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Pop-up Culture Serves Media Well

There are few proven rules to winning ratings battles other than being on is far better than being off. Sometimes new brands attract fans. Most of the time, well-known brands fix better into daily routines. Since no broadcaster really knows one day to the next what audiences will do with their media time the spaghetti rule applies. Itís easier than watching the pot.

pop-up boomboxUK radio audience estimates for the fourth quarter 2017, mid-September through mid-December, reflected, certainly, the recent rage of pop-up digital channels from commercial broadcasters. Joint industry measurement service RAJAR releases national and London radio listening survey data four times each year. Overall national listening reach was up very slightly.

BBC channels, on aggregate, were lower in national listening share, 52.8% from 53.5% year on year. National and local channels down slightly to 45.5% and 7.3%, respectively. Commercial radio channels, taken altogether, bumped up to 44.2% listening share from 43.9%. The listening share for national commercial channels continues to rise against local commercial stations; national channels up to 17.1% listening share from 15.7%, local stations down to 27.1% from 28.2%. The listening share gap between BBC and commercial radio is 8.6% in favor of the BBC, slightly less than the same quarter a year earlier.

National rankings by listening share have changed a bit year on year, certainly among the top ten, excluding the top two, what are as they’ve been for years BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4, respectively. The more entertainment oriented Radio 2 is up rather significantly to 18.3% listening share from 17.3%. Conversely, more news and talk oriented Radio 4 is lower at 11.8% listening from 12.7%. There’s only so much Brexit news a sane person can listen to, particularly with holidays approaching.

BBC Radio 1, the endlessly maligned youth-oriented channel, moved up to 3rd place, 5.9% listening share from 5.6% one year on. The Heart national commercial network dropped back to 4th place, 5.6% listening share down from 6.2%. The Capital commercial network held 5th spot, posting a slightly lower listening share, 3.9% from 4.1%.

Classic FM, one of the real national commercial channels, rose rather handily to 6th in the national listings from 8th year on year; 3.8% listening share from 3.4%. The Smooth national commercial network dropped to 7th, 3.6% listening share from 3.9%. The BBC’s all-sports/talk channel dropped to 3.4% listening share and 8th place from 3.6%. Dance music channel Kiss held 9th, up slightly to 3.2% listening share. All-digital alternative music BBC 6Music held 10th spot at 2.1% listening share. (See UK National Radio Audience Estimates trend chart here - in Resources)

Digital listening continues to grow. Listening to all digital platforms has almost reached a significant threshold; 49.9% of all listening now digital, 36.6% to DAB platforms and 8.5% online and mobile. Digital output is certainly driving the long-heralded shift. Nearly all significant radio brands, BBC and commercial, have digital brand extensions. Unlike analogue FM or AM/MW channels that must have regulatory approvals, DAB and online channels just appear, shift and, yes, disappear. In the last year or so, Heart Extra, Heart 80s and Magic Soul have appeared… or popped-up.

 


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