Adam's RAJAR Pic

RAJAR Q1/2014

RAJAR is getting harder and harder to report on.

This is mainly for two reasons:

1. The data source is large and detailed. Radio groups are now using it through additional backstage ‘trading’ numbers to better describe their stations to agencies. So for quasi-national stations like Heart they’re now reporting more accurate numbers taking into account their FM simulcasts and DTV versions. This is a good thing. It’s also going to open up more relevant data as radio groups follow Absolute’s lead with regard to doing different things with internet streams too.

2. We live in a very competitive world. London’s chopping and changing is coming from a close fought battle between the BBC, Bauer and Global. Personally I think it’s making radio more diverse and better quality. A rising tide carries all ships.

This all makes it a little more difficult for your correspondent, the part-time RAJAR blogger.

So, what’s struck me this quarter?

Smooth. This quarter takes into account Global’s musical changes but not really their new line-up. Generally the expectation is that change causes regulars to move away before new listeners top yourself up. No sign of that problem for Global yet. Looking at the ‘old’ Smooth, that’s before they added a load of Gold stations to the network, we see around half a million added to reach and about 20% added to the hours.

Looking at the new Smooth network as a whole, they’ve added around a million listeners and driven their market share from 2.3% to 3.2%.

In London Smooth has seen one of its highest ever ratings successes with 565k reach and 3.6m hours. Early days as it is, it’s already looking like a big success for Global.

London. London remains a ridiculously volatile market. Radio 4 and Radio 2 retain the top spots in share (though both taking a kick q on q and y on y) followed by Heart (5.3%), Magic (5.3%), LBC (5.2%), Kiss (4.8%), R1 (4.5%) and Capital (4.4%). The previously mentioned Smooth pulls a 1.7% share , pretty much equalling the brand’s high water mark.

Reach-wise, top stations after R4 and R2 are Magic, Capital, Kiss and Heart.

I feel bad for Capital, it has the ability to get a much higher share, but it continues to exist as content-less radio station demonstrated by its continually poor average hours. Of course it’s hard to generate hours at the younger-end, but R1 and Kiss seem to manage it much better than Capital. To me the real kicker is that the branding and music of Capital is great, there’s just very little sticky content (outside of breakfast) to tune into.

Digging deeper into Capital, looking at Marvin from JLS’ evening show numbers, he’s seen significant declines in that slot. Partly a strong Kiss and R1 but listening in he’s seemingly not allowed to deliver the personality he’s surely hired for, making him a somewhat expensive voice-tracker.

Grimmy. As expected, the last survey was a bit of an outlier (at 6.3m) with this survey returning to the, albeit high end, of his previous figures with 5.9m. The best part of his figures are that he’s consolidating his 15 to 24 audience, with 2m of them, at the same time as seeing a decent decline in the other demos. This is R1 Breakfast successfully delivering on the high wire act he’s forced to walk – keeping total reach acceptable, maintaining a large youth share, whilst killing off the oldies.

However, even with Nick’s good work, R1’s average age nudges back up (when measured 15+) to 34. As a comparison – Capital London (34), Kiss (30), The Hits (28), 1Xtra (26), Capital Xtra (29) and Kiss Fresh (26).

Radio 2. Bloody Radio 2 continues to be unstoppable by cheating at radio with their excellent line-up, clever music choices, lack of ads and a £47.8m/year content budget. They’re now up to a surely embarrassing 15.568m listeners and a 17.9% share of all radio listening (that’s more listening than all of Global Radio’s hours combined).

Digital. Digital’s been interesting this quarter with the share increasing to 36.6% with 56.4% of all UK listeners tuning in digitally at some point in a week.

It’s a good result for digital, but not the best. What’s had a bit of a hit is a decline in DTV consumption – 51m vs last quarter’s 53m hours and a 200k drop in reach. I think we may well have hit ‘peak DTV’ use.

Internet listening saw a decline in reach (q on q) but saw some hours growth. DAB was pretty steady this quarter though did manage both reach and hours growth.

Digital Radio UK have put out some interesting figures about London stating that digital radio now has a 44.1% share, but when you dig down further and look at listening in-home, digital now has a 50.9% share of listening.

I think London is a bit of a special case – but it’s digital success is driven by a few things.

1. Analogue radio is really crap in London. Pirates infest the airwaves with many traditional stations now unlistenable on analogue radio. As a predominantly digital listener, you really notice it when you’re in an analogue-only environment like a car.

2. There’s true choice in the Capital. The national multiplexes and three locals provide around 60 stations catering for all tastes and interests. It’s no real surprise that this generates lots of digital listening.

The digital transition is most keenly being felt by Bauer. As a radio group over half their hours now comes from digital listening. Strong investment in DTV, good digital-only brands and solid digital listening to their analogue stations puts them in a great position as radio consumption continues to change.

It’s also helping Bauer catch-up with Global on the sales front. Bauer and Orion combined now provides 143m hours. Global Radio Sales delivers 209m hours.

And finally… Well done to Key 103 – highest hours since 2006 and highest reach since December 2003 making it Manchester’s Number 1 Hit Music Station for the first time in a long time!

Picture nicked from Adam Bowie, who I imagine will have a good RAJAR update too. 

Also… A Northern Ireland Update from John Rosborough
And a London update from Paul Easton
Plus a MediaTel summary

Abs

Video on the Radio? Let It Go?

Every year I get a load of emails from students asking for interviews for their dissertations.  It’s usually quite a good barometer about what younger media types think are the core radio issues. This year all of the requests were about radio and visualisation.

Much of the kick of from this concerned Radio 1 – who’ve done a big push into the space with their own material as well as co-opting talent from YouTube to become more mainstream broadcasters on the network.

With a strong push from the BBC, it’s meant commercial stations, particularly Capital and Kiss, have had to catch-up and provide a high quality video-offering.

However all of radio (and we definitely see this at our own Fun Kids) is still somewhat finding its way with what it should produce.

Generally my take on most things is that it needs objectives. You need to know why you’re doing something – what’s its job – and then you can measure whether you’re managing to achieve that.

I think stations are particularly troubled by the new grammar that’s developing, particularly around YouTube. This is both in style – jump cuts, post-video shouts etc – as well as YouTube -specific terminology – subscribes, thumbs up, shares etc. There’s creating good video but there’s also creating good video that works on the particular platforms.

Personally I see YouTube Video as driving awareness to encourage an owned-media action. I want someone to learn about my radio station, be encouraged to sample it, visit my website, find out more about my presenters.

I’m happy for them to consume more videos and even subscribe to my channel, but mainly as a way that could later generate an action that happens on my media.

Another objective many people have is to make money on YouTube’s own platform. A noble aim, but to be honest, if you’re not generating 500k views a video you’re not really going to be making anything worth the effort.

The people who play YouTube well are the YouTubers. They’re the people who’ve developed an act that caters for the YouTube audience and is delivered in a way that generates more subscriptions and more views.

They have learned to do on video what we have learned to do on the radio.

What’s that? Identify a target audience and create content for them. It’s about being consistent, believable, relatable and high quality. It’s also about using the tools within the platform to best position yourself and better support the chance of being successful.

Radio 1 (quite rightly) leads the pack with 1.2m subscribers to its channel. They often generate multiple videos per day but with view counts ranging from a few thousand for a movie review, to 50k for an innuendo bingo, through to 200k for a live lounge on to 500k+ for an executed bit of content like a Greg James parody video.

It’s similar for Capital and their 35k subscribers. A couple of thousand views for their entertainment news in The Crunch, 5-10k for an interview and then 100k+ counts for videos about artists with a strong 13-19 year old following. The success of those aren’t driven by subscription or by being from Capital but through popular acts that YouTube SEO lets your surface easily to fans.

On the other hand, if you look at a native YouTuber like Zoella – an English girl in her early 20s – she has 4.5m subscribers and each of her videos consistently gets 1.5m views, with occasional peaks to 2.5m for collaborations.

This continual success is about consistency and a focused product and being of the platform rather than just putting some ‘content’ on it.

I point at Capital and Radio 1 – but at least they’re learning by developing different types of stuff and putting it out there. I could pick lots of stations – particularly large local and regional stations with woeful video – in volume and quality.

I think for radio to conquer video it needs to know what its trying to do with it and how to balance what they do with the platform their putting it on.

Radio should also look to see what it has that’s unique and how it can best use that.

I think one of my favourite bits of recent video content is Matt Edmondson’s video with Arthur Darvill off of Doctor Who doing a song parody of the Let It Go song from Frozen.

I think it’s something that plays to radio’s strengths by combing two things – Access and Talent.

Access, is the fact that Arthur is in their building. The might of broadcast Radio 1 makes that happen. Talent is the talent to write the parody song, to give Arthur something that’s special that makes the video not just watchable but something that generates delight when watched.

That is not something that’s easy to do. It’s not something that can easily be replicated. It is however something that suits the skills we and our medium have.

I think there’s also an attempt to be more ‘of YouTube’ at the end with traditional YouTuber calls to action of sampling other videos or subscribing, though perhaps there could be a call to teach people when the show’s on the radio etc, especially as it contains a Doctor Who actor it’s likely to get some viral growth in that community.

From a serving subscribers point of view this content (460k views) sits between a 1xtra Fire in the Booth (6k views) and Dan & Phil’s Internet News (10k views). It would be interesting to know if the channel would grow its subscribers further if it just had content like Matt’s rather than being a part of a varied catalogue of all the (albeit great) video content that Radio 1 produces?

Or maybe it doesn’t matter if you don’t think ‘subscribers’ matter. The vast majority of YouTube users don’t really understand the subscribe button and just browse videos – if your objective is to drive brand awareness you’re much better off just optimising the content you make for SEO (resulting in the peaks and troughs you can see with Capital).

Like I say, I think it all comes down to objectives. Why are you doing what you’re doing. And can you measure whether its working or not.

 

 

BBC Radio 2 Eurovision Pop-Up Station

Graham

On BBC Radio 2, Graham Norton has just announced BBC Radio 2 Eurovision, a four-day pop-up DAB Digital Radio station to celebrate the international music competition.

I think this is a great idea and something the BBC should do more of.

Why do I say that? Well, it makes use of existing technology as DAB multiplexes can be flexed to add (or remove) stations really easily. It’s also a technology that nearly half of UK households have, so lots of people can access it. It’s also a great way to sell a benefit of digital radio – choice. For those who don’t have a DAB Radio, they’ll also be able to tune in online and through mobile too.

It’s also (relatively) cheap to do. The BBC have lots of infrastructure for covering the main song contest, people out there etc, so it’s making better use of their resources – by producing even more content for licence fee payers.

And… it’s short-term. Four days is enough to provide value, but not too much that it’s providing even more licence-fee competition for us poor commercial broadcasters.

Hopefully it will also popularise the notion of pop-up stations – there’s been quite a few all ready and it’s something (with MuxCo) that we’re encouraging people to do too.

More radio, catering for people’s tastes and interests has got to be a good thing for our industry and our product.

It starts on Thursday 8th May.


Using Talent to Win on the Radio

K and J

 

A couple of stories have popped up this week concerning the power of talent to drive radio station successes.

Over in Australia, ARN managed to snatch the number 1 breakfast show in Sydney from 2Day FM. The talent were so important that ARN junked its Mix brand and created a new format that better suited Kyle and Jackie O – the pair they grabbed – KIIS.

The big question in the market was whether listeners would move up the dial. Were the draw of K&J big enough, or was much of 2Day’s success in their own brand?

Well, the results came out this week and K&J became joint number one in the market and they took their station from the least popular FM music station (7th) straight to number 1. Meanwhile 2DayFM went from number 1 down to the bottom, the 7th and least favourite FM music station.

This a storming result for KIIS  shows what an essential part of 2Day that show was. I don’t, however, imagine they’ll stay in that position for long. Their own new show will get better and some of the excitement about the change will likely fade a little.

Grabbing talent at the top of their game though, backed by strong marketing and distribution paid off for them. It’s also something that’s paid off for the BBC quite a bit here – see Evans joining R1/R2 etc.

K&J’s success has created a ‘the only way is talent’ mantra in  lots of Aussie radio discussions. However that tends to skip over the other success story in this ratings round and that’s Smooth FM. Paul Jackson (ex-Capital, Virgin and Richard Park’s son) took hos company’s perennially under-performing station Vega/Classic Rock and re-branded it 18 months ago as Smooth. Basically think Magic London. Whilst it has the occasional name, it is very much a music-driven radio station. The result has been a rapid rise to the number three FM music station in the market and I imagine there’s still some growth their yet.

The other story that caught my attention was Fubar Radio. It’s a predominantly comedy/entertainment speech station that emphasises its “we’re on the internet we can say anything” position and is a subscription service – £2.99/month to tune in.  It’s basically a comedy 6Music. They’ve got shows from people you’ve heard of – Mark Dolan, Richard Herring and Jarred Christmas and have just added a daily show from Justin Lee Collins and a weekly show from Sean Hughes to the line-up.

You get a 7 day trial and I’ve had a bit of a listen – it’s a good listen and an entertaining station.

I think their positioning is probably off though. I’d concentrate on the entertainment angle rather than “ooh, we’re naughty”. Most of what I heard would  actually be absolutely fine on a terrestrial station. What’s interesting about them is that they’re speech-led with good talent.

I’m also not massively sold on the way the subscription works – I don’t think they’re maximising the opportunity they have there. It’s also a tough model to make work in the UK. The choice of UK stations is pretty good, it’ll be difficult to make someone not only switch from a station they love, but also pay for the privilege too.

However, more power to them for having a go. Just as there’s always more than one way to win, I’m sure there’s also more than one successful commercial radio model too.

BBC Three Switch Off Update

Danny Cohen

My last post’s guesses about the announcements today were pretty accurate (point 5 in the top bit).

Turns out they’re basically saving £50m and then re-investing £50m in content for BBC3 on iPlayer and (politically friendly) drama on BBC1, a channel who already has a £1bn budget…

I also think my strategy claims were pretty accurate to, here’s Head of TV Danny Cohen quoted by Media Guardian:

“In an ideal world we would not be taking BBC3 online in 18 months time, we would probably do it in three or four years time.

“But taking on the World Service cost £245m to licence fee payers, we took that in from the government in the last licence fee settlement along with another set of commitments totalling £300m. It means we can’t keep offering the same with less money.

“For BBC4, that means if future funding for the BBC comes under more threat then the likelihood is we would have to take more services along the same [online only] route [as BBC3].”

Cohen added: “By making the move we made today we know we can manage our funding through the licence fee period which ends in 2016/17. We will have to see what happens in the future with the licence fee whether we can keep BBC4 [as a TV channel].

In other words, BBC3’s been sacrificed to tell the Government to keep their tanks of the BBC’s lawn, otherwise their favourite channel – BBC 4 – gets the bullet.

 

Turning Off BBC Three

The BBC has a problem. It does quite a lot of things. Most of which are very successful. It generates a lot of money from the licence fee (£3.7bn) but it spends this on a vast array of services. Unlike the Daily Mail would have you think, because of the level of consumption of these services, the value for money is generally pretty good.

It’s problem is that the Government is not really a fan. It’s freezing its income whilst loading on the organisation lots and lots more costs – £340m a year (to pay for the World Service, Monitoring and S4C). It wanted to load on even more – the cost of licence fees for the over 75s – £566m – but the BBC managed to escape that.

Like any organisation it’s hard to pay for everything you’re used to doing if the budget’s cut. Up to now the BBC has made efficiency savings to cope with these additions as well as small cuts to programme budgets – salami slicing in popular parlance.

There is clearly always more that can be done in ‘efficiency savings’ – but it’s hard. What’s much easier is to not salami slice, but to axe something. A big chunk of costs suddenly gone.

Therefore a leaked suggestion that the BBC is going to axe BBC3 – and perhaps move it online – therefore saving a huge chunk of cash. A big contribution to the £100m they want to save.

Unfortunately I don’t think this is really about money.

If there is one thing the BBC is exceptional at doing is that it works very hard to guarantee its future existence. And as a supporter, I’m very glad it’s good at it too. But let’s get real…

The BBC3 announcement is the first volley in the next licence fee settlement and a pre-cursor to warn off more government loading of services or top-slicing of the licence fee.

The reason the BBC are willing to sacrifice BBC3 is because:

  1. It demonstrates they’re willing to make tough choices
  2. If they incur more costs from the Government that they will be capable of axing more things rather than meekly just absorbing costs as they have done in the past.
  3. They will be happy to ingest the negativity of the closure because it will burnish their credentials that they’re serious and it’ll remind the Government again that licence fee payers are not happy about services closing.
  4. It will have very little political impact. The political class despise BBC3 anyway. They don’t watch it and the people annoyed by its closure don’t vote anyway. AND unlike 6Music are not made up of a moaning media elite who are able to be noisy.
  5. There will be a sop about the service continuing to exist online. This is clearly rubbish. Some shows branded BBC3 will survive on iPlayer, though they’ll also end up on 1, 2 or 4 too. Also – the purpose of killing BBC3 is to save money and 80% of its costs are content (and let’s be honest the other 20% broadcast/infrastructure costs are probably just group costs that will continue to be incurred with or without BBC3 being ‘broadcast’). In other words the savings will all come from programming, so there’s no way they’ll keep paying for the content for an online channel at anyway near the current levels.

Personally I think axing BBC Three is about tactics and not strategy. It’s a clever (licence-fee related) wheeze, but it will probably bite them on the arse.

Why?

  1. It still requires Trust approval. This will take ages and they’ll be a consultation. The story will be re-hashed over and over again – more BBC negativity in an already hostile press.
  2. There will be a ‘campaign’ of some sort from viewers. It may or may not be successful. The result will either be a climbdown (painful) or ignoring the wishes of a chunk of licence fee payers (long term not a good thing to do).
  3. The BBC has a bit of a youth problem – keeping and engaging with this audience is difficult. The BBC are sacrificing the number 1 station for 15 to 24s – I believe BBC3 does better in the demo than C4 does. This will leave R1 and 1xtra as the only services dedicated to the young. A demo that, as discussed ad infinitum, the radio stations themselves have their own problems in maintaining reach and hours with.
  4. Demographically it also does well with C2DE’s, which unsurprisingly, tend to have much more reduced internet access. So let’s assume there is an online move of some semblance off the existing channel’s content to iPlayer, well , a large proportion of the target audience won’t have the gear to receive it. Whatever happened to universal distribution?
  5. The BBC will have to come up with some ‘stuff’ to say that 12 to 30 year olds will be catered for on their other TV channels. Hello again T4 style programming on BBC2 etc. This will cost some money. So the savings won’t actually be that huge when everything’s counted.
  6. The Government want to ‘get’ the BBC. They’ve now got over a year to respond to this tactic. This is enough time to negate it or beat it.

Net result? No score draw in the licence fee battle. But viewers lose a valuable, decently watched service whilst other people carry on playing their poker match

Exclusive Online Content

Jimmy

I try and generally be positive, or if not at least constructive with these blogs. The last post just about does that, though I updated it for the Radio Today Australia version with a few things from Australian social media that I liked.

I’m a big fan of examples, so when I saw this from Jimmy Fallon (the new host of the Tonight show on NBC) rather than try and squeeze it into a tweet, I though I’d post it here.

The video is part of an occasional series Jimmy does where he answers viewers questions.

What I like about this is it’s very lo-fi, very honest, not showbiz at all. He’s answering honestly and isn’t trying to be ‘up’ or showbiz. I think he builds a better relationship with the audience by coming across as a real person, sharing his answers with his friends watching.

It’s amazing that today when we regard ‘being real’ as a core radio presenter quality – we so rarely truly deliver it, let alone on other platforms. Let’s be a bit more like Jimmy.

Social for Radio is Not About the Big Number

Like

I guess these things come in waves.

The biggest issue ‘media professionals’ (for want of a better name) have with social media is that they’re obsessed with the big number.

It started off with the Facebook Page Like number or the Twitter number of followers. On the radio it was plug, plug, plug whilst someone in the studio hit refresh. Make it go higher, make it go higher they wished.

Eventually people realised that it wasn’t all about the big number after all. It was about ‘engagement’ – yeah man, what’s your Retweet to Follower ratio? Favourites are the new RT don’t you know? Engagement is more important, but a lot of the stuff around it is bullshit.

The same issue with that original ‘big number’ now plagues how people measure engagement. The volume of Likes, RTs or shares mean very little on its own.

What you should be measuring is the action generated by engagement. 

The Australian radio groups are now press-releasing engagement numbers like it’s the latest RAJAR sweep such as ARN have unexpected response to social post and Mix Facebook Post Reaches 20million.

The Mix story is that someone at the station found a meme that had been circling for god knows how long and then pasted it, with an intro, on a station’s fanpage. It became viral. Great. But what does it actually mean for the station?

Well, on the positive side, lots of people will have seen the station name and logo. However the vast majority of these would have been outside of the TSA. The Page’s name is one of the world’s most generically named radio stations and there’s a frequency but not location. In the text there’s no reference to what show it is, or where it is etc. There’s no link to the station’s website. There is a call to action to encourage comments, which is okay, I suppose.

But what does it do for the station? Does it help its positioning? No. Does it help someone tune in for the first time? No. Does it re-affirm any brand values? No. Did the station re-create the image in a better way and add some branding on? No. Did they include a next action on station-owned media? No.

They cut and paste an image onto a page that had a decent amount of traffic and then they were lucky.

I would be embarrassed that this got 20million because it does nothing whatsoever for the station.

It’s mean to just pick on them. Lots of radio stations around the world are obsessed with posting these memes because they get numbers they can be excited about. They are the only ones that care.

Radio stations’ fanpages that are full of memes are just lazy. They’re often unrelated to the station’s brand and positioning and they get in the way of content that pushes people to listen to the station or engage in places where stations can derive value. They also stop you doing the hard thing of making and promoting decent original content that actually engages with listeners.

People who click LIKE on your Fanpage or FOLLOW on Twitter are your superfans. They are your P1s. They love you. They want to hear from you. That’s you, the radio station, not you the meme-monkey.

There will be some followers who like the page because of the memes. THESE ARE THE WORST PEOPLE TO HAVE. They don’t care about your radio station, they only like the cats!

These real P1s should be pampered. 20% of your audience probably provide 65% or more of your hours. They should be worshipped! You should find ways to reflect your output even more! By clicking like or follow they’ve already told you they’re hungry for it. Where’s that video clip from the actually hilarious bit of the breakfast show, where’s the extra clue to the contest, where’s the pic of that embarrassing situation their favourite presenter got into?

If you sacrifice these things for merely viral posts, you’re mad. The only value you’re building is that for Mr Zuckerberg. 20million views – means a couple of hundred million ad impressions for him. Well done. No wonder he can afford WhatsApp.

What the success of the viral memes should tell you is that at your station you have the tools necessary to make something go viral. That’s a brilliant thing to have. Why don’t you then make some content that is connected to your brand’s values, helps position you, as well as is fun, or silly, or racy, or whatever. Of course it’s harder to do than pressing CTRL-C and CTRL-V, but at least it will be worth something.

To me, good Facebook pages, or Twitter feeds are places that combine a number of things together that help show you to be a rounded person (or brand).

In Facebook, it’s the combination of links, statuses, images, videos, content, promotion and hey, even the occasional meme – it’s something that shows your brand is real, accessible and worthy of being part of someone’s life. Indeed, worthy enough to be within a newsfeed that’s mainly what their ACTUAL friends are posting.

And at your station? Please never get obsessed with the big number. It doesn’t really mean anything.

Communicorp Acquires Global’s Disposals

ls

It’s finally been announced. Global Radio has disposed of the stations it had to, to Ireland’s Communicorp.

When Global Radio acquired GMG Radio, unexpectedly for them, the Competition Commission decided that it would give them too much control of the local advertising market (they were fine about audience share and national revenue control). They then set them quite strict rules about what they would have to let go. This somewhat got in the way of Global’s desire to grow their Heart network as the disposals would likely cut across different brands.

However, the deal they’ve done with Ireland’s Communicorp is nearly perfect for Global. It was also a brilliantly well kept secret – no one that I talked to knew anything about it. Truly amazing and not something that tends to happen nowadays.

What the deal really means is that Global gets to re-imagine UK commercial radio along their own lines.

Capital

All the existing Capitals remain. However, Capital South Wales and Capital Scotland will be owned by Communicorp.

In addition a new Capital appears – Capital North Wales (owned by Global). They can do this because the frequencies that Heart in North Wales are on, are the old Marcher frequencies that used to be ILR radio stations. The formats of these are quite broad and so could easily ‘host’ either a Capital or Heart brand. Heart will leave these frequencies and re-appear on the current Real North wales frequencies replacing that brand.

Global will provide the Capital brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Heart

Heart becomes a truly national brand.

Communicorp gets Real Radio Yorkshire (to be rebranded a Heart). Global will take on Real Radio North East, Real Radio North West, Real Radio Scotland and Real Radio South Wales, rebranding them all as Heart.

Global will continue to provide the Heart brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Smooth

Global announced that Smooth is coming off Digital One. This is because it starts to get complicated from a local ads perspective. A D1 listener in Newcastle would get national ads on DAB, but an FM listener would get local ads. It gets commercially complicated, so Smooth is split back into a network of local FM and DAB stations.

This has an affect on local programming too. By not being ‘national’, Smooth has to provide seven hours of local programming for each of their areas. Unless, that is, Global’s patchwork of local Smooth coverage gets up to 70% – if that’s the case it’s still regarded as ‘national’ and therefore none of the regionals (whoever owns them) will have to do local content (thanks to Will Jackson for that spot).

Smooth London, Smooth West Midlands and Smooth Glasgow will be owned by Global direct whilst the Smooths in the North West, North East and East Midlands will be owned by Communicorp.

In addition it seems that most of Global’s AM stations will be rebranded as Smooth – and take the Smooth network feed. Something that will increase DAB as well as analogue coverage too.

Global will continue to provide the Smooth brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Gold

Gold loses a lot of its AM transmitters but will continue in London, the East Midlands and Manchester (where Smooth exists on FM).

Global will continue to provide the Gold brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

XFM

Global keeps the London and Manchester XFMs, but also adds what’s currently Real Radio XS in Paisley to the network.

Global will continue to provide the XFM brand and network feed from Leicester Square.

Still to come…

I’m not exactly sure what will happen with Real XS in Manchester (now owned by Communicorp).

There’s also a question whether the new “70s, 80s and 90s” brand that will go on Digital One could end up being what’s know at the moment as ‘Gold’ – but could, of course, be rebranded as something else… Heart Classics etc.

Summary

Overall, it puts Global in a very strong position. They’ve managed to satisfy the competition commission and hit their national brand objectives completely.

They’ll continue to provide national programming and sales and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Communicorp stations are co-located in Global buildings too.

Mark Lee who’s run Real and Smooth Ltd in the interim for Global has seemingly done a great job and will now get to do that in an expanded fashion as the UK Chief Exec for Communicorp.

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