- a knowledge base for media professionals
The Numbers
Search / Email Story / Print Page /

Slipping Into Uncertainty And Making It Pay

Uncertainty is a rude force on conventional media wisdom. The audience wants their expectations fulfilled, except when they don’t. They want to see, figuratively, their reflection, so long as it’s very pretty. Then, too, they want to find what they’re looking for, preferably without major expense or lifestyle change. Uncertainty brings out frustration but only for a moment.

row row row your boatCommercial broadcasters were pleased, generally, with the Q1 RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) radio audience estimates released this week. Their overall reach share in the national survey was up, 44.6% from 43.2% year on year. Among the ad-important 15 to 44 year olds, it was up to 59.2% from 57.5%. On top of that, the aggregate BBC reach share was down to 52.8% from 54.1%. The “gap” between the BBC and commercial radio is 8.2%, the lowest for the Q1 period in more than a dozen years.

National channels are of strategic importance to both the BBC and UK commercial broadcasters for different but similar reasons. For the BBC those national channels, most of which have been around for generations, are a significant part of the overall service package for license fee payers. Commercial broadcasters, now in full digital embrace, need to waken media buyers with attention limited to online and mobile prospecting. Radio has become such an non-entity that major UK general interest media doesn’t cover it, unless there’s a scandal.

For operators, local stations are expensive and annoying. The aggregate reach share for BBC local stations has fallen to 6.7% from 7.5% year on year. Ten years ago it was 10.6%. Local commercial stations, on aggregate, reach 28.6%, roughly the same as last year. It was 31.4% ten years ago.

In the national standings, BBC Radio 2 remains on top with 18.3% reach share, down from 18.6% one year on. News-talk Radio 4 is second, still, with 12.5%, up from 12.0%. Sports channel Five Live slipped to 7th place, 3.6% reach share, down from 3.9%. Alternative music hipster favorite 6Music is 10th nationally, posting best ever 2.3% reach share, up from 2.1% year on year.

Long a figure for derision BBC Radio 1 held 4th place in the national survey, steady year on year at 5.6% reach share. Commercial broadcasters and media buyers they love were quick to point out how the channel - and morning (breakfast) show host Nick Grimshaw - have been bleeding gross body count (reach) since politicians forced it to confine itself to a very narrow demographic group - officially 15 to 29 year olds - by chasing away anybody older. BBC radio strategists responded by targeting mobile phone using teens, hard for traditional survey methods to measure. Taking the wide view, BBC director of Radio and Music Bob Shennan noted in a statement (May 17) “massive” radio listening “across a variety of devices… despite huge changes in the sector.”

National commercial channels were, generally, up a bit, down a bit or unchanged. There were two notable exceptions. The Heart national network held 3rd place, dropping to 6.3% reach share from 6.7% one year on. Talk channel LBC jumped to 1.9% reach share from 1.5%. Both are owned by Global Radio.

Heart is a national network of standard brand up-beat A/C stations with joking DJs, give-aways and lots of ads. A year ago a “Who’s on Heart” mobile promotion kicked in, largely to create a database for advertisers. Folks needed to pay through their mobile phone carrier to play.

LBC also relies on listener-contact. Talk show hosts go to the phones for the best of conspiracy theories and other rantings. "No one is under any illusion that LBC will do very well with the political uncertainty,” said media buyer Havas Media UK publishing manager Rich Hall, quoted by (May 17).

See also in ftmKnowledge

Public Broadcasting - Arguments, Battles and Changes

Public broadcasters have - mostly - thrown off the musty stain of State broadcasting. And audiences for public channels are growing. But arguments and battles with politicians, publishers and commercial broadcasters threatens more changes. The ftm Knowledge file examines all sides. 168 pages PDF (March 2014)

Order here

Europe’s Radio – Northern Europe

Northern Europe’s radio has a very digital sound. And change is in the air. Economic challenges abound for both public and commercial broadcasters. The ftm Knowledge file reports on Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the UK. 144 pages PDF includes Resources (November 2012)

Order here

ftm resources

related ftm articles

The Audience Is Amazing… And Rational
The audience is changing. On this there is total agreement. Everything else is a debate. Traditional platforms are waning, digital ascending, says conventional wisdom. But new platforms are evolving requiring people to constantly adapt or return to tried and true media consumption. The enduring question for media people is where should the investment go.

Scaring Them Away Does Just That
Economic theory offers that consumers are, after all, quite rational. Absorbing information they deem necessary choices are made. That information comes from a lot of sources or, most often, just a few. Restricting choices doesn’t necessarily nudge them along, disruptive opportunities quickly appear.

Broadcasters Hope Folks Will Forget Digital Dividend
Consolidation is an appealing business strategy. All those economies of scale bring joy to investor’s hearts, wherever that might be. After the digital dividend brought a decade of experimentation and fragmentation, media organizations are pulling back to leading brands. Market shares might be rising but consumers are still going digital, looking and listening for something new. It’s a quandary.


ftm Knowledge

Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda – new

The institutional threat of fake news, hate speech and propaganda is testing the mettle of those who toil in news media. Those three related evils are not new, by any means, but taken together have put the truth and those reporting it on the back foot. Words matter. This ftm Knowledge file explores that light. 48 pages, PDF (March 2017)

Order here

The Millennials

In the media sphere nothing is more important than knowing the audience. Once in a generation a target group evolves to catch the attention of publishers and broadcasters, advertisers and media buyers, social critics and politicians. The Millennials, also known as Generation Y and digital natives, are it, with unique characteristics and behaviors. They have already reshaped everything we do. 35 pages, PDF (December 2016)

Order here

State Aid - Media Rules

National authorities have at their disposal a variety of economic measures to stimulate, develop and improve competitive market sectors. Sometimes they miss the big picture or have special circumstances. Within the European Union an executive branch of the European Commission stands ready to clarify the rules of each and every game. State Aid rules are developing as the playing field gets bigger. 35 pages, PDF (September 2016)

Order here

More ftm Knowledge files here

Become an ftm Individual or Corporate Member to order Knowledge Files at no charge. JOIN HERE!

copyright ©2004-2017 ftm partners, unless otherwise noted Contact UsSponsor ftm