Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Reach or Share?

If you looked at last week’s RAJAR figures released in the UK, and perhaps read a few of the press releases, you may have been slightly confused as to who is Number 1 in London?

Well – nothing’s changed insofar as the devil is in the detail and if you’re doing well in one metric you shout about that... and if you’re doing well in another, you shout about that.

Magic 105.4 are number 1 commercial station in share, with 6.1% and Heart 106.2 are number 1 commercial station in reach, with 1.881 Million listeners a week

And although they don’t shout about it as much, as they’re perhaps a little more restrained about such crass self-promotion (due to the “unique way they’re funded”) BBC Radio 4 are actually the number 1 station in London in both share and reach, with 14.7% share and 2.380 Million listeners a week.

At breakfast time, Capital have the largest breakfast show with 1.231 Million listeners whilst nationally, Terry Wogan’s much publicised last quarter delivered 8.102 Million listeners.

The biggest surprise was the growth of London talk station LBC, which has overtaken Capital and Heart to become Number 2 commercial station in share terms, with a highly respectable 5.7%. There’s no doubt that LBC is the star performer and gets the teachers 'Gold Star'!

So what can we glean from all this?

Capital’s current format is always going to deliver stronger reach than share. CHR always tends to do that, due to the deliberately repetitive nature of things. The average hours of 5.5 a week are actually pretty good. But Capital has historically always been about reach, so that’s the most important metric for that station I believe. Remember...reach before revenue!

Heart’s format should allow it to generate more average hours and 5.7 a week feels a tad on the low side. As we know, their ‘variety’ position is more of a myth (sorry... marketing position) than reality, as they tend to play a pretty tight bunch of songs over a week. So perhaps they’re playing more of the reach game than the share game currently.

Meanwhile, Magic seem to have got the formula right and although they may not play significantly more tracks than Heart in any given week, the image of being a ‘you can listen to us for ages’ station seems to have cut through... hence the 6.1% share. Plus there's no real significant difference between them in terms of reach and the other 2 competitors.

Meanwhile LBC’s average hours are up at 13.6 a week! They’ve got a growing cohort (841,000) of fans who just love that station. I didn’t know London had that many cab drivers!! This figure compares really well with say BBC London, who have 7.4 average hours a week and actually beats BBC Radio 4 nationally, which is at a mere 12.6 a week.

Often it’s smaller or more niche stations that have really high average hours. LBC has some way to go if it’s to be Magic 1152 in Hull (15.2), 107 The Bee in erm.... Blackburn, I think (15.4). And finally, come on down Premier Christian Radio with average hours of 16.6 a week. I know it’s difficult to compete with GOD. And some of those sermons go on forever...

So reach or share? Which is more important? Well of course, the answer depends on which one you’re doing the best in... and whichever that is, that’s the most important!

Actually – they’re both important. Lots of listeners, listening longer. And in London, this time, without sounding like Paul Daniels, you’d have to say... “That’s Magic!”

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