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Digital platform figures from today's RAJAR

Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 1:31 am. #


It’s RAJAR day – the day when the radio audience figures are released for the previous quarter. You’ll find all the normal figures at Media UK – search for a station, then hit “audience figures” to see all the information, and a pretty graph.

As any RAJAR day, I tend to leave the proper analysis to people like Adam Bowie – and normally Matt Deegan. This time, however, the Sony Award-winning Matt claims he is on holiday in Norfolk, creating a handy cover story for the true story that he’s singing the Finland Entry at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

I’ve written a piece for MediaTel this year (you’ll see it on their site) about radio coverage as a whole; but here, I’d like to concentrate on new platforms – because, for the first time, RAJAR have relaxed their rules on publishing information on platform consumption. They might not release the figures, but assuming I could get hold of them (I could), I can now tell you exactly how people tune in to the radio. Excellent. I’ve got sight of some figures only for national and London stations, so, with apologies to the regions, here are some, I hope, interesting figures…

Digital switchover

The best-performing analogue radio station, in terms of digital switchover, is BBC London 94.9 with a staggering 51.6% of listening on DAB Digital Radio, and 54% digital listening overall. BBC London 94.9 is a radio station broadcast on FM in London – but FM only accounts for 41.7% of all listening to that station, with DAB being higher still. While I’m aware that BBC London does do splits between FM and DAB, I still find this an incredible figure for a station with a decent FM signal.

For Absolute Radio National (i.e. Virgin 1215 in old money), 52.8% of their listening is to a digital platform, with DAB attracting 39% of that (5.6% for DTV, 8.1% for internet). I’m proud of that figure, given my history – but 42.7% of listening is still to clunky old AM, to my surprise. Guitar-based rock sounds cruddy on AM, so why are people still listening to it? (Rather shoots the audio-quality-brigade argument down in smoke).

The third highest analogue+digital national combo is BBC Radio 5 Live, which posts 39.2% of total listening to digital (DAB: 30.8%, TV 4.8%, Internet 3.6%).

Leading up the rear of the stations in my list are all the commercial Asian stations (Kismat, Buzz and Sunrise); and then… 95.8 Capital FM, with a pretty appalling 13.5% of total listening to digital. An interesting comparison, then, between Capital and BBC London. (The Capital Network across the UK, despite being digital-only in some places, has an overall listening figure of 15.6% for digital platforms).

Real Radio is next in the “could do better” list, at 14.4% of total hours on digital; then it’s Heart London, at 15.7%. Then… XFM. Then… LBC News 1152. Global Radio appears to have a digital migration problem.

BBC Asian Network is generally held as being a digital-only station. It’s not, being carried on AM in many parts of the UK; indeed, only 20.6% of its total hours are apparently done on a digital platform. It’s the worst performing BBC national radio station in terms of digital switchover. BBC Radio 1 is next, at 21.3%, and BBC Radio 2 is 22.7%. Indeed, the best performing of the BBC’s FM stations is BBC Radio 3, at 29.4%: a group, we’re repeatedly told, who love great audio quality. The BBC are under-performing at digital switchover when compared to commercial.

And I know you’re wondering… talkSPORT has 28.3% of total listening done on digital; just beating Classic FM‘s 28.1%. They’ve a long way to go to catch up with Absolute; but then, talkSPORT sounds fine on AM, and Classic FM is on, erm, FM – and, as I repeatedly say, there’s nothing wrong with FM (particularly a hybrid radio version using RadioDNS too).

Digital-only stations

61.5% of all listening to BBC 6music is on DAB Digital Radio. This is possibly not too amazing – after all, it’s a digital radio station; internet accounts for 16.3% and digital television for 6.9%.

Yet interestingly, BBC Radio 7, now BBC Radio 4 Extra, is even higher for DAB at 65%. Television is significantly higher, at 9.4%, and internet radio significantly lower, at half BBC 6music’s figures: just 7.8%. Why does Radio 4 Extra do much worse for internet listening than 6music?

BBC World Service‘s carriage overnight on BBC Radio 4 appears to be the secret of their success; 56.3% of their listening is to FM/AM, and only 31.8% on a digital platform. (During this survey period, BBC World Service was also carried on AM in parts of the South East; this transmitter has now been turned off, so it’ll be interesting to spot any changes next time).

Most confused listeners

Don’t know what you’re listening to? Bauer stations Smash Hits and Heat have an interestingly high “it’s digital, but god knows what it is” figure, of 49.6% and 45.7% respectively.

We love the telly for radio

The Hits, Q, Smash Hits, Heat and Kerrang! – the top five stations on digital TV, (48.7%, 45.9%, 43.4%, 33.5% and 24.7% respectively), show the power of a decent Freeview slot. I’d wager that their audience is kitchen or bedroom-bound, rather than on the proper Sky box in the front room. (Kerrang! is also broadcast on FM in the West Midlands).

The most popular radio station from the BBC on the telly is BBC 1Xtra, with 24.6% of listening on the telly (23.2% on DAB, 19.1% on the internet). Once more, you’re invited to compare this figure with that of BBC 6Music’s 6.7%, and then think how many of 6Music’s audience are also doing homework with the Freeview box switched on in the bedroom. What’s that? They’re all too old? Aha, well, there’s your answer.

Five Live Sports Extra does second-best for BBC national radio on the telly, with 19.2% of total listening happening that way (35.3% on DAB, 7.5% on the internet). Why people are apparently not watching sport on the telly but listening to it instead, heaven only knows, but that’s what these figures say.

Yay, the internet!

The internet is tiny for radio listening – even smaller than TV – so these figures are probably more noise than anything else. 1Xtra is top, at 19.1%; then 6Music at 16.3%, with Bauer’s Q at 14.9% (it should be mentioned that Bauer’s digital stations do very well online).

That said, the most popular radio station for the internet is “Other listening”. This is where RAJAR puts internet-only radio stations, community radio and overseas internet radio; it’s interesting that 33.4% of all listening to “other” is via a digital platform, and that 24.6% of listening is via the internet. The amount of listening to “Other” is low, but not insignificant. Is Spotify included in this? Is it radio? That’s a debate for another time. (But the answer to the latter is, of course, “no”).

This all might be bollocks

I’ve had sight of these figures for some time, though unable to write about them. I have seen some of these platform figures saying completely ludicrous things – memorably, one radio station had 20% of their hours on the internet when they didn’t actually broadcast there – and long-term, these figures appear very bouncy, with large variations between surveys. They ought to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

That said, Global’s London services consistently significantly under-achieve for digital listening; 1Xtra consistently has done well for TV listening, too; and Absolute’s figures do have enough of a sense check for me to believe them. So, take them as an indicator, not as a massive check, and you’re probably on the right track.

Important notes, caveats, etc

There are a few stations which have incorrect figures according to RAJAR, and I can’t mention their figures above – they’re Absolute 80s, 90s and CRock; Colourful, NME, Chill, Yorkshire Radio and Planet Rock. Figures are within each station’s total survey area only, and probably shouldn’t be compared local to national. Some figures are from different time periods (6 months vs 3 months). Figures above don’t add up to 100%, because people don’t always know what platform they’re listening to. I am rubbish at maths. And this all might be bollocks. But at the very least, it’s very interesting. It seems the future is a hybrid radio future after all.


Michael Cook
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 9:15 am

“Guitar-based rock sounds cruddy on AM, so why are people still listening to it?”

In many parts of the country, the only guitar-based rock station – indeed, the only male-targeted music station – is Absolute. In the car, there’s nowhere else to go than cruddy AM.

commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 9:54 am

It’d be interesting to track back exactly how people are determining the platform they mark down.

For instance, anecdotal evidence suggests that a large number of people listening to stations on mobile apps do not realise they are listening over the internet – some assuming it is FM, some not really caring.

Of course, this is partly a Good Thing, but can somewhat confuse figures when comparing the digital consumption on different brands.

Martin Steers
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 10:09 am

Fantastic blog and lots of number crunching.. I decided against attempting to decode the figures myself last night.. Although I will make great use of the MediaUK numbers..

But its great that you have crunched the Digital Numbers… was actually looking forward to these more than anything else..

Global needs to do more and better at digital radio, if and when I listen they dont often promote DAB, and they really need to consider DAB extra content and stations…


Darren Wingham
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 10:12 am

A really interesting article!

Global should take digital more seriously. When a whole swathe of local radio stations became Heart, there opened up a gap in the market for a good commercial station aimed at 15-24′s.

But I wonder how many people know that Capital is within easy reach online or on DAB?

Surely, marketing themselves across the UK would help grow the national market they crave?

Maybe this is part of their future master plan …

Nicholas Trow
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 10:38 am

RE: 5 Live Sports Extra, “Why people are apparently not watching sport on the telly but listening to it instead, heaven only knows”.

Many of the sports covered on the station are only available to watch on subscription channels, also as you pointed out for the large tv listening for The Hits, Q,etc.. it benefits from a Freeview slot.

Michael Cook
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

How exactly are these figures made up, James?

6Music’s DAB + DTV + internet figures only add up to about 80%. Sports Extra’s add up to less than 60%. What’s missing??

commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

RE: “BBC World Serviceā€˜s carriage overnight on BBC Radio 4 appears to be the secret of their success; 56.3% of their listening is to FM/AM”

The official line is that overnight listening done by via Radio 4 is counted in the Radio 4 numbers, and not the WS ones.

Of course this is RAJAR and it’s down to the listeners to stick a tick in the relevant box, and it certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable that many would tick World Service even if they were listening to WS content on a Radio 4 frequency.

You are most probably right about the overnight Radio 4 listenership being significant, but the BBC World Service big-wigs would dispute it.

Martin Steers
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

@Ben thats a very interesting point.. do people really know what they are listening to and how.. For radios that are DAB and FM, you could forget what your using to listen.. With mobiles as well, and it would also be an interesting statistic to see if its Mobile network or wireless..

@Darren well someone should really take on the DAB, ideally an existing broadcaster who can wrap it up into their brands etc (and not convinced national DAB is profitable at the moment) so what do you think JACK UK?

James Cridland
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Matt said: “the official line is that overnight listening done by via Radio 4 is counted in the Radio 4 numbers, and not the WS ones.”

Indeed, the email sent to staff this morning from Peter Horrocks says, of the World Service audience figures, “It does not include the considerable audience that hear WS English on Radio 4 overnight. That audience is within the Radio 4 numbers.”

I’m afraid, I think this is rubbish.

… Occasionally, I can’t sleep.
… I turn on my radio, and listen to the BBC World Service.
… I know it’s the BBC World Service, because it tells me it is, regularly. It’s very well branded.
… I know that when I wake up again in the morning, I get BBC Radio 4, but Radio 4 has closed down now, because it’s the middle of the night, so I’m listening to the BBC World Service.
… I have a RAJAR diary in front of me, and I’m listening to the BBC World Service, so I tick the box marked BBC World Service.

I cannot understand how Horrocks can say that RAJAR magically knows whether the overnight ticks are for Radio 4. In my experience, most senior managers at the BBC don’t understand much about audience research, and I think, on this occasion, he’s got it wrong.

James Cridland
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

(I have asked RAJAR to comment.)

Adam Bowie
commenting at May 12th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

The World Service is a tricky case because it is carried overnight on Radio 4. But nonetheless, I think it’d be unfair to give Radio 4 the credit for the World Service’s performance.

There are plenty of reasons why I’d attribute it to the World Service’s performance.

Between 0100 and 0515 (the closest RAJAR allows me to breakdown), when Radio 4 is playing World Service programming, Radio 4′s weekly audience is 1.117m and the World Service’s is 1.039m. A year ago, in Q1 10, Radio 4 had 952,000 listeners (a pretty similar number), whereas the World Service had 636,000. And that number has just grown quarter on quarter until this time around, when admittedly, it has seen a decent jump.

The other time to look at is listening via times when Radio 4 is not broadcasting BBC World Service programming – 0515 until 0100. In Q1 2010, the World Service reached 1.167m adults, compared with Q1 2011 when it achieves 1.528m adults.

All the other BBC digital services have done well this quarter with increases in Radio 7 (as it still was), 1Xtra, 6 Music and Asian Network. Those digital services are being appreciated by listeners.

Together, I think it’s compelling evidence that the World Service is doing quite well on its own.

That all said, there are plenty of analogue hours included in the World Service figure which is odd. I suspect that it’s mostly people listening overnight on Radio 4, or it could be 648 MW listening before it shut down. Even, conceivably, Shortwave listening.

Getting back to the BBC email. I think it’s also fair to say that plenty of overnight World Service listening is being attributed to Radio 4. In James’ case above, if he marks his RAJAR diary with the World Service, then it goes into that service’s figures. If he marks it Radio 4, then that service gets his listening. That’s why the listening is split.

(If anyone from the BBC or RAJAR knows different, then I stand to be corrected, but it’d be some kind of specialist recoding that’d be going on if that were the case. And I’m certainly unaware of any such recoding).

commenting at May 13th, 2011 at 9:59 am

So, is Adam suggesting the total WS reach could up to* 2.957m, being 1.79m plus the 1.167m reported to R4 between 0100 and 0515?

*but clearly not that much because some listeners may have ticked both columns at different times and there are some schools programmes on the R4 DAB channel overnight to take into account.

Adam Bowie
commenting at May 13th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Steve – theoretically, yes (although your numbers are a bit off).

A quick run gives a possible WS total:

Radio 4 Overnight (0100-0515) 1.117m
World Service Overnight (0100-0515) 1.039m
World Service Total 1.790m
Any of the above 2.483m

* Obviously, these are not official RAJAR numbers, and the BBC can account for its services as it likes. You may well be listening to the WS purely because you like Sailing By, and forgot to switch off. Arguably your station of choice is still Radio 4.

James Cridland
commenting at May 13th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

@Michael Cook – apologies for missing your comment. There are hefty “don’t know but it’s on digital” or “don’t know at all” numbers in all of these figures, hence why they don’t add up to anything near 100%.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 20th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

James, very belatedly, to the casual reader your analysis here implies that Absolute Radio is the “analogue+digital national combo” with the highest digital listening share in the UK. This is of course because you chose to exclude FM listening.

In fact, if you include FM listening (i.e. look at the digital share for ‘Total Absolute Radio’), you find that 5 Live is the “analogue+digital national combo” with the highest digital share.

Now that Absolute has changed its formats to allow it to remove London localisation, looking at just 1251AM and DAB listening (i.e. looking at ‘Absolute Radio National’ data) and so discounting FM seems particularly artificial from a consumer perspective. When a listener tunes into Absolute Radio on FM, they’re not differentiating from 1251AM on the basis of the different programming on offer – rather the basis of their choice is sound quality / reception.

The digital share for ‘Total Absolute Radio’ is considerably lower than 52.8%. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to give the number, but it’s much closer to other national stations than might be assumed from your blog post.

One other question your readers might be interested in knowing the answer to is whether FM is in fact Absolute Radio’s most important platform.

And as you’ve acknowledged, your analysis also shows just how important AM still is to Absolute Radio – virtually as important as DAB.

Best as ever

Adam Bowie
commenting at May 20th, 2011 at 2:53 pm


You’re absolutely right that for Total Absolute Radio, the digital listening percentage is lower, and is in fact 32.2% compared with Five Live’s 39.2%.

Obviously the difference is that for a predominantly music service we do have a strong FM signal in London with less need for those listeners to choose to listen to a digital signal, whereas our AM listeners are clearly voting with their dials and moving across to digital platforms. To put that in perspective, even though “richer” Londoners have greater access to digital platforms, our digital listening is lower in the capital that it is nationally, because FM remains a very convenient platform to listen to us on.

And to answer your question, FM and digital are roughly on a par in terms of the amount of Absolute Radio’s overall listening share. AM represents just over a quarter of all listening to the overall service.

I’d certainly argue that 32.2% digital listening for Total Absolute Radio (including FM in London) is still pretty significant, and puts Absolute Radio ahead of every other national “analogue” service with the exception of Five Live whos transition to digital is impressive.

As a business, it’s actually Total Absolute Radio Network that is most important, since the vast majority of campaigns are sold across the full network of stations. Only 15.4% of our Network’s hours are AM, which probably puts gives a better indicator of the platform’s importance from our perspective.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 20th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Helpful perspective, thanks Adam.

This would be easier if we were able to make like for like comparisons – with every station having identical platform arrangements.

I get that Absolute trades using a network number (i.e. including 80s, 90s etc.), but my view would be that it would be fairest to focus on ‘Total Absolute Radio’ in future versions of this list – as none of the data for other stations on the list (e.g. 5 Live) includes digital spin-offs.

I.e. we should be focusing on the 32.2% figure, which in fairness to Absolute has actually fallen back a bit this quarter.

Adam Bowie
commenting at May 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Well James chose what numbers he wrote about!

Our press release only references the Network share. And we ordinarily do only talk about that and Total Absolute Radio – perhaps also referencing London as it’s a key marketplace.

It did fall back a bit this time around from last quarter, although that was in large part due to an especially low FM figure in Q4 2010 that bounced back this time around. As a consequence our Q4 2010 digital listening figure was exceptionally high.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Sorry, that comment about future versions of this list was directed at James – James, over to you!

James Cridland
commenting at May 22nd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

My comments about Absolute Radio were comparing like with like – talkSPORT and “Virgin 1215″‘s figures are directly comparable in this regard, since – at least at the moment – talkSPORT has no FM outlet in London. That’s why I deliberately chose “Absolute Radio National”. Absolute themselves are probably less than pleased, since frankly the only figure that matters is the Absolute Radio Network, since that’s what they sell.

But since you asked…

Absolute Radio London (Virgin105.8 in old money) is an interesting one. It’s only available on 105.8FM, yet only 87.8% are listening in this way. 12.2% have no idea how they’re listening, according to the RAJAR figures. (It has no digital split out at all, of course).

“Total Absolute Radio London” – that’s both Virgin105.8 and Virgin1215 in old-money – is 25.4% digital. The full breakout: 65.4% FM, 17.2% DAB, 2.9% DTV and 5.4% internet. 9.1% is “dunno”. This is directly comparable to someone like Capital95.8 – 13.5% digital (73.8% FM, 8.4% DAB, 3.2% DTV, 1.9% internet, 12.7% dunno) – or XFM London – 17% digital (72.6% FM, 10.8% DAB, 0.8% DTV, 5.5% internet, 10.4% dunno).

In terms of “I don’t know if I can quote…” – yes, you can, starting with this data release. It’s how I’m able to, as well. (The RAJAR publishing rules have changed, and now allow anyone to publish platform data.) This enables us to significantly move the platform debate forward. Please use this opportunity.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 23rd, 2011 at 11:51 am

Interesting, thanks – hadn’t looked at that London data before.

To be fair, perhaps future versions of this list should either include both ‘Absolute Radio National’ and ‘Absolute Radio London’, or just ‘Total Absolute Radio’.

You’ve made the point about wanting to measure like-for-like, but I don’t think it’s right to say that these are like for like comparisons. The stations listed above benefit from a range of different transmission arrangements (including DTV availability), TSAs, demographic profiles etc. Even within national MW stations some benefit from dual frequencies, whilst others don’t. I don’t think this matters as long as the differences are spelt out.

As you say, Absolute Radio London is available on FM-only. This means that Absolute’s listeners in London are likely to either listen to Absolute Radio London on FM (e.g. in car), or to Absolute Radio National on DAB (e.g. on a kitchen DAB set). So the presence of an FM listening option artifically deflates the propotion of AM listening received by Absolute Radio National (as there is no need to listen to AM in the capital). The result is that Absolute Radio National has a higher digital listening share than it would do without the presence of Absolute Radio London.

Assuming I’ve got this right, doesn’t this mean that looking at Absolute Radio National in isolation is misleading?

You haven’t included Radio 4 on this list. Had you done so, would you have excluded either its AM or FM listening in calculating its digital share, or would you have included both?

* Where you’ve said 65.4% is FM for ‘Total Absolute Radio London’, I think you mean AM / FM?

James Cridland
commenting at May 23rd, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I think a comparison between 1215AM and talkSPORT is entirely valid. Sorry if you don’t: I certainly don’t feel it’s “misleading”, since I’ve been very careful to be clear which figures I’m quoting. It should be noted that Absolute Radio themselves have regularly quoted this figure as evidence of how good they are in achieving digital switchover: if you’ve any gripe, I’d take it up with Absolute.

I’ve also spent time in pointing out that talkSPORT sounds just fine on AM – another reason why the digital switchover is less – in comparison with guitar-based music which sounds fairly foul on that platform.

If you’re trying to insinuate that I’m trying to artificially paint Absolute in a good light, then I’d respectfully point out that I have not worked for Absolute this calendar year; I have never worked for talkSPORT or UTV.

Radio 4 doesn’t split its AM/FM figures out. It’s 29.1% digital (64.4% analogue, 24.5% DAB, 2.4% DTV, 2.2% internet, 6.5% dunno). Of course, Radio 4′s figures are (depending how you look at it) artificially inflated by BBC World Service’s overnight figures. Or perhaps World Service is artificially inflated the other way. Who knows.

And yes, apologies – Total Absolute Radio London’s 65.4% analogue figure is notionally AM and FM, though quite why anyone would want to listen on AM is their own lookout. RAJAR doesn’t split AM/FM out.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 25th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

James sorry if you read criticism or any kind of insinuation into any of my comments – none was intended.

But I do still think that in presenting future versions of this extremely interesting and important list – as I hope you will do – you should look at Absolute Radio in its entireity. So if you break out ‘Absolute Radio National’, give ‘Absolute Radio London’ and / or ‘Total Absolute Radio’ as well. I think it gives your readers a fuller picture.

This is nothing to do with talkSPORT – we’re all very happy with talkSPORT’s digital listening position.

And this is complex stuff, so I don’t suggest for one minute that you were attempting to disparage anyone.

Although Absolute have themselves made play of their ‘Absolute Radio National’ number, even they have recognised the need to quote the ‘Total Absolute Radio’ number. I think they used to quote it on their website (although I can’t find the relevant section any more) and they did so on slide 14 of this Adam Bowie presentation:

When Ofcom quote Absolute’s digital listening, they also use ‘Total Absolute Radio’ (see paragraph 3.29):

And when Media Guardian reported on RAJAR’s decision to publish digital share data and referred to Absolute’s pride in the ‘Absolute Radio National’ figure of 55%, they explained that this excluded London FM and referred to the ‘Total Absolute Radio’ number as well:

I made some suggestions in my previous comment about why ‘Total Absolute Radio’ data may be a better comparator for other analogue stations. My points were to do with the role that the FM frequency plays in making Absolute’s AM listening lower in the capital than it otherwise would be (and so boosting Absolute Radio National’s digital share). I’d be interested to know if my reasoning was unsound.

Big love…

James Cridland
commenting at May 25th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I’m sure your reasoning makes sense. Absolute Radio’s figures are an interesting anomaly, given the station’s FM frequency in London; I’m just trying to ensure that I compare like with like as much as possible, and there are no other AM radio stations with an additional ‘translator’ on FM. (Oooh, look at me, using these American phrases). Apologies if the figures I’ve quoted don’t do that: it is, of course, impossible to ensure that there’s a direct comparison. It’s certainly arguable that a comparison between 5Live, or talkSPORT, with “Total Absolute Radio” is similarly flawed, since Absolute will come out artificially worse in that regard; and I don’t see how that’s helpful.

I, however, do take issue with the claim that I’m being misleading. I’ve been careful to explain what Absolute Radio National is, with the attribution of “Virgin1215″ (much to the doubtless annoyance of Golden Square). This is transparent and honest. Your clarification is welcome: your accusation of being misleading isn’t.

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at May 25th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

James, thanks for that considered response. I sense a slight difference of view on this issue, but that’s ok.

Just on your final point – you’re reading a degree of malice into my comments that simply isn’t there.

I posed the question as to whether looking at Absolute Radio National data in isolation is misleading, based on a hypothesis that I invited you interrogate. In no way did I suggest that you set out to mislead.

Interpreting data is not straightforward – goodness knows I’m no Adam Bowie when it comes to RAJAR analysis.

I suggest we draw a line now and look for an opportunity to chuckle about this over a pint…

James Cridland
commenting at May 25th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Mmm, beer.

commenting at May 25th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I think there’s a massive danger of being caught up in semantics and trying to measure apples with oranges. For me, what’s important is to look for trends which shows how listeners are including (or not) digital radio in their own lives. This varies area to area, demo to demo and collectively that information will help us shape the content, messages and distribution to make digital radio a valuable thing for consumers (rather than just companies who happen to have been awarded beauty-parade-based licences in the 80s and 90s or those who’ve been around for 80 years!).

Personally, I think the Hours score is merely a product of how far along the replacement cycle we’ve come. And, of course, it’s going to take people a little while to replace all of their listening instances with ‘digital’ – bathroom, kitchen, car, work etc.

However, if reach is struggling then we’re clearly never going to get anywhere.

To that end, I thought i’d have a look at how Absolute/Talk/Five are doing reach-wise in a couple of areas. For no real reason i’ve picked the East of England and the Midlands

Absolute: 63%
Five Live: 38%
talkSPORT: 33%

Absolute: 52%
Five Live: 43%
talkSPORT: 33%

For me what that shows is that a large number of listeners are choosing to consume previously analogue-only brands through digital means. Yep – that might be listening to the analogue bit for longer, or in particular places – but the entry points are starting to broaden (and for some stations considerably).

Punters actively using new platforms is great for new entrants and good for services with reduced traditional distribution (AM/Smaller-areas) where digital gives them an upgrade in quality, discovery or geography.

It’s not the end of the story, but definitely a more healthy place to start.

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