Chris Evans Leaves Radio 2 for Virgin Radio

Chris Evans announced he was leaving Europe’s biggest breakfast show at 8.15am, and by 10am NewsCorp’s the Wireless Group had announced that he was taking over the Virgin Radio breakfast show.

To say this is a coup for Virgin Radio would be a massive understatement. There is absolutely no reason for Evans to take a job on a digital-only station that’s currently only reaching around 400k listeners when his current show reaches nearly 10million. He’s already a rich man and scoops over £1m a year for the Radio 2 breakfast show. Talking to people at Radio 2 it seemed there was a worry that he was getting a bit bored (a recurring Evans trope) but there was no desire for him to leave.

On deciding to move, he would have had the pick of any radio station in the country. Especially as we approach a point where the big groups can network breakfast, there would have been no one to turn him down.

Chris, though, has always been a master of reinvention, grasping the media narrative and doing the unexpected. And surely there’s nothing more front page worthy than a seeking ‘return’ to Virgin Radio.

For younger readers, the 90s and early 00s saw a tsunami of stories as Chris abandoned the Radio 1 Breakfast show for not giving him Fridays off, decamped to Virgin Radio for a ten week contract, stuck around by buying the radio station, parlayed that into a £225m sale to SMG, fell out with SMG, quit the show and was sued by them and pretty much lost all the money. Rehabilitated by Radio 2 he eventually took on the breakfast show, grew Wogan’s audience and helped the station get its highest ever ratings.

So returning to Virgin has a very much unfinished business feeling about it. The station itself was rebranded to Absolute Radio ten years ago, but the brand was re-licenced by the Wireless Group three years ago when they won the 2nd national multiplex.

It’s ownership by NewsCorp is probably central to Evans’s return. Chris’s tabloid heyday meant that I’m sure he’s always had a relationship with Rebecca and co. Additionally NewsCorp’s ambitions in radio are aggressive. Currently trailing behind Global and Bauer in a far off third place and with very few stations of scale left to buy, a strategy to grow the national digital stations is the right one, and who best to achieve that than the biggest presenter in the country.

For Chris though, what a gamble, a challenge that is very Evans-esque. Can you take a, to many, unheard of radio station and push it to the top of the charts? In some ways there’s already been a dry-run of this with Chris Moyles helming the launch of Radio X. It’s been a success for Global, though a slower one than many at Leicester Square hoped and also one that only happened three years after he left Radio 1.

I’m sure Chris’s appearance on Virgin won’t be be taking that long.

New BBC Local Radio Evening Shows

Radio Today is starting to list the new shows that local BBC radio stations are launching at 7pm to replace their previously networked programmes.

It stems from a speech last year from BBC Director General Tony Hall where he said:

“Local Radio should be for everybody. It’s there to serve the Facebook generation every bit as much as the rest of us. My ambition for BBC Local Radio is for it to have more creative freedom, to celebrate local life, to be the place where we report local news but also the place we reflect local identity, nurture local talent and engage local audiences through digital platforms. I want to see a renaissance in Local Radio.”

It’s a great sentiment but it, and the announced shows, demonstrate the inherent conflict between building successful radio stations and delivering public purposes.

Let’s look at BBC WM’s new shows

BBC WM 95.6 has a different show each night on offer.

Samantha Meah, back on-air at the station after 20 years will host a Monday Night Party, and chatting about how it feels to be 50 in Birmingham and the Black Country.

DJ Vital, the grime, rap, and dancehall specialist from Wolverhampton, is launching his Tuesday evening show tonight (28th August), with arts and entertainment features.

Wednesday and Thursday evenings now play to the sound of Sasha Simone, The Voice finalist and former Brummie and bricky. WM says Sasha will tackle the issues that young people are facing and brings her own selection of music to the station.

The new schedule also sees BBC WM producer Lisa Smith debut her new Friday night music show, Lady Lisa’s Kitchen Disco, featuring the biggest songs from the seventies, eighties and nineties ‘to make a quiet night in feel like a big night out’.

At the moment 66% of WM’s audience at 7pm is over 55. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the new show on the Monday. I think Tuesday will perhaps be tough going. Rap and Dancehall fans will probably not entirely be on board with a speech show around young issues on Weds and Thurs, and those teenagers are unlikely to be into club classics on a Friday.

Across the whole station, 76% of WM’s audience is over 45 (and 59% is over 55). Over time their programming and brand values has led to local listeners understanding what it does. The closest thing they have to a youth programme – BBC Introducing on Saturday nights at 8pm to 10pm – already has no listeners under 45. Young people do not see BBC WM as a home for their ears.

Indeed, younger audiences on the whole, are not the appointment to listen generation. Their media consumption is driven by easy to understand branded environments – using channel choice as a tap to deliver something specific or a la carte on-demand consumption through services like Netflix, podcasts and Spotify.

It’s a similar story for ethnic groups and specialist music fans. A single show a week on a station that’s built no brand association with a topic has an almost zero chance of any ratings success. And when I talk about ratings, in this context I’m talking about something that demonstrates a target audience is consuming the programmes made for them.

The only thing that give these programmes any chance of success is through above the line marketing. Advertising the shows to existing listeners isn’t particularly helpful because as we know (for WM)  it’s predominantly 45+ (and 84% white). Promos after the local TV opt-outs is also not particularly helpful as TV and local news has an older average audience. So to tell people that these exist they’ll need to be investment in outdoor, direct mail, digital etc.

Now do I believe that the BBC should be creating local programmes for diverse audiences and should they be catering for a broad selection of local licence fee payers – including those under 45? Yes, absolutely – the problem is that the existing local radio station is not an effective delivery mechanism for this. Indeed it’s probably counter-productive as existing listeners will find their station is less relevant for them and it will promote the sampling of other stations.

It’s also not as if the BBC hasn’t realised ghettoising programmes on networks doesn’t work. Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra ran children’s programmes on those channels. What was the result? No children listened and it interrupted the flow for the regular listeners. They knew there was public value in kids shows, but hoping this audience would magically find and turn up for them was naive. The shows were axed and they now provide an online channel in the form of Cbeebies Radio.

So in a modern media environment what should the BBC do to launch programmes for broader demographics?

Firstly they need to establish a local brand and products that they can use to communicate to different audiences. They also need to integrate this into the BBC’s existing output.

Firstly I would re-imagine bbc.co.uk/derby or similar as a true local aggregation of content and information for broad audiences. At the moment it’s very local news-driven, instead it should be a bit more love of local life. It should be picking up a local band who’s performing on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading, referencing that a local stately home is hosting the Antiques Roadshow and featuring interviews with big names from the local area. It should be a digital product that can then highlight local content across all of the BBC’s output.

I also wouldn’t limit this to BBC platforms. A Derby YouTube page, Twitter and Facebook should exist, reaching the audiences where they are, and not being limited to local news and instead tuned to the demographics of each of those platforms. The BBC is perfectly placed to launch a local podcast for each area, again reaching out to people who have an interest in their area.

Secondly, new shows can’t just be one three-hour programme on the radio. If you’re trying to launch output that reaches particular communities, randomly choosing a single platform – the radio – to reach them is basically a gamble. Once again these shows should be mini-brands in all of the relevant places. The content should be platform agnostic. If your response to that is that we haven’t got the resources to do it – THEN YOU SHOULDN’T BE LAUNCHING THEM ANYWAY!

Thirdly, these shows should be able to be promoted programmatically throughout the rest of the BBC’s digital output. It would clearly be a non-starter to promote a local show nationally after Eastenders, but promoting the WM Asian show as a pre-roll to logged in Asian audiences in the West Midlands before catching up on Eastenders in iPlayer? A much better option.

Similarly all of the BBC’s digital output should be designed so local content can be traffic’d to reach the right audiences.

Fourthly, if you want local radio to reach new audiences, don’t mess up your existing channel, launch a new one. Spin offs, be it Absolute80s or 1Xtra have demonstrable success. With DAB, local Freeview and online there would be decent enough distribution to reach local audiences. Modern production techniques, voice tracking, re-using material and introducing new voices, all made by existing local radio production staff is entirely deliverable today.

A new channel would also be easier to promote to new people without complicating the existing, successful brands.

Launching a wave of one-off shows on local radio as a way of trying to grow reach and deliver to new audiences is based on outdated thinking about how modern audiences consume media. More crucially its a waste of the time and effort that all the teams will be putting into their content. If the BBC truly wants to reach new, local audiences, it’s got to think about platforms, marketing and the right content not just shoving 60-odd new shows on the radio, one day a week, at 7pm.

RAJAR Q1/2018: Analogue Radio Falls

In 2018, the UK listens to more radio digitally (through DAB, Digital Television and the internet) than they do through their AM and FM radio. Digital now accounts for 50.9% of listening and analogue the remainder. And it’s only going to grow.

If your business was built on being granted scarce spectrum and a local monopoly, your time is running out.  Or if you’re successful because of the spectrum you’re on, rather than the programmes you make, then you are in trouble.

It’s not all going to fall apart tomorrow. There isn’t going to be a analogue switch-off in the next few years. But quarter by quarter it will get harder and harder to succeed.

The latest RAJAR figures show that unlike many countries around the world, our listeners aren’t disappearing, they’re just listening to other stuff.

Through a mixture of dumb luck and canny judgement we’ve managed to create a parallel radio product – digital radio – that for many people is better radio. Planet Rock, 6Music, Kisstory, 4 Extra, LBC outside of London, the return of Jazz FM, Fun Kids… 50 stations for everyone, rather than 15. Radios that are easy to use, car radios with more choice, less interference and crackle, better reception. We’ve upgraded the plane while keeping it flying.

All the investment in content has also meant that our internet products are much better and more interesting. We haven’t chucked up a load of jukeboxes, we’ve created well-programmed stations with presenters and content. Apps, Alexa, catch-up have all been enhanced because we created great, broadcast brands.

Taken together it has worked. This combination of new platforms and new content has replaced, in listeners minds, what radio is.

In the last year Absolute 80s is up to 1.5m listeners from 1.3m, Kisstory’s 1.8m (from 1.5m), 6Music’s at 2.5m (up from 2.3m), 1Xtra’s over a million, Heart 80s didn’t exist a year ago and now has 1.4m. Planet Rock’s kept it’s million, Jazz FM has hit 591k (up from 469k) and talkRADIO’s hit a high at 316k.

talkSPORT’s analogue audience has remained static over the past year – 1.6m. It’s digital audience has increased from 1.5m to 2m. Five Live’s analogue audience has dropped from 3m to 2.5m, whilst its digital audience is the one that’s holding steady at 3.5m. Absolute Radio now has more listeners on just DAB than it does on analogue, and that’s combining their AM network and the two big FM licences that they have in London and the West Midlands.

At home, digital listening now accounts for 58% of hours, at work it’s 55%. In car listening lags behind – but it’s still 33% digital. I don’t even think we’ve seen the impact of connected speakers in the home yet – that home digital number will be growing fast. And it won’t be from people’s first digital radio – it’ll be for their 2nd, 3rd and 4th device.

Switchover

Now we’ve hit 50% it’s not surprise that people with analogue licences are starting to panic a little as suddenly it’s all. Very. Real.

But just returning to 5 Live and talkSPORT, they’re in an interesting position. AM is crap. It’s also getting worse, as more and more electrical things are interfering with the signal. For these brands, both of which have this great, premium football content, is AM really the best platform when positioning their brand? What’s interesting is if you look at average hours – for AM on talkSPORT it’s 4.9 and DAB is 6. For 5 Live it’s 4.5 on AM and 5.9 on DAB. If listeners convert to digital radio they listen longer to these radio stations. To me though, the people who are remaining on AM are probably the die-hards. I mean they have to love you if they’re taking that trouble to listen on AM. Just think what their average hours would be if it was a pleasant experience to listen to those radio stations.

The worry though, is stations always think “if we switch off AM (or any platform) will they find us on another one, or just stop listening”. If I was 5 Live or talkSPORT I think now’s the time to do a test. Turn off a region on AM and see what happens. My hunch would be that the net effect would see an hours increase (even if you lose a few listeners in the short term). I also think in the medium term it would be better for their brands to lose the AM association.

London

In London the regular battle for audience carries on, digital radio or not. The top 10 commercial stations, this time around (based on market share) are:

  • LBC (5.4%)
  • Heart (4.9%)
  • Kiss (4.6%)
  • Capital (4.4%)
  • Magic (3.7%)
  • Absolute Radio (3.1%)
  • Smooth (2.1%)
  • Radio X (1.8%)
  • Capital Xtra (1.0%)
  • Gold (0.9%)

LBC stays atop the chart through a combination of solid reach – 1.2m, but a stonking 8.9 average hours. That’s the key to its success. Heart London has more listeners – 1.49 million, but it’s average hour of 6.7 keep it number 2. Capital are 4th even though they have 2.1m listeners but average hours of just 4.2. Kiss’ listeners listen longer with 4.9 hours each meaning that even though they have less reach than Capital – at 1.9m – its the hours that drive them up the market share chart.

When you break down the demos, Kiss leads Capital in 15-24s, 15-34s and 15-44s in both reach and share. Capital’s 2.1m reach number really does reflect its broad heritage position, as 627k listeners of its listeners are over the age of 45.

The big battle in London, though, is over breakfast. There’s relatively new shows at Capital with Roman and Vick and at Magic with Ronan and Harriet. Over at Kiss, Rickie, Melvin and Charlie are now the heritage show in the market. Last quarter they managed to wrestle the number one breakfast show off of Capital, but they’ve lost it again as Roman increases a little to 1.023m vs RM&C at 968k.

Magic Breakfast has not fared so well down to 544k (vs 779k in the last quarter). They’ll definitely be disappointed and is probably the reason every London bus seems covered with a Ronan and Harriet poster and there’s heavy promotion in other dayparts.

In other news…

Radio 1 are going to be a bit disappointed. They had a good 2017, but the first quarter has seen reach drop to 9.4m, down from 9.8m in the last quarter, though up from 9.1m year on year. They’ve also been hit by a breakfast drop with Grimmy a smidge over 5m (down from 5.7m last quarter and 5.1m a year ago).

Key 103, soon to become Hits Radio saw reach drop a little to 382k (vs 385 quarter on quarter and 399k year on year). The Breakfast show follows the same pattern a little down q on q and y on y. The station’s figures have been pretty flat for the past 12 months – though a decade of decline seems to have bottomed out, so it’s probably a good time to make the change.

Most importantly, at our gaff we continue to RAJAR Fun Kids even though it only measures 10 plusses and so misses out our main audience! For this reason we just measure London rather than our full UK coverage. This allows us to benchmark ourselves against other stations when we talk about our audience to advertisers. And also means I can mention it in these blog posts of course.

Our 15+ audience in London has gone up from 50.9k to 58.7k (which means we’re bigger than talkRADIO, Union Jack and The Arrow in the capital) and our complete 10+ audience has increased from 89.7 to 91.2k (which is bigger in London than Magic Chilled and talkSPORT2).

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

Alexa, are you radio’s saviour?

When you have a problem there’s always a bit of you that hopes something will magically happen that won’t make it a problem any more. Of course, wish-based solutions aren’t the most reliable.

For radio stations that don’t have a well-thought out distribution strategy, there seems to be a hope that ‘the internet’ will solve any problems. IN THE FUTURE, these people often say, you won’t have to worry about FM or DAB (or whatever), THE INTERNET will make all that irrelevant.

The current adjunct to all of that is that SMART SPEAKERS are radio’s future.

But first, let’s rewind. What are radio’s problems?

Radio listening is pretty steady – 90% of the population consuming around a billion hours a week of radio – and it’s been like that for a long time. I think the key thing to be concerned about has been around young audiences – 15 to 24s.

Clearly there’s been a decline for both, though I think reach has held up pretty well – radio in the last 12 months reaches 80% to 84% of youngsters whereas 10 years ago it did 87% to 89%.

Hours have seen a much greater decline. It’s now 90m vs 10 years ago when it was 130m. However, though we’ll see what the next lot of data says in the coming weeks, if anything (looking at the last two years) I think that decline is slowing.

Why’s it been dropping though? Well, I think that’s two things.

Firstly radio, up until the beginning of the naughties has a lock on free music and entertainment. In 2000 – little broadband, no data on mobiles, we’d only had Sky Digital and Channel 5 for three years. Radio existed in a lucky monopoly. Limited new radio entrants, no real digital products and limited mass media competition. I think we have to look at 1973-2000 as the ‘we didn’t know we had it so good’ years. If anything youth consumption (and what will follow as that group age) is really just a true market correction.

I think our second issue is a lack of radio product development for teenagers.

Of course there’s stations like Radio 1, Capital and Kiss but they’re not really designed for teenagers. They need to have broader 15-34 appeal. Capital delivers more 35+ hours than it does 15 to 34s and for Radio 1 and Kiss around 40% of their hours are 35+ too.

Bauer’s in the process of closing The Hits, it closed Smash Hits quite a while ago and Kerrang has less distribution than its had in the past. Radio 1 itself is now playing significant ‘greatest hits’ content.

I find it difficult to listen to the radio sector prattling on about it being really important how we get young people to listen to the radio when they don’t really provide that much to grow the next generation of radio listeners.

Anyway, I digress, so if we hold demographic changes as a threat – some decline today with the young (and a potential for that to grow across other demos in the future) what else have we got?

Well, I think the big threat isn’t to the medium, I think its to prior business models. As mentioned before, in the ‘never had it so good years’ the market was entirely invented – a planned economy. The regulator decided where radio stations should be, what content they should provide and whether they got any competition.

The radio sector now, with 50% listening through digital platforms, is a market-led economy. Many small stations are still trying to operate the same business models they operated in the 90s without understanding that their competitive environment has changed. And that’s not just audiences with a choice of what station to consume. That car dealer who used to only be able to advertise with you? Now they can use Google AdSense and appear on local computers and mobiles with targeted messaging.

For decent sized local radio stations there used to be a nice national revenue cheque appearing each month. The inventory was sold at a lower price than local and it was a bit annoying around Christmas, but fundamentally it was free money. Now though, Global and Bauer’s share deals means that spot revenue isn’t as easy to come by.

This is why I get confused when people say that the internet as the delivery mechanism of the future will put everyone on the same playing field. Why? Let me get this straight, you want to gamble the way people listen to you at the moment (primarily for devices designed for that purpose) and you want to swap it to a device where you face untold more competition AND on a device that makes it harder to find you?

If a radio person says to you that the internet is the future for radio, the question to always ask them is “what’s your station’s website like and how does it do financially?”. If the answer is “it’s not very good or doesn’t make much money” then ask why you think they’ll be able to do any better in an internet-delivered audio world.

There are lots of companies that have made a fortune on the internet, where it has truly transformed what they do. It’s usually because they’ve smashed a monopoly, or the barriers of entry to a sector. It hasn’t tended to have come from the people who’s monopoly has been smashed.

If anything, Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, only exacerbate the problem for small or new stations. Why? Because you need to know the name of the radio station to get it to play for you. New station discovery on those devices will be non-existent – there’s no channel guide or EPG to look at. The only people who will be successful in that space are those with brands and/or non-radio marketing spend.

So is it all doom and gloom? No, not at all.

I think there are a number of things that radio as a platform and radio stations themselves need to do to secure a strong future for their businesses.

1. Radio as product. Think about the radio ‘offer’. What is it that radio provides audiences? And can we make all of the UK get that product? That’s about content, being free-to-air, on any platform, but on those platforms always easy to use and easy to find. It’s the BBC and commercial radio nationally – 40-odd stations that cover the vast majority of interests and it’s local stations and those with local content too.

Yes there’s probably some build-out still to do, but the vast majority of people can get this radio product today. Rather than battling against each other shouldn’t we be selling these bundle of stations like Sky or Virgin do?

2. Primary radio platforms. We shouldn’t forget our biggest positive is that loads of consumers have these cheap boxes, that they like, that does ‘playing free audio’ really easily. FM is pretty good, but DAB is better. It’s better because it improves the radio offer. We deliver a better (and larger) bunch of stations, to more people in an easy to use device. Consumers have a better radio experience – a better experience of our platform through that device. A better radio product in that device means that Spotify and Bluetooth’d podcasts and all the rest has a harder fight to unseat us.

I’m absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t be in other places – of course we need to be everywhere. BUT we need to re-enforce our core broadcast platform. Right now we overwhelmingly own the audio space – we should defend it mercilessly, whilst attacking other platforms and colonising them with our great radio product.

The best thing I’ve learned from the Norway analogue switch-off is that they’ve upgraded the radio product. Everywhere gets more radio stations, some are new digital only others were the old analogue stations that just didn’t go to all parts of the country. Strikingly some of the ‘new’ stations have overnight become the most popular stations in the country. It turns out that analogue radio wasn’t delivering the services that consumers wanted, so when it went all digital their listening reflected their true desires, rather than relying on the planned economy of the 80s!

Getting people off FM is important. As digital listeners they get a better radio product. They will consume more radio and listen to more radio stations when they’ve been converted. The faster we move people across, the longer they’ll be exposed to our radio brands – and the deeper connection we’ll make with them. We don’t want people to think ‘there’s nothing on the radio’ if they’ve only got an FM radio and live outside of a big city.

I wouldn’t switch off FM tomorrow and I’d much rather consumers switched themselves – but it’s in our best interest to be more aggressive. Let’s send a clear message from stations and government that analogue will be ending (that doesn’t even necessary mean a date), let’s stop analogue only radios being sold, let’s turn off some more AM stations. At the same time we should be better promoting the content offer and reasons to switch.

3. The non-linear offer. Stations have to be delivering audio and multi-media that isn’t just re-hashed versions of what’s on their linear stream. I hate to break it to you, but the mobile phone is never going to be a successful linear radio. A phone is all about choice, interactivity and personalisation. Growth is not going to come from linear radio. Yes – of course – have an app that streams your station and be on Radioplayer etc – but it will, at best, replace some existing listening from a different linear device.

If you want to be successful digitally you need new products. You need to use the money you make from, and the talent that makes your linear broadcast to build out new products. What’s your podcast strategy? If it’s ‘Best of the Breakfast Show’ go into the iTunes chart and see how many of those do well. Where is your expertise – local, music, comedy, news – whatever it is to build out a suite of audio products and use your linear channels to kick start them and grow your scale. Podcasts, flash briefings, short-form clips – it could be anything.

What are you doing differently on video? I’m sorry you spent all of that money fixing cameras (with generally poor lines of sight) in your buildings, but clips from studios rarely work on YouTube. You are trying to impose your media style on a platform that has devised its own. Learn from the vloggers they build relationships and audiences with content – we should be great at that!

Have you got a content management system that allows you to distribute your content to new devices that may pop up? If you do good local news is it formatted for Google Assistant, Facebook Instant Stories, Apple News, AMP etc? Is it in a CMS that can easily cope with new places that might appear. Have you got someone who can mangle the XML to get it to spit it out to these new places? BTW, good local news isn’t just pasting your radio bulletin cue into the CMS and attaching a 12-second bit of audio.

4. Devote less time to social. Is your social media activity resulting in listening, web traffic or money? I’ve worked with stations where the answer is an emphatic yes and others where it’s a no. Post like counts or number of shares are addictive to see. But are we feeding that monster with content for our own gratification or does it do anything for our core business? Are you building content that benefits you? Are you creating audiences on platforms that you can monetise directly? Audiences that you control the relationship with rather than an algorithm?

5. Use your skills away from the live stream. I think radio has some great special skills. Entertaining DJs, local knowledge, access to guests, strong relationships with listeners, a news team, a sales team well-connected in the community, studio gear, events expertise, and much more. Why do we apply almost all that effort into just the linear stream? What a waste!

6. The only constant is change. Doing what you’ve done in the past, when there was less competition for ears and cash and hoping that everything will sort itself out will not work now, let alone in the futre.

Radio will maintain its relevance and grow by being focused on consumers and delivering them the best product we can on as many devices as possible, but also providing great reasons to get them and keep them on the platforms where we have a better chance of winning.

Radio stations will only maintain their relevance and grow their businesses by using their amazing skills to build and deliver great audio and consumer products to their listeners.

RAJAR Q4/2018 – The Trend’s Your Friend

Looking through the final book of 2017 there’s few big changes, but perhaps more evidence of noticeable trends for radio as a medium and for some stations in particular.

BBC

At the BBC, Radio 1 has grown reach every quarter this year. A good sign for the team there, who have had a tough few years. Whilst not a trend, Breakfast had its best book in quite a while, with reach up to 5.7m (up from 4.9m quarter on quarter and up from 5.3m year on year). Live Lounge month and the 50th birthday being good tent pole moments for the station. 1Xtra’s following a similar pattern with growth over the year and a 25% increase in hours year on year.

BBC Radio 2 has generally been going in the right direction all through 2017, finishing on 15.4m – a year on year and quarter on quarter increase. Its hours have also grown year on year, now to a stonking (best ever!) 190m. Nearly one in five of every hour listened to on the radio, is to Radio 2.

When people talk about radio’s apparent decline, point to Radio 1 and Radio 2. They’re growing reach and hours, not shrinking.

6Music has pretty much plateaued with a reach of around the 2.3m mark all year. Is there more growth left in it? Does the very stable schedule need a little re-invention to take it higher?

Global

The main Capital, Heart and Smooth networks have not been so rosy. They peaked in Q2 where they were looking very strong, but they’ve fallen back over the past few quarters. On a brand level (taking into account spin offs like Heart 80s, Smooth Extra, Capital Xtra etc) the decline’s been blunted, but have these networks reached peak audience?

Definitely in growth has been Radio X which has had five straight books of reach and hours increases. Weekly reach of 1.58m and now 11m hours is good news for Global. Moyles too has done well. 7 straight quarters of growth, taking his national audience to 909k reach. Moyles’ breakfast reach is now bigger than the XFM network’s reach total in their final all-XFM book before the re-brand.

Bauer

Kiss has been going in the right direction for a little while, now with its best book in 18 months with 4.6m reach. Its sister brands Kiss Fresh (578k reach) and Kisstory (1.7m) have remained at similar levels for the past few books.

It’s the same story for the Magics (the main one, Soul, Chilled, Mellow) who have all been pretty stable. It’s early days for Ronan and Harriet on Breakfast, but they’re now at the slot’s 2nd highest ever figures at 1.4m, it’ll be interesting to see if their evolution and growth has a positive impact on Magic in 2018.

Absolute Radio had a good book, with 2.6m reach – the best in over a year. The spin-offs are all pretty stable with 80s at 1.4m, 90s at 744k. With 90s move to national last week (well cross-promoted by the main brand) I think it’s got a good chance to grow. Also with Absolute 80s now in a bit of a bun fight with Heart 80s and the arrival of the Wireless Group’s 80s stations, will 90s be the new 80s?

The Hits (562k), Kerrang! (607k) and Heat (598k) seem to have run out of steam a little, down almost a third from their heyday and pretty flat all through 2017. All three are good, well programmed stations, but now face much more radio competition, whilst TV listening, which drove a lot of their audience, has also fallen significantly.

All three lack any marketing spend or significant programming investment. Though I bet their cost per listener is still significantly less than a Key 103 or Metro, though the locals – right now – I’m sure do well from the local advertising. It would be interesting to see if these digital stations had the same investment in marketing and talent that some of the Bauer locals get, whether their audience acceleration would be significantly greater, and even with lower national yields, generated faster profit growth.

One Bauer local that has had a great few years is Gem 106. Now at its highest ever audience for the 106 licence – a reach of 561k. The next quarter will be their first without breakfast hosts Sam and Amy who’ve disappeared off to Virgin Radio.

Wireless Group

Speaking of which, Virgin Radio, though having a great book in Q3 – 555k reach – it did look a bit of an outlier. They’ve eased back this quarter to 483k, but that’s still their 2nd highest reach. They’ve got a long journey ahead of them, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

Stablemate at Wireless is talkRADIO. Its figures have been flat since launch and the latest quarter has its second lowest ever reach at 242k. The new talent they’ve brought in and the right sort of new afternoon show will give them a new platform on which to promote. It’ll be interesting to see where they are this time next year.

Platforms

As the blog post shows, the UK radio industry is now a real mix of analogue and digital radio stations. Indeed, the latest breakdown tells us that a record 49.9% of all radio listening is digital. This means the Government will soon be starting a review of plans for digital radio switchover. I wouldn’t expect FM to be going anywhere anytime soon, but I think it will bring to the horizon the dates when stations will start to leave the FM band.

The hours split today are: AM/FM (50.1%), DAB (36.3%), Internet (8.5%) and DTV (5.1%). Looking at reach, AM/FM now reaches just 79.1% of listeners, DAB reaches 54.9% of listeners, Internet reaches 21.1% of listeners and DTV’s reach is 15.7%.

Over at Fun Kids (where we just measure London and RAJAR just measures our non-core age group of 10 plusses), we went down a little from 92k to 84.5k. This quarter had 6 weeks of us being DAB+ only in London, so it’ll be interesting to see if that affects our numbers next quarter. Sadly my go to comparison to talkRADIO and Magic Chilled in London looks less good, as they’re both a little ahead on 87.6k and 86.7k respectively. We’ll have to just take being better than The Arrow (73.3k) and The Hits (83.6k). But who’s really counting!

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

All the RAJAR Hits, All Day Long – Q4/2016

It’s the final RAJAR book of 2016 and time to have a quick whistle-stop tour and see what’s been happening. Stick around and I’ll tell you about a breakfast show ratings swap, a station that’s halved it’s hours since launch and we’ll see what’s happening share-wise in a certain city. [13sec]

Breakfast

In the week where Dave Berry’s announced he’s swapping Leicester Square for Golden Square, his Capital Breakfast Show has been knocked off the top spot by Rickie, Melvin and Charlie at Kiss. Capital Breakfast now has a weekly reach of 881 vs Kiss’s 983k.

London

A breakfast drop has not helped Capital in the battle for London’s market share either. The top commercial stations are now:

  1. LBC 97.3 – 5.5%
  2. Magic – 4.7%
  3. Kiss – 4.5%
  4. Heart 4.1%
  5. Classic FM – 3.7%
  6. Capital FM – 3.7%
  7. Absolute Radio – 2.0%
  8. Smooth Radio London – 1.7%
  9. talkSPORT – 1.7%
  10. Radio X – 1.4%
  11. Capital Xtra – 1%
  12. Gold – 0.8%

Well done to LBC on it’s third highest share ever and getting over the 1million mark for reach. Though very disappointing for Capital to now lag behind Classic FM in London share.

Kiss London had good increases across the board making it the number 1 commercial station in London for reach, pipping Capital to the number 2 spot.

Global

Radio X has seen the areas it’s on FM – London and Manchester – have ratings improvement, with the overall national figure stable year on year and quarter on quarter at 1.2m reach.

Heart Extra’s 2nd RAJAR book sees a slide from 664k to 437k, no doubt as a result of dumping its regular programmes for Heart Extra Christmas (and playing a weird mix of Christmas music at that). I’m still unsure why they don’t give it a more understandable brand. Club Classics, 70s, Musicals – I think all would do better.

Bauer

Well done to Free Radio which has had a tough few years. They seem to have stemmed any decline over the past few quarters and are starting to see some hours growth. With the Big City Network taking on their revised music policy, it will be interesting to see whether those stations’ figures go the same way.

Absolute Radio 90s has been gradually creeping up over the past few quarters. It’s now hit 727k reach without even being a true national DAB station (it mainly exists in the cities).

On the other hand Heat, which has been national on D2 for a year continues to fall back – now at 720k reach. Time to swap them over and see Absolute 90s grow further?

The main Absolute Radio has returned to its standard 2.1m reach stomping ground after an outlier book which gave them 2.6m last time round.

Wireless Group

Nothing to particularly shout about at Hatfields this quarter. TalkSPORT returns to above 3m reach, but back to 18m hours after two books of 21m.

TalkRADIO hasn’t managed to solidify it’s growth last time around falling back to 252k reach and some likely unlucky diary placement resulting in its hours being halved.

A similar fate has hit Virgin Radio, it’s seen its reach this quarter drop a little from 324k from 344k, but its hours are around half the launch quarter, now coming in at 757k.

Radio 1

Some mixed results for Radio 1. The headline figure is that it’s down three quarters of a million reach year on year (about half of which were 15 to 24s). Quarter on quarter its down 311k (again half from 15 to 24s). Total listening hours though, are relatively steady, and the hours coming from the remaining 15 to 24s are the best they’ve had all year.

The breakfast show has however been doing slightly better than the station. Whilst it’s seen a drop year on year, this quarter has rebounded slightly adding 100k listeners.

Listening to the show during January, creatively it’s seen quite a bit of renewal. It’s had a strong contesting month concentrating on an 8am appointment to listen, good daily guests, with the best bits repeated the following day and more benchmarking of features like the entertainment news. I think it’s sounding the best it has for a long time. I think the new imaging from Contraband is top notch too. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s reflected in its Q1 figures in three months time.

Bauer, again.

With all the furore about the style guide, I had a listen to a 3pm hour of Hallam this week to see how it all sounded on-air. To my ears it sounded very clean. The new playlist and the majority focus on music sells did seem to give it more consistency than it’s had for a long time.

It’s also obvious that a cleaning like this is the right thing you do when you start a re-build of a station. Strip out a lot of the features, have a consistent sound and then gradually add back on the other elements.

It’s no fun to be entirely positive though, so I’d say that a much bigger issue than clearing your teases with the Content Director is the positioner. Surely “All the Biggest Hits – All Day Long” has too many words? Isn’t “The Biggest Hits – All Day” tighter and brighter?

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

Classic FM’s 25th Birthday

I have huge affection for Classic FM. I spent four years working alongside them in Classic FM House and then three years in Leicester Square. I also used to produce and tech-op, often very badly, for the station and even helped to get their licence renewed. The latter was a very, er, interesting process and definitely one for the autobiography.

Anyway, I think much of the station’s success over the years has come from a happy desire to do what they think is right for their audience, rather than following what is expected of a station with a classical music format.

It’s also been a station that’s often underestimated. I remember flicking through the pre-launch coverage and no-one believed that it would be able to get more than 2m listeners (the audience for Radio 3 at the time). It launched with 4m and now has over 5m. Radio 3 remains at 2m.

This year it celebrates its 25th Birthday, which is as good a time as any to announce a raft of new initiatives. These include:

  • Classic FM and the Royal Philharmonic Society commission 6 brand new pieces of music by young composers
  • April is ‘Live Music Month’ with 18 exclusive concerts broadcast on air
  • Live stream of a celebration concert with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Classic FM’s Music Teacher of the Year Awards
  • Re-launch of a nice, mobile responsive ClassicFM.com

But the thing I think is the most interesting is the introduction of a new (6 part) radio show about videogame music presented by Jessica Curry.

If you’re not really exposed to video games then I imagine you could be saying “really?”. But video games are a bigger industry than movies, a medium that Classic FM created the first soundtrack show for in the late 90s.

It’s also an area that fans feel very strongly about legitimising. Tracks have started appearing in Classic FM’s Hall of Fame and the station’s run a number of well received specials over the past few years. Indeed, just look at the response to the new presenter’s tweet about it:

It’ll be interesting to see the response to the show and whether it becomes a more permanent feature.

Congratulations to Classic FM on hitting the 25 to 34 demo, and probably attracting a few more of them too.

YouTubers Doing Podcasts and the iTunes Chart

A slightly grumpy tweet prompted a mini-Twitter beef with YouTuber Marcus Butler.

Well, it’s 30ish days later, so let’s have a look.

Marcus who runs a couple of successful YouTube channels has recently started a podcast – Lower Your Expectations. My tweet was in response to his happiness at hitting number 1 in the iTunes Podcast charts before his show launched. My slightly mean spirited missive was less to do with the podcast and more about the nature of the podcast charts.

The iTunes podcast chart measures momentum, rather than success. It looks at a variety of indicators to show how a podcast is doing when compared to others. Over the years it’s seemed that new subscriptions, recent five-star reviews and new comments are key contributors.

iTunes doesn’t want a static chart, it wants movement to give an interesting, of the moment, list to iTunes users. Marcus who comes with a significant established young fan base was always going to be able to dominate the algorithm.

This, alongside some iTunes home page promotion in the key spot, gave the show a great start – with over two weeks at the top of the charts. His current position, 30ish days later, is 94 – still very respectable, though it bounces around a bit.

It’s a good reminder that when launching a podcast you, too, should marshal your fans to drive yourself up the chart. Doing this prompts new sampling from people you don’t know and if they then like what you’re doing, then these new subscribers will help you play the algorithm and keep you on top.

But also it’s a reminder about pacing. If you direct everyone to the podcast straight away you’ll be using up your ability to game the algorithm in a shorter period. If you can arrange a solid stream of subs, comments and reviews over a sustained period you’ll likely keep yourself at the top longer – and therefore give you the ability to be exposed to non-fans over a longer period of time.

YouTubers

As I understand it, there are more podcasts on the way for YouTubers. Particularly ones from Gleam, the talent agency that manages Marcus.

It’s a sensible idea. 2016 has seen YouTubers who’ve built significant audiences diversify into different media. The bedrock of their brands is, of course, YouTube, where they generally produce ‘Main Channel’ videos weekly and “Daily Vlogs” close to daily. For someone like Marcus his channels generate around 10million views a month.

YouTube revenues vary significantly person to person but tend to be a combination of AdSense revenue from Google (you get about £1,000 per million views) alongside specialist brand deals where YouTubers promote products/services in videos (around £5k to £30k for most of them).

On top of the videos most of the big name YouTubers have been creating bespoke online series (for YouTube Red or DVD sell-through), books, other products and doing live tours.

Clearly these things can be great for generating some dosh, but it’s also about trying to embed and grow personal brands.

Building a business on a single platform – in this case YouTube – can be dangerous. Just ask the Viners. A change to the algorithm or the discoverability can have a dramatic effect on your views and revenue. Recently there’s been a spate of YouTubers worrying that YouTube has done just that as they’ve seen big changes to the way that people can see their videos and they’ve seen a drop in views and subscriptions. This is the first public manifestation of the panic many YouTubers have been sharing with each other on their own private Facebook group.

Whilst I think there’s definitely something in this being an alogorithm issue, there’s also pressure on established folks from new entrants. Viewers only have a certain amount of time, so as they start to watch new channels, it’s likely older ones will see some form of a drop off.

Marcus, was one of the 2nd generation of Vloggers. The 1st generation were those who stumbled across the fact YouTube could be a place where native content could thrive. In the UK that’s probably people like Charlie McDonnell. The 2nd Gen, like Marcus, Zoella, Alfie were often inspired by some of these and then very much took it to the next level with higher production values and more regular uploading.

For many in this 2nd generation, five years on, and the platform is harder to work. For many in this group, Marcus included, their YouTube subscription growth has halted.

In many ways it’s the same as any product life cycle for a brand – Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. In the maturity/decline stage, the product has to try and keep as much of the existing audience as possible whilst adapting and changing to refresh and bring new people in.

YouTubers on Podcasts

Creating a podcast for YouTubers is a good way to diversify. It’s another free-to-consume platform, its about content generation and iTunes is somewhere that has discovery mechanisms to get you noticed.

However, it is somewhere that has a distinctly different demographic to YouTube. This is potentially both a pro and con. Pro is that it’s a new audience that you can reach. The Con is the same – it’s a new audience who won’t necessarily be aware of you.

In demo terms YouTube for Creators is very 13 to 24, whilst Podcasting is probably more upmarket 25 to 44s.

Fundamentally it’s:

vs

There’s probably two ways to go with this. If the purpose of the podcast is to preach to the converted, the gamble is that you’ll have a new way to reach your existing audience. Even for those who haven’t heard of podcasts before, your pull is such that you can probably drag some of them over. This, combined with those who are already into podcasting, could give you some success.

The other option is to take as many people as you can with you, but use content designed particularly for the platform to reach out to new people and expand your reach.

Marcus isn’t the first YouTuber to try podcasting, many US creators have been making shows. There’s Rhett and Link from Good Mythical Morning who had Ear Biscuits (interviews). They managed 80 weekly episodes before ceasing in September 2015. Shane Dawson has Shane and Friends (interviews), Tyler Oakley has Psychobabble (gossip) and Grace Helbig has Not Too Deep (interviews).

In the UK, none of these, except for Shane, have managed sustained success in the iTunes charts.

The Podcast itself

My default view on all new things in audio form – is that it’s good that they’re there. There isn’t a ‘right’ way to do anything, if your material can establish and grow an audience then that’s a good thing. I don’t particularly like The Archers, but I have no issue with it existing, as plenty of people like it very much. I feel the same about Marcus’ podcast – if it gets new people into the audio habit, that can only be a good thing.

Also, it’s unfair to critically review things that are still new. At the time of writing it’s merely four episodes in.

Having listened to it though, there are some more general observations that I’d hope be useful for any new podcast or radio show.

Podcast Tips

1. Listen to some other podcasts

Like radio, or YouTube, podcasting has a certain grammar that people are used to. It’s fine to ignore it and go your own way – successful people often do – but it is important to at least understand it first. As Hamish Blake says in this podcast, you have to understand the rule book before you throw it out.

If you’re trying to make a splash in an existing industry, analyse the things that are successful and try to work out why. What techniques are they using? How do they format it? How long is it etc.

2. Respect your audience

I think the biggest fault of many podcasts as well as things like student radio shows is that they’re doing the show for themselves rather than the audience. Sitting in a room with your mates and having a laugh is fun. Of course it is. But you can do that in the pub. However, if you’re going to the trouble of recording it – then it needs to be more than that.

If people could always be naturally entertaining for an hour, comedy shows would never need scripts or any preparation.

I always think that someone is giving you a really precious thing – their time. How do you make sure that you respect each minute of that?

In radio we talk a lot about what the ‘out’ is. What’s the end of this bit of content and then how do you get there in the most entertaining or informative way, ideally in the least amount of time necessary. Now, that doesn’t mean it needs to be short. It just needs to be appropriate to the story.

3. What are you trying to achieve?

Why should someone listen to your podcast/radio show etc? If the answer to that is ‘me’ then it’s not enough. If you have a theme – do you then deliver on it in every episode?

If you say your podcast is about something in particular, how much of your podcast is dedicated to that. There’s nothing wrong with going off-topic, but if you sell it on a certain thing – do you deliver it on it?

4. Does your topic and focus have the ability to attract new listeners?

The podcast world is a competitive one. You have to have a clear proposition that can be explained to people (ideally in the artwork or title). The podcast needs to sell itself without you doing all the heavy lifting. If someone hits play on a podcast, they’ve also got to be able to understand it in the first 30seconds. Most people will try before they buy!

5. Role definition

If you’re podcast is a group show, then people need to understand who the participants are. Great radio shows have great character definition.

If you take the Scott Mills show – Scott and Chris have very defined characters. When they introduce a topic you already know how they’re each going to react – that’s part of the fun. But, guess what, how they act isn’t an exact facsimile of how they are in real life – their personalities are adapted to service the show and its listeners.

6. Leave out things that are unnecessary and unrelatable

It’s connected to respecting the listeners’ time, but it annoys me when shows leave in things like technical cock-ups or long meta discussions about what you’re doing. It’s never as interesting as hosts think it is and it gets in the way of delivering the content that listeners want to hear.

On commercial radio it’s an even bigger crime. As a listener I know a breakfast show has to fit in 10mins of ads, news, travel etc that’s never dropped, so if a presenter is wasting a link taking about the show, rather than delivering it, it’s incredibly frustrating.

Also – remember your listeners lives. Talking about how hard your life is etc, when a Nurse could be listening, I find quite offensive! Generally if you’re making media, you’re in a privileged position, remembering that can be a good thing that keeps your focused on delivering for a listener.

7. Get a mentor.

If you’re new to podcasting, or a show, find someone who’s done it, or something like it, to help you out and critique your material. Yes, you may figure it out on your own, but you’ll have wasted loads of time getting there.

If the world’s number one tennis player, Andy Murray, has a coach, then it wouldn’t go amiss for someone new to something – and in podcasting that’s the producer or presenter – having one too. Coaches and mentors are good for everyone.

Summary

Great radio/audio seems effortless. It rarely is.

It’s the same with many videos that successful YouTubers make. It looks like they’ve thrown something together, but they’re often well-thought out, tightly produced and edited.

If there is an influx of YouTubers into podcasting, I hope they learn about the medium, get help from those who are experienced with it, and produce great content that delivers for their existing audience as well as bring in loads of new listeners too.

The most successful radio stations on YouTube

I’ve been spending a lot of this year looking at YouTube, and with Fun Kids we’ve been putting a significant effort into growing views and revenue.

As part of this work, I’ve been looking at how UK radio has been doing and I thought it made sense to share some of the data. Here’s a link to a Google Sheet with the stats for all UK radio stations on YouTube (that I could find).

Firstly though, why should radio stations bother with YouTube?

I think it’s easy to forget that, for many, YouTube is itself a social network. Audiences, particularly younger audiences, subscribe to channels so they see new videos in their feed. For these groups delivering regular, consistent content is essential. And it can pay dividends too.

Growing a subscription base means that new videos grow views faster. Having a direct relationship with the people who like your content means that you’re more likely to get ‘thumbs up’ and comments. Creating engagement around your videos also means that YouTube’s algorithm is more likely to show your video to other users too.

Creating quality content is also an important measure. It will help your videos be promoted around the site if you have decent viewing times for your content. That’s people watch through your videos rather than abandoning them part way along. If you have high view times, then YouTube regards it as a ‘good’ video. The result? More viral distribution around the site.

The other way to make sure your videos are discoverable is to ensure that the metadata is good. Titles, descriptions and tags are the tools that YouTube uses to power its search engine (the second most popular search engine on the internet after Google). Are you maximising the chance of your content being found?

Building audience on YouTube is good for radio too. Great video can reinforce the connection with your existing audience, and it can show non-listeners the kind of station you are. But it can work against you too. Badly filmed content without purpose or respecting potential listeners time can damage your brand values as well.

It’s also something that can be profitable. 1 million views generates around £1,000 in Google Adsense money. Strong audiences to all videos (aided by a good subscription base) can also provide a revenue source from direct clients too.

In my stats below I’ve grouped together multiple channels from brands. For example Radio 1 has its regular channel and a Vevo channel, Capital has a profile for each station and at Fun Kids we have a number of channels doing different jobs. The data is also showing all consumption, including non UK. However, what I’ve tried to do to compare stations more honestly, is to look at data from the last 30 days. So all this is mainly what happened in November.

The chart is sorted on total views in the last 30 days.

Station

Last 30 Days: Views

Last 30 Days: Subs

Total Subs
(not deduped)

1 BBC BBC Radio 1 (All) 42,483,624 58,407 3,951,607
2 Global Capital FM (All) 13,604,269 19,909 1,301,502
3 Wireless talkSPORT 5,599,242 7,786 596,352
4 BBC BBC 1Xtra 4,062,933 7,640 374,773
5 Folder Fun Kids (All) 3,318,413 15,691 40,396
6 Bauer Magic 1,358,325 922 7,287
7 BBC Kermode & Mayo 895,949 1,159 109,805
8 BBC BBC Asian Network 759,866 2,342 33,360
9 Bauer Absolute Radio 692,216 582 38,945
10 BBC BBC Radio 2 625,311 998 39,571
11 Global Capital Xtra 604,447 1,907 31,895
12 UKRD Pirate FM 362,416 180 866
13 Premier Premier (All) 309,171 739 16,893
14 Bauer In Demand 299,234 187 63,321
15 Bauer Heat Radio 218,711 109 75,570
16 BBC BBC Radio 6Music 208,425 662 21,158
17 Global Classic FM 163,187 256 8,258
18 Global LBC 158,704 994 17,125
19 BBC BBC 5 Live 157,401 189 6,653
20 BBC BBC Radio 3 155,841 415 18,390

Radio 1 and 1xtra, Capital and talkSPORT are doing really well. If you have a look at their channels, the reason is obvious – high quality content, regularly updated and focused.

Whilst there’s now a load of Jingle Bell Ball videos on the Capital channel, if you scroll backwards a little bit you can see the regular content they put online. Yes, there’s good video of studio guests, like the Shawn Mendes video below, but it’s highlighting a specific part of the interview, with a good thumbnail image too (if you look in the grid view). It’s designed to be appealing for Shawn fans and be clickable, rather than just be ‘Shawn Mendes radio interview’ dumped onto YouTube.

Much of Capital’s other video content is bespoke material, again with a view to it being consumed by those who live on YouTube. But often these are off the back of people coming in for a radio interview. Here’s a piece about How To Be A YouTuber – taking guests and doing more with it.

Radio 1’s main channel takes a different approach. Looking across their grid it shows a whole variety of different material. It’s part of the problem they have because of the nature of their radio station which comprises specialist music, silly games, celebrity interviews, massive live lounge guests, stunts etc. Whilst an accurate reflection of the nature of what they do, it does not help them benefit from how YouTube is used.

This may sound a little harsh when their channels is by far the world’s most popular radio station channel, delivering 40m views a month! However, much of their video consumption is to the content with superstars. Whoever does a Taylor Swift cover is going to generate millions of views for that video. I think what tells more of a story is when you look at the smaller videos – things that are the more regular content.

Radio 1 talks a lot about their 3m YouTube subscribers – an amazing success. But their YouTube strategy isn’t turning those subscribers into regular viewers of the content. For non-superstar content the videos average 5k to 20k views. Usually on YouTube each video should be generating 10% of the subscriber base, they’re clearly not.

Generally having lots of subscribers is good, as more people then see each new piece of content in their feeds and so are more likely to watch it. But with such diverse content and lots of different reasons that people are subscribing, are they actually prompting feed blindness, with people automatically ignoring the material?

Of course, all of this is a lovely problem to have!

I think talkSPORT’s channel is a great example of not needing the budgets and access of Radio 1 and Capital to do well.

They upload a new video daily, but they’re usually based on graphics rather than bespoke filmed video. The content is focused, usually funny and with good clickable hooks. Sport is also a passion centre for many and can prompt lots of discussion (good for YouTube’s audience-driving algorithms).

This video is a great example of something most stations with a copy of Adobe Premier could, if they wanted, for their station.

At Fun Kids we’re operating six different channels that are all doing different jobs. Our aim is to build a variety of distinct platforms on YouTube that captures young audiences’ imaginations. We’re making a concerted effort at creating channel brands around topics driven by particular presenters. Our first major effort is around video games, with N60Sean.

The recent success that channel has had, has come from combining different elements that are popular with younger audiences alongside good production and personality. In these videos we’re less about promoting Fun Kids as a radio station and more about getting viewers to love Sean and the videos he make. As he’s the breakfast presenter of the radio station, we hope doing it this way round builds him up as a celebrity people also want to listen to as well as growing the channel for us in its own right.

The video below shows Sean using the WWE 2k17 game to create a narrative with other videogame YouTubers.

If you’re committed to growing a channel on YouTube for your radio station, the best thing I can recommend is reading YouTube’s Playbook for Brands. It’s a brilliant insight into growing a channel and will really help.

There’s a lot more to say on YouTube – both from good and bad radio practice, to what other people can teach us, so I’ll try and do some more posts.

 

 

RAJAR Q3/2016

I’ve spent most of today in Denmark, working with the programming team planning Radio Days Europe (early bird tickets available now!), so I haven’t been able to do a deep dive into RAJAR, so here’s a quick look at the toplines.

London

It remains a ridiculously close commercial market share battle in London. LBC leads healthily with 5.1%, then Heart and Kiss are tied at 4.4%, Capital at 4.3% and Magic at 4.1%. All so close.

Global

Capital continues to grow its network reach with the brand now reaching 8.7m people and generating 50m hours. The addition of the old Juice to the network doesn’t harm that headline figure, as the Liverpool station has delivered marginally higher numbers now it’s branded as Capital.

Over at the Heart network it’s pretty stable Y on Y and Q on Q, though this quarter they’re publishing data for Heart Xtra (the nationally delivered fill-in-the-gaps version) which has a reach of 663k

Radio X is still struggling to make a mark in London. The people who like it, love it! Its average hours in this incarnation are strong – around 6 – but its reach has dropped back again – to 378k – when it used to do c500k as XFM. Across the UK, however, it’s had its best network figure for a long time with 1.2m reach and delivering over 9m hours.

Capital Xtra has been consolidating in London with reach fairly stable at 599k and across the UK, again, delivering record figures with 1.3m tuning in and generating over 6m hours.

Digital

Digital figures on the whole are good. 45.5% of all radio hours are now digital (that’s DAB, internet or through the telly) with DAB continuing to make up the bulk – 71%. It’s also DAB’s biggest ever quarter with 24.23m people listening on the platform each week.

Bauer

Kiss has taken a bit of a hit with London and the Network down year on year and quarter on quarter. Its sister station, Kisstory, though continues to grow from strength to strength and is now the biggest commercial digital station, racking up 1.6m listeners and 8.9m hours.

Magic’s been recovering after a few poor books in both London and across the country, whilst its new stations are doing good business. Magic Chilled is generating 240k reach, up a touch on its first book whilst Mellow Magic is up from 380k to 423k.

The main Absolute Radio has been steadily building its reach and now hits 2.6m – the highest since the 2008 re-brand, aided by a good performance from 105.8 in London and 105.2 in the West Midlands (where reach is up from 199k to 241k). 80s continues to drop back, still probably feeling the pinch from it’s move from D1 to D2. Overall the Absolute Network is delivering record reach for Bauer.

A tough book for the Wireless Group which sees talkSPORT and talkSPORT2 drop around 12% in reach (whilst hours hold up). This pops talkSPORT under 3m reach the first time in a while. TS2 sees a small drop from 284k to 250k.

A shame for the new Virgin Radio which sees a reach drop from 409k to 344k for its second book, whilst its stable mate, talkRADIO grows reach from 224k to 303k. talkRADIO also grows its average hours too, resulting in a solid hours bump from 839k to 1.3m.

It’s probably not wise to read too much into the ups and downs of national stations with a sub 400k audience, especially those reporting quarterly, as the sampling is resulting in quite a bit of volatility at the moment.

Nation Broadcasting

But, it’s not just the big boys that are playing digitally. Nation Broadcasting has three new digital projects on the go – Thames Radio (which has yet to report), Chris Country which from a standing start hits 35k passionate listeners in London (who are listening for 8.5 hours each) and digital-only Dragon Radio in Wales (which this book doesn’t entirely cover) starting off with a small 11k reach. Early days for all of these stations, but it will be interesting to see if they can build consistent growth over the coming books. They’re the first smaller radio group to launch new digital-only’s, but right behind them are UKRD with stations like Encore and their Oldies spin-offs and Lincs FM with things like Suffolk First.

Nation’s original analogue stations have had their best book this year (with a 16% Q on Q reach bump) and their hours back over 2m.

Over at the Beeb, Radio 1 is up Q on Q, heading back towards 10m (this quarter – 9.87m) and is back over 60m hours (62m) for the first time this year. R2 continues to have ALL OF THE LISTENERS with a slight drop in reach and hours but still delivering a stonking 15.1m people every week. Radio 3 does what it always does – bobs over and under 2m reach (this one’s an under). Radio 4 consolidates a good Brexit quarter, with its reach remaining over 11m and sister station 4 Extra is back to a reach over 2million. 6Music has its highest ever reach at 2.3m

Fun Kids

It was the first RAJAR for our children’s radio station Fun Kids this quarter. We’ve always held off being part of RAJAR as it doesn’t measure our actual audience – kids under 10! But, as we’re now national it made sense to experiment a bit and see what data it can give us and whether we can use it to support the business. So, we decided to just measure the London bit and see what drops out.

So, today’s figure shows that 10+ in London we’re at 58,000 a week (with the 15+ bit at 24,000). It’s at the lower end of what we expected, but looking at the data a bit more closely I expect that 10+ figure to probably bounce around between 50k and 100k in the capital over the next few quarters.

As a business we also use TGI Youth to measure the important bit – the children tuning in. It has a nice, large, robust kids sample, that shows we reach 291k kids (aged 7 to 19) across the UK each week.

It’s been an interesting first book, we’ll see what the trend’s like, but in the meantime there’s still a little way to go before we’re challenging Capital for the top spot.

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