local multiplexes in the UK and they have a shareholding in all but 2! I don’t think it makes much sense to add as Option 3 – Broadcast though Sound Digital (owned by Arqiva, UTV and Bauer).

I am, however, clearly very very biased.

What I would ask you to do is to read both the bids, make up your own mind about which is best and why, and then perhaps drop Ofcom a line to tell them. This is our public spectrum, we all should have a say in what happens to it and where it goes.

My multiplex colleague, David Lloyd, talks here about what taking Gem national means for them.

Suggestions For Steve Penk

According to a couple of articles on Radio Today, it seems Steve Penk can’t seem to find anything on commercial radio to listen to.  He says “Who the hell wants to hear the same few songs played over and over again by some boring bastard with nothing more than a nice voice?” and “Yes there are a few, and I do mean very few shining lights dotted around commercial radio (Bam Bam, Robin Banks, Christian O’Connell, Geoff Lloyd) but there’s nowhere near enough.”

Therefore, off the top of my head, I’ve listed a few commercial radio presenters below for him to check out. As always, it’s personal opinion, but I quite like them.

Update: On Twitter, Steve’s re-affirmed it’s music radio, so I’ve altered the ordering:

Music-radio types:

Pete Donaldson, Frank Skinner, Howard Goodall, Alex James, Charlotte Green,  Jamie & Emma, JK & Lucy, Max, Tim Westwood, Jon Homes, Tim Cocker, John Kennedy, Rickie, Melvin and Charlie, Josh Widdicombe,  JD, Angie Greaves, Robin Galloway, Stephanie Hirst, Pete Price, James Barr, Steve & Karen, Adam Wilbourn, Sam & Amy and Boogie.

Speechy types:

Ian Wright, Alan Brazil, Colin Murray, Hawksby & Jacobs, Jonny Vaughan (though great at music radio too), Nick Ferrari, James O’Brien,

This isn’t exhaustive, it’s just my opinion from people I’ve heard, but I’m sure there are lots of others. Leave one in the comments if there’s someone you really like. #helpsteve

Absolute Radio’s Website and Radio’s Business Model

Absolute Radio have created a lovely new website at absoluteradio.co.uk. The design is great, but there also seems more of a focus on UX – user experience – delivering a website that concentrates on doing the things that listeners want, rather than what the radio station wants. It works very well on mobile and is probably the best designed radio station website in the UK.

The most obvious part of this is the prominence of the ‘Listen Live’ button. It’s big and in front of you when you visit the site. It’s there because that’s the thing that the vast majority of users want to do. If you look at the stats of pretty much any radio station website, the Player is either the number 1 (or number 2 to homepage) visited page. Often Home and Player’s use is a magnitude ahead of anything else.

The other thing that’s noticeable is that there’s no banner ads – no Leaderboards, Skyscraper’s MPU’s cluttering up the pages, the focus of pretty much the entire site is Absolute-radio related. That’s not to say there isn’t commercial branding at all. Sponsorships, like Wickes’ of the breakfast show have presence and the competitions are, I imagine, all paid for too. What there isn’t is run-of-site (ROS) ads that are usually there to generate incremental revenue.

Most websites that run proper online web banner campaigns are paid on a CPM ‘cost per mille’ basis on views. So, let’s say an advertiser says they’ll pay you £5 for the display of 1,000 banners. This is quite easy to serve, you put up the code, the banners are delivered and the cash rolls in based how many you show. Therefore to increase the money you can do two things – 1. Increase the number of adverts you have on each page; and 2. Increase the number of pages that are viewed.

You’ll often see a minimum of three ad units on a website, this means that’s you’ll make three times a much money – as remember you’re paid per 1,000 views of the ad.

Increasing the number of pages a user views is tougher. The most sensible way to do this is to create compelling content that people want to consume and good navigation for them to find it. Unfortunately that’s very difficult to do. Instead it’s much easier to split articles into two (or more) pages, have image galleries where each picture is on a new page, launch multi-page quizzes and do othe tricks that will help you serve more pages (and ads) and therefore make more money.

Often revenue is more important than user experience and therefore the tail somewhat wags the dog. However, according to a discussion James Cridland had with the Absolute team, they came to the conclusion that with banner revenues under pressure and delivering less money per view, it had started to reach the point whether the benefits did not outweigh the cost (to users). When they removed the banners there was no longer the need to generate additional pageviews at any cost, so they can concentrate on building a site based on what users want.

For revenue generation they’ve doubled down on supporting existing show sponsorship and the in-stream audio advertising their online players allows them to sell. With their player they encourage users to login. This means they have demographic and location details so they can deliver more targeted ads. If someone wants to just advertise to 25 year old men in Manchester they can pay a premium and Absolute’s system will deliver that.

Providing there’s the demand from advertisers the yield they can get from these tailored ads should be greater than the one size fits all nature of traditional radio commercials. I understand that traditional broadcast radio ads may generate £1.20 per thousand impacts of an advert, but targeted in-stream may generate £5 to £10 per thousand impacts. A significant premium.

Therefore why bother with banner ads. Just concentrate on making listening easier, increase the amount, and sell your premium targeted ads.

The thing that worries me about this approach is that Absolute is also doubling-down on the radio model, to the detriment of everything else.

As you navigate the rest of the website, other than finding out who’s on which of their stations, what music they played and the opportunity to enter competitions there’s pretty much nothing else there.

Since the change from Virgin Radio, Absolute have managed to make their main radio station have a decent brand with some actual radio content – presenters who have something to say, comedy and football. They’ve also extended it by launching the successful decades spin-off stations. The end result has been increased hours for the group. Now they’re owned by Bauer, with a large national sales team behind them they can better monetise those hours. In the past, when they were a stand-alone operator they weren’t getting a fair share of the money for those hours, now with Bauer they’re starting to do that.

It’s one of the problems with radio’s core model. Global and Bauer have created ‘share deals’ with most of the big advertising agencies. The ad agencies get a good price in exchange for agreeing to give a bigger share of their radio money to the big groups. So, Global and Bauer may have 80% of commercial radio’s hours but they do a deal to get 90% of the money.

There’s a fixed amount of money to go round, there’s now more stations and you have to work harder to get it. Other than significantly growing your hours it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to grow your traditional radio revenue that much. That’s why there’s more of a focus from radio stations on sponsorship, branded content and online – this is revenue that doesn’t come out of the share deals pot.

Also, the in-stream advertising money’s coming out of a different pot too. It’s coming from the sexy ‘digital’ pot that agencies are using to buy ads on Spotify or other websites. It’s shiny and new, so it costs more and publishers/radio stations can make more money.

To me though, the problem is that in-stream will eventually replicate the share model. Every radio station will run in-stream ads, that combined with Spotify, iTunes Radio and other streaming services will generate a fixed amount of supply and you’ll then get your share of the money. Fundamentally, it’s the same business radio’s always been in, we’ve now just got some more competitors.

I’ve always been of the view that the future for radio stations is to grow their footprint by increasing the number of touch-points they have with their users. As a business, the more time consumers can spend with our products, across as many platforms as possible, the better chance we have of growing our businesses. This could be websites, TV channels, magazines, live events, mobile apps, whatever.

If you don’t do this you’ll be left with a radio station that will find it harder and harder to increase its hours (there’s just more competition) and you’ll make less money from those hours (national CPTs are not going up). To maintain profit margins you reorganise the business, which generally means less marketing, less content and less people. This then has a knock-on affect to revenue and then you’re in a bit of a spiral.

Of course, expanding in other areas is not the easiest thing in the world for radio stations to do. Changing the relationship you have with listeners from a passive to active, encouraging them to do more with you is tough. Over time we’ve also trained our listeners of what to expect from us – music driven radio stations and ads.

The reason that the Listen Live button is the most popular user journey is that’s the main thing we offer consumers – a radio station. Well, of course we’re really good at that! We’ve been doing it for 40 years! Surely the real challenge is growing an expanding the things that consumers come to us for.

To me, Absolute removing most of the content from their website and putting the Listen live button front and centre is actually a statement that they’re giving in. It’s saying, you know what, we’re unable to broaden our relationship with listeners, we’re just going to make it easier to give them exactly what they expect and we’ll concentrate on trying to monetise that.

What’s actually surprising is that the entire commercial radio business is built on the idea we can get consumers to do something new – through radio advertising! Something that all the research shows that works – but that we’re unable to use this relationship with consumers to sell our own products and get them to do something that we want them to.

Partly it’s because as a content business we haven’t invested enough money into non-radio things. We’ve failed to use our scale and relationships to create a compelling website, or mobile property, or video series. We make some efforts at it but it’s an add-on. How many people work on your website vs work on the on-air output?

I think it’s interesting that the people who are making more of a go of it are those who do not have the analogue radio baggage. Team Rock seemingly want to be a rock content business that connects with consumers online, through magazine and on the radio. They’re building a content business that radio’s a part of. Premier Christian Radio and UCB have realised that one of the core models – direct debit donation – is best served by being on all platforms for their fans. Even at Bauer, Heat Radio seems to be something that his growing as a radio station but also supporting the brand. The brand’s also providing content and cross-promotion.

For our children’s brand, Fun Kids, we know that not all of our consumers listen to the radio station. The use of the website, the YouTube videos, the podcasts have as much value as people tuning in. To be honest, I’m much happier that the revenue we generate is spread across all the platforms than just sitting in one. We can also use all of these touch points to create and market new products as the business develops. I definitely don’t want our consumers to just think of us as a radio station or that our website is just a Listen Live button. There definitely wouldn’t be any fun in that.

Funding Radio

I like radio. You may have noticed.

I like it because a small number of people can put effort into something that a lot of people can then hear.

Clearly the content has to be good, it needs to be relevant to a group of people and they then all need to know about it, but still… it’s something that’s very achievable.

I also like ‘digital’. You may have noticed.

Digital has democratised most things that it’s touched. A great deal of old media’s success came from big barriers to entry. You couldn’t be on television unless they agreed. Or newspapers. Or radio.

With digital, distribution becomes much easier. Yes, you’re now competing with the world, but digital’s also democratised marketing. Twitter, blogs, email has allowed a new generation of media (both amateur and professional) to flourish.

Fun Kids, our digital radio station, can only exist because a digital platform, for us mainly DAB (but also the internet) allows us to reach a large number of people. Also, handily, it’s much easier (and cheaper) to acquire digital space than it would an FM licence. To be honest, if I had and FM licence I wouldn’t put a kids format on it, I’d probably so something more mainstream.

Digital has also meant that content creation is quicker, cheaper and faster and allows us to make audio, video and web content as well as market it, all at a fraction of the traditional cost. In other words we need less money to be able to create something brilliant that about 300k kids consume. Plus we get to pay people (some) money too.

Podcasts

Similar to digital radio, podcasting has grown steadily over the past ten years. It’s definitely democratised the production, for want of a better word, radio shows.

A good idea, some skill, some marketing and some luck means that there’s been a flood of new entrants. Many of which have created new types of radio format (see Serial).

The funding of these is as variable as the content. Podcasting is generally free at the point of use. So people have to be more creative. There’s been tip jars, pay-for specials, attempts at subscription as well as advertising and sponsorship.

In the US quite a few podcasts have been crowdfunded using Kickstarter. In the UK, er, not so much.

I think fundamentally we’re less used to paying for audio content than they are in the States. The concept of pledging is also deeply lodged in the up-market psyche of NPR listeners who hear the regular pledge drives. Here, we pay for the BBC and then forget about it, and then they make excellent speech radio programmes. We’re not used to paying for quality radio, we just get it for free. Therefore when a podcast, even one we really like, pops up, as we get it for free I think we’re more reluctant to put our hands in our pockets.

This is why its so pleasing to see one of our own home-grown podcasters – Helen Zaltzman – be part of a successful crowdfunding drive.

Radiotopia is a podcast network that has great, unique podcasts. It’s a bit of a collective of podcasters and they’ve just raised $250k to support the shows for another year. Their Kickstarter is still going and if they hit a stretch goal of $400k it will allow them to fund some new shows, including one from Helen.

Helen writes about the process here.

I think if you’re a fan of radio it’s worth supporting. Even if you’re not, at the moment, a consumer of those shows.

I think radio is far more than just what’s on Capital or Radio 4. It’s about being a medium that has an amazing relationship with listeners. And there should always be more of it. Whether that’s commercial FM, community radio, DAB stations, podcasts or something else. The more radio there is and the more it’s enjoyed the better it is for all of us.

I also think it’s important that there are lots of different ways for people to get paid to do it.  After all, people who aren’t hungry make better radio programmes!

YouTube, Moyles and Radio

Peter Robinson picked up on Chris Moyles’ YouTube channel last week, giving it a not entirely positive review. However, it was definitely more positive than the ripped off versions that the Mail and Mirror then followed up with.

The crux of the feedback is “Oh the mighty have fallen, he used to have 8million listeners and now he’s only got 10,000 subscribers”. I think fundamentally they have all missed the point and we should be celebrating what Moyles is doing rather than slagging it off.

Views & Subscribers

A lot of people’s understanding of YouTube is watching viral content, slip ups, cute animals or rips of performances/TV show segments. These, because they are viral hits, tend to have large numbers of views. What you’re watching is the hits.  But that is very much just one side of YouTube.

To me, the interesting part of YouTube is the material that’s being created specifically for the platform. Rather than just using it to host some videos that you want to point to.

YouTube’s core aim is to make people consume more minutes of video content on the site. It wants people to keep returning to consume regular material rather than just the latest 1D video or see that lion jump into the arms of that man.

To get there, it’s funded quite a lot of channels from a variety of sources, to see what ends up being popular. That’s ranged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube to ITN’s Truth Loader and All3Media’s Daily Mix. At the same time, more naturally, kids with cameras have put themselves and their lives on the internet and become ‘YouTubers’.

Both types of content work for YouTube, the branded content working for slightly older audiences whilst YouTubers are providing a reach of 13 to 19 year old bigger than any traditional media platform.

YouTube’s focus on ‘subscribing’ to these channels encourages the content to more easily flow to fans and thus drives up the minutes consumed. You may have seen YouTube’s outdoor advertising currently pushing Zoella, Slow Mo Guys and Vice News. All native YouTube content.

YouTubers

The YouTubers phenomenon, in particular, is fascinating. Fresh faced attractive youngsters in their teens/early 20s create light, fun videos that have massive resonance with teenagers. The number of subscribers people like Zoella, Alfie and Marcus have are in the millions with videos getting 1m plus views.

What was telling at Radio 1’s Teen Awards last weekend was that the YouTubers on show – Dan/Phil, Zoella, Alfie, Tyler – were getting much bigger cheers than many of the popstars and pretty much all of the Radio 1 presenters.

To be honest, this isn’t really surprising. Teens have pretty much no traditional media targeting at them any more. Kiss/Capital/R1 is broader and needs people in their 20s to listen, CBBC doesn’t appeal to 13+, there’s no T4 any more and E4/BBC Three/MTV again need to be broader propositions. For a mobile generation with laptops in their bedrooms, YouTubers are people like them. Funnier, more attractive people, granted. But they’re much more representative of a desirable teenage life than anything traditional media gives them.

Radio 1 has dipped its toe in the water with Dan and Phil on Sunday and now its weekly one-hour YouTuber show, which is more than anyone else has bothered with. However I think we’ll start to see that ghettoising them in a 1 hour show is like early 90s Radio 1 just playing a few hours of dance a week, at a time when it was a huge part of young people’s lives.

Mass Media and YouTube

Anyway, as the people who write the Moyles knocking articles use YouTube for viral hits rather than subscribing to content themselves, they misunderstand what it takes to make native YouTube content really work.

Indeed, you can tell the media organisations that are driven by one-offs vs regular subscribers by looking at the stats.

If we take Key 103 in Manchester, they have around 3,000 subscribers, which is alright for something that clearly not a huge amount of effort is put into. Their YouTube homepage is, er, a little bare. If we nip into the video section, view counts range from 30 to 30,000. It, like many radio stations, give an incredibly confusing ‘subscriber-led’ experience. It veers from news, to breakfast show bits, to Esther Rantzen, to auditions for their girl band and from The Vamps to vandalised graves!

YouTube subscriptions and the ability to grow views for channels comes from consistency. Pretty much every radio station fails at delivering it and it’s no surprise that view and subscriber counts for the majority of radio stations are low.

One of their successes is an interview with The Vamps with over 10,000 views. I’d wager that pretty much all of that came from Vamps fans unconnected with the radio station.

YouTube should not be a dumping ground for station video of massively variable quality, with uploaders hoping that something will be a viral hit. For Key (and stations like it) just do the celebrity stuff and brilliant things like their Surprisal video – just be consistent. AND LESS VANDALISED GRAVES!

At the other end of the spectrum, Radio 1 are very proud of their 1.6m subscribers. They almost suffer a problem at the other end of the spectrum. The content they make is great and there’s lots of it. Amazing live lounge performances, viral stunts, interviews, features like Fire in the Booth and Innuendo Bingo. But I think they suffer from a consistency problem too.

They’ve worked hard to make sure that 1.6m people see their new videos in users’ feeds, but there seems to be very few views generated from this massive advantage. Of course not everyone’s going to like everything, but 6-7k views for film reviews or even 40k for a decent guest on Innuendo Bingo seems a low engagement rate when you think about the number of subscribers.

Live Lounges look and sound great with amazing stars, but like Key 103’s Vamps video how many of Taylor Swift’s 150k views for a performance of Love Story and 1.5m for her Vance Joy cover come from R1 fans rather Taylor’s own searching out that video on whoever’s channel it happens to be.

Now don’t get me wrong, viral reach is great. For radio it’s got the potential to be a great reach builder for a station, but it has very little to do with that ‘subscriber’ number – or what that subscriber number has the potential to deliver. Also – if you know a video has good viral potential because it’s with a celeb with a strong fan base – PLEASE remember to use it to plug your radio station. When’s the Live Lounge on? What station is it on? Who’s up next?

On this Taylor Swift video the branding in the performance is all Live Lounge – there’s no BBC or Radio 1 mentions. No one in the video says it’s part of Fearne’s show or how to tune in. There’s top and tail R1 branding, but with no radio call to action – the only CTA is to subscribe. BUT WHY? Surely one of the central purposes of growing subscribers has to be so that more teens then listen to the radio station?

To me, if I was trying to prove that my videos were working I would be looking at the view counts of non-viral videos. What is the content that people are coming to me for? How can I make them return regularly. It should be the same thing you think about with your radio content.

I’d also see success as the percentage of subscribers who go on to watch a video.

Thinking

I wish I could point to my radio station, Fun Kids, as having the answer. We definitely don’t. We need to be better at growing our subscribers and recently we’re trying to be better at focusing content on music-based entertainment (that is after all what we do on the radio). We’re also experimenting with additional channels that do different types of content – so we can maintain a core experience but still have the room to try new things. However, sometimes we still forget to plug the radio station properly.

Presenters’ Own Media

I’m always stunned how little of their own media radio presenters have. DJs build a relationship with their audiences on-air. If I wanted people to listen to me on that radio station more,  I’d be doing all I could to continue that relationship on other media, so I could cross-promote back. Twitter is a good start of that, but it isn’t the be all and end all. Where are their YouTube channels, their blogs, their newsletters? If they owned more of a relationship with their audience they would become more employable and get a better deal come contract renewal time.

I’m particularly surprised why no DJs really do YouTube. Especially the younger end. If I was on Kiss, Capital, Radio 1 or The Hits I’d be spending significant time on weekly videos growing my relationship with a core part of the audience.

[update: A commenter points out the success of Westwood with WestwoodTV on YouTube]

YouTuber Zoella has 6million subscribers and each of her videos get around 1.5-2m views. They are also mainly watching for her. She doesn’t have, or need, a viral video collaboration with The Vamps or Taylor Swift to drag their audience in. She is consistent, entertaining and audience-focused. She delivers what they like and expect and she does it once a week so as not to overload their feeds.

Back to Moyles

This is why I’m a fan of what Moyles is doing.

He does not need to do YouTube videos. If he wanted to be back on the radio he could be there right away. If he wanted to wait a while for something perfect to come up he could easily do that, quietly. If he wanted to be in the public eye, he’d be on Strictly!

I hope what he’s trying to do is to turn some of his large, passive broadcast audience into fans.

Our relationships with listeners is a funnel. So for Moyles he had 8million listeners. They consumed him through a passive device – the radio. Super low effort. Lower down the funnel are his Twitter followers – 3m of them. A little more effort – pressing follow – and not all of his audience will be on Twitter, so of course it’s smaller. Of those Twitter followers, how many see his tweets in a week? Maybe 300k or 400k? You would need to be a regular Twitter to see them pop up occasionally. How many of the follower accounts are bots or dormant? Probably quite a few.

Then you take the ones who see it and count how many then click through to something. 20% perhaps? How many then do the next action – donate, read something, watch a video? How many links do you flick through in Twitter each day and ignore? Even from people you really like?

However, each person who does click through and watch? Well that’s engagement.

I care much more about people at the bottom of the funnel than I do at the top. They’re the valuable ones.

In radio it’s your biggest fans who give you the bulk of your hours. As a station your job should be to create fans, to take them through radio’s funnel – awareness, sample, light listener, regular listener, fan.

Moyles’ YouTube

Moyles is getting 15 to 20k views per video from a percentage of his 10k subscribers and tweets/Facebook etc. I think this is great. His job is to entice people to watch videos for the first time and then get them to subscribe. Those subscribers should then be the base for a larger number of views of future videos.

He’s also encouraging subscription for an audience – 25+ – who aren’t native subscribers like the teens are. They’re the viral consumers rather than today’s subscribing ones.

It is not an easy task to do. But can you name any other radio presenters who have bothered to try?

The other thing I like is that he’s clearly making and editing it himself. One of the reason Moyles was so good on the radio was that he was a brilliant producer. He understood the theory, he was a brilliant technical practitioner and he was funny and  creative – a perfect combination. I think he’ll have a much better chance of success with his videos as he better understands what works and how to put it together.

So far, he’s nine videos in, he’s experimenting with form and content and that’s going to keep evolving. The hardest part is keeping up the enthusiasm to keep going.

14,000 people watched last week’s Innuendo Bingo on the R1 Channel, something supported by a broadcast radio station and 1.6m subscribers. 15,600 watched this week’s Moyles vlog on a channel with 10k subscribers and just some Twitter for promotion. I think he’s doing alright.