A Question of Commercial Radio

I was talking to a colleague of mine the other day who asked: Are there any commercial radio stations that we cannot advertise on?

That seemingly random question led me down the path of contemplation…

My first thought was, I guess it depends what you mean by commercial?

If you mean commercial as in mass market, (i.e. commercial music), then yes, Radio 1 plays commercial music and could therefore be described as a commercial station, but you can’t advertise on it… Or can you? The last time I listened to Radio 1 there were loads of adverts. OK those adverts were for other BBC programmes, but they were still messages trying to get me to do something.

If you mean commercial in reference to advertising, then you’d expect that to be more of a straight forward question to answer. After all, a commercial station you can’t advertise on would almost be a contradiction. But that got me thinking about some examples, because there are some commercial radio stations – such as the soon to be launched Team Rock – which don’t carry standard spot advertising at all. Instead they provide the advertiser with opportunities to speak to their audience through sponsorships and promotions.

Different still is Amazing Radio. They’re a good example of a commercial station that takes things one step further, as they rarely carry any form of advertising at all. The station has been set up to champion emerging and independent artists; although there are no ads as such, the songs that are played are themselves like commercials, and listeners are encouraged to go to sister company Amazing Tunes to purchase the tracks they like.

Perhaps the purest example of a commercial radio station that doesn’t carry advertising is The Arrow, a DAB radio station owned by Global Radio. I for one love the constant, uninterrupted, stream of classic rock. (Don’t tell everyone about it though because if the listener numbers start to go up, I’m sure they’ll start trying to make money out of it!) 

A final example is UCB, a Christian radio station set up as a charity which rarely takes money for the commercials they play – and they usually only play charity ads. Any messages are normally designated as ‘consumer interest’ rather than commercials.

That more or less covers off the different types of commercial radio stations that don’t carry any advertising, though I’d just like to finish with a thought about the non-commercial BBC radio stations: Although these stations don’t carry any paid for messages, you don’t need to listen too long before you hear a minor celebrity talking about the latest research from client X. This is considered as Broadcast PR and is one potential way of getting commercial messaging on to a non-commercial station. (You can speak to us about this sort of thing too!).

So, to answer the original question – are there any commercial stations we cannot advertise on? Yes there are, but there’s plenty that you can advertise on as well!

(Suffice to say – I don’t think that particular work colleague will be asking me a quick question again for a while!).

 

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks

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RAJAR Q3 2012 Review

Hi All,

Here’s my full RAJAR update for Quarter 3 2012 – if this is a little too much, check out my comments which I will be posting shortly.

Enjoy…

Magic 105.4 becomes the most listened to commercial radio station in London, whilst digital listening figures remain static.

RAJAR, the radio audience survey, shows that 89% of people in the UK listen to the radio every week. Commercial radio reaches over 33 million listeners and achieves a listener share of 43.3% versus the BBC’s 54.2%. On a local level, commercial radio completely dominates the BBC, delivering 26.4 million listeners compared to the BBC’s 8.9 million for local and regional services.

LONDON LISTENING: In the London marketplace the big news is that Magic 105.4 has taken over the number one spot in terms of reach, delivering over 2.1 million weekly listeners. Magic have also delivered in terms of listening share, showing strong quarter on quarter growth to take the top position with a massive 7.3%.  Going back to the reach table, Capital London have dropped to second position after a poor set of results, delivering 1,999,000.  A 12.2% quarter on quarter growth to 1,952,000 from Kiss 100 has helped them jump above Heart London (1,826,000), with LBC (927,000) also up 14% quarter on quarter taking fifth place, whilst poor results for Absolute Radio in London (832,000) saw them drop to sixth. Note: It is possible to measure Classic FM by its London only transmitter, which delivers 1,287,000.

LONDON BREAKFAST: The much talked about ‘battle of the breakfast shows’ has again been won by Capital Radio London, with 1,165,000 listeners to their show from 6-10am. This is the third set of results for Capital Radio since a change to the line-up saw Dave Berry replace Johnny Vaughan as Lisa Snowdon’s co-host on the breakfast show – and they will no doubt be proud of their continued reign at the top. Neil Fox’s Magic Breakfast Show (5-9am) has retained second place with improved figures up to 822,000 listeners, whilst Kiss Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin & Charlie (6-9am) have achieved third position with 717,000 weekly listeners – again beating Jamie and Harriet on Heart London (6-9am) who delivered 611,000 listeners.

NEW STATIONS: This is the first RAJAR for one new station and also a number of rebranded stations. Following the lead of Absolute Radio, decade-based stations are in vogue at present, with all the new stations carrying this theme. Smooth 70s, the National digital radio station owned by Real and Smooth Ltd, has delivered 749,000 listeners in its first set of results. Whilst Orion Media has taken the step of rebranding their Midlands-based Gold stations to Free Radio 80s. Previously reporting as Gold Birmingham & Black Country; Coventry & Warwickshire; Shropshire and West Midlands, the stations are now part of the Free Radio 80s Network. Whilst some stations struggle when they go through a rebrand, the Free Radio 80s stations have all had positive results. Covering Swansea and Port Talbot, 102.1 Bay Radio has also become an 80s station – extending the brand of its sister station Nation Radio to become Nation 80s – delivering a reach of 39,000, only slightly down on their previous reach of 40,000.

REGIONAL REVIEW: Briefly looking around the regions; in Norfolk, Norwich 99.9 FM have posted weekly reach figures of 54,000 listeners – 16% of the available population (slightly down from 57,000). In Doncaster (South Yorkshire), Trax FM has seen positive quarter on quarter growth, delivering 98,000 listeners (27%), up from 96,000 listeners (26%) previously, and in South West Wales Radio Pembrokeshire have posted a massive weekly reach of 50% (48,000 weekly listeners).

NATIONAL STATIONS: Classic FM remains the most listened to (single) commercial radio station in the UK. The station has maintained its reach of 5.4 million adults with listeners tuning in for an average of 6.5 hours. Keeping a focus on the national analogue stations: talkSPORT held on to second place recording a reach of 3 million weekly listeners. While Absolute Radio (National + London) delivered results down 12.4% quarter on quarter to 1,544,000. Note: Kiss UK, who broadcast across the UK via online, digital TV and on a number of DAB transmitters – plus three regional FM licenses – have achieved 4.3 million listeners, while Smooth Radio, who also broadcast nationally on DAB and have several regional licences (with local content in Scotland), has delivered figures of 3.19 million weekly adult listeners.

NETWORK STATIONS: The network radio stations which have become a feature of the UK radio industry over the past couple of years have again delivered some big numbers this quarter.
The largest commercial radio network in the country is Global’s Heart Network which delivers 7.3 million listeners, closely followed by the Capital Network on 6.8 million listeners. Kiss UK has delivered 4.3 million, Magic UK 3.8 million, Smooth Radio UK 3.2 million, and Real Radio UK 2.3 million.

Note: As the UK radio marketplace changes there is some convergence between national and network stations. Whilst the lines are becoming blurred, RadioWorks define network stations as those which have locally produced content, whilst national stations have the same output right across the country and are also available on a mainstream national transmitter (Analogue Radio or Digital Radio).

DIGITAL RADIO: Digital listening has remained static dropping down slightly to account for a 31.3% share of all radio listening, with 45.6% of people now listening to digital radio, either through DAB, DTV, the internet or ‘other’. The latest RAJAR figures recorded that 22 million adults (42%) claim to live in a household which has a DAB receiver. The number one commercial, digital only radio station in the UK remains Smash Hits Radio, with almost one million listeners (970,000). Absolute  80s have jumped up to second place with 895,000 weekly reach, going above The Hits which has dropped down to 893,000. Planet Rock also dropped off slightly reaching 864,000 listeners whilst in their first RAJAR Smooth 70s delivered impressive results of 749,000.

GROUP PERFORMANCE: The UK’s largest commercial radio group is Global Radio (delivering a total of 19.2 million listeners), thanks in part to the strength of its three core brands Classic FM, Heart and Capital. Bauer Radio with their Place and Passion Portfolios is the second largest commercial group, with a total reach of 13.3 million adults. Real and Smooth Ltd. (previously GMG Radio), who are now a part of Global Radio (subject to confirmation from the Competitions Commission) has delivered a 5.8 million weekly reach, whilst UTV Radio, owners of talkSPORT, reaches 4.2 million listeners.  Absolute Radio, and its network of decade-based stations, have dropped off slightly after their record listening figures of the previous quarter, and now deliver 2.9 million weekly reach figures. It is also worth noting that when Global’s purchase of Real and Smooth Ltd goes through, the group could be posting figures in the region of up to 25 million listeners.

TARGETED STATIONS: Premier Christian Radio, broadcasting in London on analogue and across the UK via digital (online and DAB) have dropped off slightly on last quarter’s reach, now delivering 164,000 listeners every week. There has also been a slight drop quarter on quarter for Sunrise Radio (London) who reach 282,000 weekly listeners.

MOBILE LISTENING: RAJAR shows that 18% of adults and 34% of 15-24’s now claim to listen to radio on their mobile phone, and nearly all the UK’s radio stations are providing smartphone apps to enhance the mobile listening experience. The UK’s online radio consolidation platform, RadioPlayer, has also released an iPhone app, with versions for other formats to follow. .

That’s it from me for now. If you have any questions on RAJAR or if you would like any further information please feel free to contact your RadioWorks representative or email me Simon@RadioWorks.co.uk

SOURCE: RAJAR Q3 2012

Simon Pearce is Head of Insight at radio advertising specialists RadioWorks and Maple Street Studios

RAJAR Q1 10 – Comment

The headlines this quarter have to go to Chris Evans for his performance on the Radio 2 breakfast show but as for the commercial sector 95.8 Capital FM should be commended as they secured the number one spot in London and their breakfast show, hosted by Johnny and Lisa, delivered over 1 million listeners. Although overall Absolute has not performed as well as they would have liked the station group deserve praise for what they have been doing in the digital radio marketplace. Absolute Classic Rock has increased its reach by 37% over the last year and Absolute 80s has had a brilliant first RAJAR, delivering over a quarter of a million adults. Whilst fellow digital radio station NME has also performed well, up 27.7% quarter on quarter.  LBC’s continued strong performance deserves a pat on the back as does Kiss 100 in London – number one against that all important 15-44 year old market across the whole of London, even beating the BBC!