Actually, it’s a story with several tales to tell.
First, the main theme. The BBC is starting to pull seriously ahead of commercial radio, with almost 57% of listening verses Commercial radio’s 41%. Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, you can either see this as just rewards for investment in content and talent… or a blatant abuse of a privileged position designed to drive any commercial rivals into the ground… and stand on them hard! The BBC is long used to allegations of this sort, and to be fair, has to walk a delicate line of being successful… but not too successful, because “that’s just not fair”!
Perhaps it’s also tied into that peculiar British disease. We like success, but then when we see something becoming too successful, we cry foul, and denounce it as terribly unjust and really not very… well… ‘British’. Odd. To give a parallel example in the world of retail, I need only mention the word ‘Tesco’! ‘Nuff Said!
With Radio 1 back above 11 Million listeners and Radio 2 at 13.6 Million, there is no doubt that the BBC has made further inroads into the beleaguered commercial sector.
Virgin Radio’s resident number cruncher (and generally all round good-egg) Adam Bowie has written a very thoughtful piece on his personal blog about this topic and illustrated the theme with a rather good graph, which I've "borrowed". (I'll give it back whenever you want Adam!)
I think I need say no more on this topic, as the lines speak for themselves!
Another theme in this great RAJAR story is the tale of woe that continues for GCap. Capital has now slipped to 4th place in terms of reach with Kiss 100 now cume-ing an audience of 1.583 Million a week compared to Capital’s 1.563 Million.
Despite Kiss being a strong listen, I expect this to reverse itself over the remainder of the year as the ‘Denise’ effect kicks in. Word on the street is that the internal research is very strong for her and it’s only a matter of time before this translates to RAJAR. The fact of the matter is she’s a far bigger star than Johnny now. But how long can Capital hold on to her for? Hmmmm…
Elsewhere in GCap, Xfm’s worst nightmare has come true. Its market share is under 1% (at 0.9%) and its audience dropped a whopping 26% to just 379,000! (That “let’s get rid of all the DJ’s across the day” was a cracking idea wasn’t it!!) Is it time for that brand to be “humanely euthanized”? The boys at Global Radio certainly have a full ‘in-tray’ when they take over from the GCap!
And finally to a more subtle, yet highly significant tale: The number of people listening to some sort of digital radio continues to grow. Almost a third of the population (31.4%) listens to digital radio at least once a week, with DAB being the dominant technology. Sure… most of this is to analogue stations on digital, but it was great to see Planet Rock cume well the half million mark! Even The Jazz signed off with over 400,000 listeners. A bit too hasty to switch that one off? Over 27% of the UK’s population has a DAB radio, so it seems although the commercial sector is in turbulent times over the economics of DAB, the public still quite like it.
So, what’s the morale of our story? Simple really - invest in content! Easier when you have guaranteed funding I accept, but nonetheless, it seems to be a bit of a no-brainer really. And what is commercial radio’s answer to the current situation? Networking. Hmmmm – is this really investing in content? More on that to follow I think…