The UK's new radio figures

Greetings, and apologies for an impromptu week off last week. Lots of conferences to speak at - like the OAB, above - and not enough time to spend on this, which is a welcome problem to have. I very much enjoyed the conference keynotes last week week: Oslo, Orlando and Ontario. In person next time though!

Also, note that this email has inline images in it again. Last time, that broke Microsoft Outlook: I’ve tried fixing it, but if it still does that, use the link top-right in this email to view this post on the web (and let me know!)

The UK released radio audience figures for the first time for 18 months, the first time since the pandemic, and the first time since the launch of Times Radio and Boom Radio. RAJAR, the company which does the data, also took the opportunity to tweak the way the data was collected.

RAJAR used to be wholly worked out by diaries (mostly online, not paper): people would note down in a table what stations they listened to and when. That sounds hilariously arcane - but actually delivers really reliable figures: RAJAR interviewed a fresh batch of 20,000 people for each survey, but in spite of that, the results are really consistent: take a look at BBC Radio 2 or those for LBC to see how consistent they are.

Now, RAJAR has done two things. First, they’ve added a “panel” - survey parlance for “asking people we’ve asked before”. RAJAR is always conducted with at least one face-to-face interview, and a panel presumably helps them achieve their numbers during continuing pandemic-related issues.

Secondly, as Matt Deegan goes into here, they’ve added a PPM-like service, IPSOS’s MediaCell app. PPMs, of course, don’t measure “what you remembered listening to”, they measure “what you might not even have noticed listening to”.

(As Matt also notes, PPM means significant changes to how you program and brand radio stations).

So, what happened in the UK?

First, I wanted to acknowledge The Radio Academy’s tweets on RAJAR day. Exactly the right tone, exactly the right message, and there’s nobody else to do this. Congratulations to them: very impressive.

The data was picked apart by Adam Bowie and also by Matt Deegan, so if you want to really dive in to the data, that’s worth doing. Adam’s graphs are all interactive.

The thing that I noticed in this graph from Matt’s piece is the uniformity of radio’s multi-platforms in the UK. Historically, DAB has suffered during drivetime periods, the internet always being later to peak than broadcast, etc etc. Now, all of those platforms behave identically.

%%inlinestart%%Radio during the day%%inlineend%%

(This graph is just Mon listening, by the way; Mon-Fri data suggests the weekday breakfast peak is still at 8.00am, as I understand it).

The headlines are younger audiences declining again, and new stations Times Radio posting a very creditable initial reach figure of 637,000, and Boom Radio a similarly good number of 233,000 (with very loyal audience listening of 7.8 hours a week).

Both these new stations are fascinating models. Boom has with no studios or offices of any kind: every presenter contributing from home, and funded with ads; while Times Radio, operated by the same company as owns The Times newspaper, purely financed by sponsorship and Times subscriptions.

Lots to think about.


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It seems that the geekery about AM radio broadcasting last time has been handsomely rewarded in coffee. Phil Riley from Boom Radio, Chris ‘UK’ Stevens from Ignite Jingles, and Dusty Rhodes from Dustpod are all firmly in the camp of ’excellent people’, as they’ve bought me enough coffee to keep me in caffeine for a while. Thank you all.

Thank you to Richard Hilton, and Brun Audio Consulting for your ongoing support of this newsletter. I’m very grateful to you.

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