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'Commercial Radio's Heartland Audience: Where Did Their Love Go?' [incomplete draft report] by Grant Goddard

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Incomplete draft report analysing the shifts in listening patterns amongst various demographics within the audiences for BBC radio and commercial radio in the UK, written by Grant Goddard in May 2008.

Incomplete draft report analysing the shifts in listening patterns amongst various demographics within the audiences for BBC radio and commercial radio in the UK, written by Grant Goddard in May 2008.


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  • 1. COMMERCIAL RADIO'S 'HEARTLAND AUDIENCE': WHERE DID THEIR LOVE GO? [incomplete draft report] by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk May 2008
  • 2. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The latest RAJAR radio ratings for Q1 2008 elicited positive headlines that heralded the migration of listening from analogue to digital radio, but the real story is the increasing stranglehold of the BBC over radio audiences of all ages. Historically, commercial radio has always considered the younger demographics as its home turf, whilst accepting that the BBC reined supreme with older audiences. However, 2008 has witnessed the death of that simplistic equation, as the BBC now dominates radio listening in almost every adult age group. Listening share of commercial radio In Q1 2008, commercial radio recorded a 41.1% share of commercial radio listening, its lowest level since 1993. In 1993, commercial radio achieved this share with only 126 analogue radio stations, whereas now it has more than 300. Yet between 1993 and now, the number of BBC analogue radio stations has remained almost unchanged. In digital radio, the commercial sector has more national and local stations than the BBC. This illustrates starkly that success in radio is not dependent upon the number of stations you have, or upon the proportion of available spectrum to which you have access, but is reliant more than any other factor upon the content you broadcast on the stations that you do have. This is a lesson that the BBC understands implicitly, but which commercial radio still refuses to learn. Table X Commercial radio share of adult (15+) listening to all radio (%) 41.1 43.7 44.2 43.8 44.0 43.5 42.8 42.6 42.9 43.6 43.2 42.1 43.5 43.3 42.4 45 45.5 45.5 45.3 45.5 44.5 44.9 46.2 45.3 45.5 45.0 44.6 46.7 47.1 47.2 47.7 46.0 46.0 46.6 46.5 47.8 47.5 49.2 50 Q1 1999 Q2 1999 Q3 1999 Q4 1999 Q1 2000 Q2 2000 Q3 2000 Q4 2000 Q1 2001 Q2 2001 Q3 2001 Q4 2001 Q1 2002 Q2 2002 Q3 2002 Q4 2002 Q1 2003 Q2 2003 Q3 2003 Q4 2003 Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004 Q1 2005 Q2 2005 Q3 2005 Q4 2005 Q1 2006 Q2 2006 Q3 2006 Q4 2006 Q1 2007 Q2 2007 Q3 2007 Q4 2007 Q1 2008 40 [Source: RAJAR] The 15 to 44 year old demographic is the one that commercial radio has defined as its ‘heartland audience’ since 2006, and which it says is the demographic most demanded by advertisers. The sector’s trade association has argued that “commercial radio stations’ output is driven by the need to attract an audience which advertisers want to reach, and this does mean that Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 2
  • 3. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT the most commercially viable services are those which reach the 15 to 44 demographics”.1 In Q1 2008, commercial radio’s share amongst 15 to 44 year olds fell significantly to 50.7% from 53.1% the previous quarter and from 53.3% yearon-year. RadioCentre, the commercial radio trade body, chose to omit this share data from its press statement but valiantly pointed out that commercial radio still reaches 70% of this age group each week. However, the BBC is catching up fast and reached 64% of this demographic in Q1 2008. How much longer can commercial radio realistically claim 15 to 44 year olds as its ‘heartland audience’ if its share of listening soon falls below the half-way mark? Table X Commercial radio share of 15 to 44 year olds listening to all radio (%) 50.7 61.0 60.5 59.8 59.5 60.3 59.9 59.2 58.7 59.6 58.8 57.9 58.6 58.2 58.8 60.2 59.3 59.1 58.5 57.0 57.4 56.0 55.9 55.4 54.3 54.8 53.8 56.4 53.8 53.3 53.7 53.6 53.1 55 59.4 60 59.4 60.9 61.7 65 Q1 1999 Q2 1999 Q3 1999 Q4 1999 Q1 2000 Q2 2000 Q3 2000 Q4 2000 Q1 2001 Q2 2001 Q3 2001 Q4 2001 Q1 2002 Q2 2002 Q3 2002 Q4 2002 Q1 2003 Q2 2003 Q3 2003 Q4 2003 Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004 Q1 2005 Q2 2005 Q3 2005 Q4 2005 Q1 2006 Q2 2006 Q3 2006 Q4 2006 Q1 2007 Q2 2007 Q3 2007 Q4 2007 Q1 2008 50 [Source: RAJAR] The heart of commercial radio’s problem is that the younger demographics are spending significantly less time listening to its stations’ output. For the first time ever, in Q1 2008, 15 to 24 year olds became the only demographic still spending more time with commercial radio than with the BBC. In this quarter, commercial radio’s listening share of 25 to 34 year olds and 35 to 44 year olds both slipped below the 50% threshold for the first time. This is a significant challenge to the commercial radio sector. If commercial radio is not a medium dominated by young people, then exactly to whom does it still have mass appeal? Analysis of radio listening by gender demonstrates that the most serious issue is young males who are spending much less time listening to commercial radio. As a result, not a single male demographic is now spending more than 1 Commercial Radio Companies Association, Response to the Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, May 2005, p.21. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 3
  • 4. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Table X Commercial radio share by age group of listening to all radio (% of age group) 52.2 51.7 54.8 53.3 58.4 54.4 48.4 49.5 50 49.2 53.1 52.9 55 57.0 58.2 58.0 57.7 59.6 61.4 55.6 59.7 60.5 60 59.4 66.2 63.1 63.7 63.7 64.2 65 64.6 70 45 15-24 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 25-34 year olds Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 35-44 year olds Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] 50% of its radio time listening to commercial radio. This is somewhat surprising given the launch of numerous male-orientated, commercial radio brands playing rock music during the last decade (Kerrang!, Rock Radio, Xfm outside London; and digital services Planet Rock, The Arrow, Virgin Classic Rock, Virgin Xtreme and Q). This serious disconnection between young males and commercial radio is a phenomenon that the sector would be wise to study in more detail. Table X Commercial radio share by male age group of listening to all radio (% of age group) 44.3 48.5 46.6 48.0 52.0 50.6 44.9 44.2 45 54.3 56.3 55.1 49.3 53.5 52.9 47.9 50 56.0 56.5 55.1 49.7 55 53.9 55.7 57.3 61.0 59.0 58.9 60.0 60 58.9 65 40 15-24 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 25-34 year olds Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 35-44 year olds Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 4
  • 5. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The picture is not yet so grim with females, though the trend is similarly downward. In contrast to their male counterparts, listening to commercial radio is still above the 50% threshold amongst female 15 to 24s, 25 to 34s and 35 to 44s. Brands such as Heart and Magic, playing a relatively safe mix of wellworn oldies and a few current hits, continue to hold currency with the middle aged female audience, as do dance music stations such as Kiss and Galaxy amongst younger females. Table X Commercial radio share by female age group of listening to all radio (% of age group) 71.8 53.5 57.7 59.9 56.6 58.3 60.3 59.2 62.2 55 55.4 55.1 57.4 60 61.1 63.5 59.9 63.7 63.6 65.3 62.2 65 65.9 65.6 68.2 69.4 69.0 70.0 68.8 70 69.9 75 50 15-24 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 25-34 year olds Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 35-44 year olds Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] All of the above data refer solely to commercial radio’s share of listening to all radio, with the remaining percentage almost wholly attributable to the BBC. However, at the same time, the commercial sector currently faces a ‘double whammy’ as total listening to radio per capita is in decline, particularly amongst the younger demographics. Effectively, commercial radio is taking a progressively smaller slice of a smaller cake, a challenge that is particularly difficult for the sector to overcome. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 5
  • 6. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Listening to all radio The weekly reach of all radio (commercial + BBC + other) has remained relatively static within the range of 89 to 91% of the adult population. There is no evidence that the population is turning away from the radio medium. Table X All radio weekly reach (% of adults 15+) 89.9 89.6 89.7 90.1 90.3 89.9 90.0 89.7 89.6 89.3 90.4 90.4 90.6 89.1 89.3 90.2 90.8 90.8 91.3 90.2 90.3 90.5 88.7 89.1 89.5 90 89.9 89.9 90.0 91 90.6 90.9 91.1 90.4 90.8 90.2 90.1 90.1 91.5 92 89 Q1 1999 Q2 1999 Q3 1999 Q4 1999 Q1 2000 Q2 2000 Q3 2000 Q4 2000 Q1 2001 Q2 2001 Q3 2001 Q4 2001 Q1 2002 Q2 2002 Q3 2002 Q4 2002 Q1 2003 Q2 2003 Q3 2003 Q4 2003 Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004 Q1 2005 Q2 2005 Q3 2005 Q4 2005 Q1 2006 Q2 2006 Q3 2006 Q4 2006 Q1 2007 Q2 2007 Q3 2007 Q4 2007 Q1 2008 88 [Source: RAJAR] The picture of sustained levels of reach remains true, even when one analyses the situation in the main adult demographics. Table X All radio weekly reach by age group (% of age group) 91.1 86.7 85.8 86.2 90.2 91.5 92.8 92.1 91.9 92.8 92.6 89.6 89.2 90 90.7 90.8 91.5 91.6 93.0 95 85 15-24 year olds 25-34 year olds 35-44 year olds 45-54 year olds 55-64 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard 65+ year olds Q1 2007 Q1 2008 page 6
  • 7. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT [Source: RAJAR] While the reach of radio has remained almost static, it is the time spent listening that has demonstrated significant change. The average time spent listening to all radio increased during the first half of the decade but appears to have been in decline since then. The data makes more sense when one analyses the trends of the different demographics in this regard. 23 23.2 23.1 23.5 23.5 22.7 22.6 22.8 22.4 23 23.9 24.0 24.0 23.9 24.1 23.9 23.8 24.4 24.5 24.7 24.4 24.4 24.4 24.0 23.2 23.2 24 24.0 23.8 23.6 24 23.6 23.6 24.0 25 23.9 23.9 24.2 24.4 25 24.8 24.7 24.6 Table X All radio average hours per week per listener (adults 15+) Q1 1999 Q2 1999 Q3 1999 Q4 1999 Q1 2000 Q2 2000 Q3 2000 Q4 2000 Q1 2001 Q2 2001 Q3 2001 Q4 2001 Q1 2002 Q2 2002 Q3 2002 Q4 2002 Q1 2003 Q2 2003 Q3 2003 Q4 2003 Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004 Q1 2005 Q2 2005 Q3 2005 Q4 2005 Q1 2006 Q2 2006 Q3 2006 Q4 2006 Q1 2007 Q2 2007 Q3 2007 Q4 2007 Q1 2008 22 [Source: RAJAR] Average hours listened to all radio has diminished within all age groups, but is starkly down in the younger demographics. Listening amongst 15 to 24 year olds fell to 18.2 hours per week in Q1 2008, down 16% from four years earlier. Similarly, listening amongst 25 to 34 year olds fell to 19.8 hours per week, a 12% fall from four years earlier. There are many more competitors to radio for entertainment now, including digital TV, the internet, portable media players and mobile phones, and the time pressures are continuing to grow. These trends would seem to contradict a conclusion of recently published Radio Advertising Bureau research in which 57% of a sample of 15 to 44 year olds said “the amount of radio I listen to has increased over the last two years”.2 Amongst 15 to 24 year olds, 66% said they listened to radio more. Furthermore, although the report documented “the upward trend in audience numbers [of 15 to 24 year olds] since 1999”, the increase in absolute reach is due to the population increase in this demographic, rather than an improvement in radio’s performance. 2 Radio Advertising Bureau. Radio And The Digital Native, report, [undated]. p.8. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 7
  • 8. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT 26.9 24.3 24.2 22.7 19.8 22.5 22.2 21.6 22 21.0 24 23.5 23.3 25.2 26 26.3 26.0 26.4 27.1 28 27.5 Table X All radio average hours per week per listener by age group 18.2 20 18 15-24 year olds 25-34 year olds 35-44 year olds 45-54 year olds 55-64 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 65+ year olds Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] Radio continues to be a mass medium, reaching 45.4 million adults per week or 90% of the adult population. The erosion of radio listening is the result of less time being spent with the medium, not from the population turning away from radio altogether. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 8
  • 9. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Listening to the BBC Although total listening to radio is falling due to lower listening levels, commercial radio’s listening is falling even faster. The beneficiary of these changes has been the BBC, which reported “record levels” of reach and share in Q1 2008.3 Although there are quarter-on-quarter fluctuations, the march of the BBC does seem to have been inexorably upward since its nadir of 47.2% in 1995 (prior to the launch of the RAJAR metric in 1999).4 Table X BBC radio share of adult (15+) listening to all radio (%) 51.3 51.0 51.1 51.4 51.7 52.1 51.3 51.6 54 50 50.3 49.0 50.3 52 53.4 52.6 52.6 52.6 52.5 53.5 53.0 51.8 52.9 52.6 53.1 56 54.4 54.0 54.2 54.0 54.6 55.1 55.4 54.7 54.3 54.4 56.0 54.3 54.4 55.4 56.8 58 1999Q1 1999Q2 1999Q3 1999Q4 2000Q1 2000Q2 2000Q3 2000Q4 2001Q1 2001Q2 2001Q3 2001Q4 2002Q1 2002Q2 2002Q3 2002Q4 2003Q1 2003Q2 2003Q3 2003Q4 2004Q1 2004Q2 2004Q3 2004Q4 2005Q1 2005Q2 2005Q3 2005Q4 2006Q1 2006Q2 2006Q3 2006Q4 2007Q1 2007Q2 2007Q3 2007Q4 2008Q1 48 [Source: RAJAR] In commercial radio’s ‘heartland audience’ of 15 to 44 year olds, the gains made by the BBC have proven particularly significant. A decade ago, the BBC’s share was around a third, whereas now it is approaching a half. Commercial radio’s losses in its most strategically important demographic would seem to have all been to the BBC’s gain. This growth in the BBC’s share of listening by 15 to 44 year olds is the result of three noteworthy shifts in listening to specific stations and platforms:  BBC Radio One’s resurgent success in attracting listening from 15 to 44 year olds (the station’s share of all radio listening is up from 14% in 2003 to 20% in 2008)  BBC Radio Two’s hugely increased success with 15 to 44 year olds (the station’s share of all radio listening has doubled from 6% in 2000 to 12% in 2008)  The BBC’s portfolio of digital radio stations (launched in 200X) collectively attract 2% of all radio listening in 2008 amongst 15 to 44 year olds5 3 BBC. Digital Listening Drives BBC Radio To New Records, press release, 1 May 2008. p.1. JICRAR, Q4 1995. 5 The BBC digital stations are 1Xtra, Five Live Sports Extra, 6 Music, BBC7, Asian Network and the domestic simulcast of BBC World Service. 4 Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 9
  • 10. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Table X BBC radio share of 15 to 44 year olds listening to all radio (%) 46.9 48 44 37.1 37.6 38.1 37.8 37.2 37.5 38.8 38.9 38.3 39.3 39.5 39.2 39.1 38.7 37.5 38.4 39.1 39.0 40.5 40.6 42 42.0 41.5 42.5 43.3 42.9 43.4 40.9 43.8 44.6 43.8 43.8 44.2 46 40 38 1999Q1 1999Q2 1999Q3 1999Q4 2000Q1 2000Q2 2000Q3 2000Q4 2001Q1 2001Q2 2001Q3 2001Q4 2002Q1 2002Q2 2002Q3 2002Q4 2003Q1 2003Q2 2003Q3 2003Q4 2004Q1 2004Q2 2004Q3 2004Q4 2005Q1 2005Q2 2005Q3 2005Q4 2006Q1 2006Q2 2006Q3 2006Q4 2007Q1 2007Q2 2007Q3 2007Q4 2008Q1 36 [Source: RAJAR] By comparison, the BBC’s other networks – Radio Three, Radio Four, Five Live and local radio – have evidently made few advances within the 15 to 44 demographic. Table X BBC radio share by network of 15 to 44 year olds listening to all radio (%) 50 45 40 35 30 25 3.9 4.4 4.0 3.9 5.0 4.7 3.9 0.9 4.0 3.9 5.5 4.2 5.1 4.7 5.1 4.2 1.3 3.4 4.2 1.4 3.7 1.6 3.8 4.7 2.3 2.0 3.7 3.7 4.7 11.3 10.7 3.9 3.6 4.6 4.8 11.8 10.5 6.0 7.3 9.6 10.7 10.6 17.8 16.4 14.3 17.6 19.7 14.0 16.0 20.2 15.2 Q1 2000 20 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 15 10 5 0 BBC Radio 1 BBC Local/Regional BBC Radio 2 BBC Digital Radio BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 3 BBC Five Live [Source: RAJAR] Amongst 15 to 24 year olds, the BBC’s strength can be credited to the resurgence of Radio One since 2004 in this demographic. Additionally, the Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 10
  • 11. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT BBC digital station 1Xtra alone contributed 1.6% to the digital radio sub-total of 2.9%. Table X BBC radio share by network of 15 to 24 year olds listening to all radio (%) 45 40 35 30 25 1.8 1.5 2.1 2.0 2.2 1.7 2.4 1.9 2.0 3.0 1.0 4.0 1.6 1.7 1.8 2.7 3.7 24.2 23.8 22.1 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 20 15 26.1 10 2.6 2.1 2.8 1.9 2.3 1.6 2.4 1.5 4.0 2.7 2.0 1.6 1.8 3.6 4.3 1.9 1.8 1.9 2.2 4.2 22.8 20.1 23.5 25.2 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 2.1 2.5 2.7 2.9 4.2 27.1 5 0 Q1 2000 BBC Radio 1 BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 2 BBC Five Live Q1 2004 BBC Digital Radio BBC Radio 3 Q1 2008 BBC Local/Regional [Source: RAJAR] It is the 25 to 34 year old age group that has swung so noticeably from commercial radio to the BBC. Radio Two has almost doubled its share of this demographic’s listening to 10% since 2000, while Radio One has increased its share by almost a quarter to 26% since 2000. Interestingly, Radio One’s share amongst 25 to 34 year olds (26%) is now almost as great as its share amongst 15 to 24 year olds (27%), whereas eight years earlier the former was leading the latter by almost 6 percentage points. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 11
  • 12. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Table X BBC radio share by network of 25 to 34 year olds listening to all radio (%) 50 45 40 4.1 35 3.4 30 3.7 4.1 3.7 3.7 5.1 6.7 25 3.7 3.9 4.4 0.6 3.7 4.1 4.7 3.6 3.8 4.6 9.7 11.4 4.1 20.3 19.3 3.4 3.5 10.4 9.7 25.7 25.5 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 8.8 10.8 15 10 2.2 3.4 3.4 4.4 4.4 1.4 3.2 4.3 1.2 3.2 11.1 20 2.1 3.0 1.7 3.5 19.7 16.9 14.9 17.0 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 22.0 5 0 Q1 2000 Q1 2001 BBC Radio 1 BBC Local/Regional BBC Radio 2 BBC Digital Radio Q1 2005 Q1 2006 BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 3 BBC Five Live [Source: RAJAR] Amongst 35 to 44 year olds, Radio Two has almost doubled its share of listening between 2000 and 2008 to 19%. Radio One has also shown some increases, though its listening is at a a much lower threshold. Table X BBC radio share by network of 35 to 44 year olds listening to all radio (%) 50 2.0 45 40 35 30 25 5.7 6.5 5.1 5.9 5.8 1.0 5.0 5.3 1.2 4.7 1.1 4.9 5.5 6.4 5.3 8.4 7.7 8.2 8.6 8.1 7.3 20 9.6 13.7 14.9 15.9 16.5 10.9 9.8 8.7 7.7 7.7 8.2 8.3 Q1 2000 15 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 1.5 1.7 4.9 5.4 5.7 5.0 6.6 7.6 16.5 15.0 10.5 11.4 11.8 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 4.7 5.4 6.9 18.5 10 5 0 BBC Radio 1 BBC Local/Regional BBC Radio 2 BBC Digital Radio Q1 2005 Q1 2006 BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 3 BBC Five Live [Source: RAJAR] In sum, the BBC has benefited immensely from Radio One’s audience making headway with older audiences and Radio Two’s audience making headway with younger audiences. This has created a ‘pincer’ movement on commercial Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 12
  • 13. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT radio’s ‘heartland audience’ of 15 to 44 year olds and has resulted in significant losses of listening and what the sector had previously concerned its most significant demographic. The result has been a significant uplift in the BBC’s share across all constituent age group’s of commercial radio’s ‘heartland audience’. Table X BBC radio share by age group of listening to all radio (% of age group) 49.6 42.9 46.6 46.1 44.7 40.9 39.9 39.4 39.7 44.8 36.6 34.6 34.0 31.6 32 33.4 34 32.1 36 33.6 38 37.5 37.1 40 38.9 42 38.2 41.7 44 40.1 46 43.9 48 43.9 50 48.0 48.6 52 30 15-24 year olds Q1 2000 Q1 2001 Q1 2002 25-34 year olds Q1 2003 Q1 2004 Q1 2005 35-44 year olds Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] The BBC already dominates the older demographics (aged 45+) in radio listening (largely because commercial radio has no equivalent of Radio Four) and the danger is that soon the BBC could dominate all demographics in radio. In the long term, this could jeopardise commercial radio’s ability to sell mass audiences to its advertisers, particularly when if it appeals to a diminishing minority across all demographics. It is worth examining the two music stations, Radio one and Radio Two, in turn as these are main beneficiaries of the commercial sector’s loss of audience. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 13
  • 14. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The ‘ageing’ of BBC Radio One The Service Licence for Radio One published by the BBC Trust states that the network “should reflect the lives and interests of 15-29 year olds but also embrace others who share similar tastes”.6 One of the criteria used by the Trust to measure the performance of Radio One is the network’s “weekly reach, particularly amongst its stated target audience”.7 However, whilst the network’s reach amongst 15 to 24 year olds has been declining in the long run, its reach amongst 25 to 34 year olds has been increasing. If this trend continues, it might only be a few years before Radio One’s reach amongst 25 to 34 year olds is greater than amongst its core 15 to 24 year old demographic. Table X BBC Radio One weekly reach (% of age group) 41.4 40.9 24.6 23.9 21.6 20.9 20.9 21.4 25 21.2 25.7 30 21.9 37.7 35.8 35.3 35.2 35 34.0 39.7 40 37.2 44.3 42.9 45 42.9 46.5 45.9 52.9 50.0 50 51.2 55 50.3 60 20 15 10 5 0 15-24 Q1 2000 Q1 2001 25-34 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 35-44 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] Although Radio One’s target audience is defined in its Licence as 15 to 29 year olds, its frontline presenters are all beyond that demographic. It is hardly surprising that, as the age of its daytime presenters increases, the age of its audience has increased too. Much of radio’s appeal is about the empathy experienced between the listener and the on-air presenter. Put simply, even as they move beyond the 15 to 29 year old target demographic, listeners are increasingly staying with Radio One. 6 7 BBC Trust. Radio One Service Licence, 7 April 2008. p.1. BBC Trust. Radio One Service Licence, 7 April 2008. p.7. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 14
  • 15. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Table X BBC Radio One weekday daytime presenters presenter Chris Moyles Jo Whiley Edith Bowman Scott Mills programme age joined Radio One 0630-1000 34 1997 1000-1245 42 1992 1300-1600 33 2003 1600-1900 34 1998 Radio One’s share of radio listening is growing not only in the 25 to 34 year old demographic, but is now starting to make headway amongst 35 to 44 year olds, who one would think would be well outside its target audience. Table X BBC Radio One share of all radio listening (% within age group) 25.7 22.0 19.7 17.0 19.3 20.3 11.8 11.4 8.3 8.2 7.7 7.7 9.8 10 8.7 15 10.5 14.9 16.9 20 25.5 27.1 25.2 23.5 22.8 20.1 23.8 22.1 25 24.2 26.1 30 5 15-24 Q1 2000 Q1 2001 25-34 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 35-44 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] It would appear that, despite marketing itself to Licence Payers as the BBC’s youth radio station, Radio One is pursuing a policy that is attracting significant listening amongst an audience over the age of 29 years and, in the process, has attracted considerable listening away from commercial radio’s ‘heartland audience’. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 15
  • 16. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The ‘youth-ing’ of BBC Radio Two The Service Licence for Radio Two published by the BBC Trust states that the network is “targeted at a broad audience, appealing to all age groups over 35”.8 One of the criteria used by the Trust to measure the performance of Radio Two is the network’s “weekly reach, particularly amongst its stated target audience”.9 The network’s reach amongst 35 to44 year olds has increased spectacularly, nearly doubling (up 92%) since 2000 to 19% in 2008. However, at the same time, its reach amongst 25 to 34 year olds has grown similarly by 89% to 2008. Table X BBC Radio Two weekly reach (% of age group) 16.5 15.0 16.5 15.9 10.9 9.6 10.4 8.8 9.7 11.1 11.4 9.7 5.1 4.2 4.3 4.2 4.0 4.0 3.6 2.7 2.0 5 3.7 6.7 10 10.8 13.7 15 14.9 18.5 20 0 15-24 Q1 2000 Q1 2001 25-34 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 35-44 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] In recent years, Radio Two has employed two relatively youthful presenters for its weekday daytime shows that have helped reduce considerably the average age of its audience. Jeremy Vine took over the lunchtime show in 2003, aged 37, replacing Jimmy Young who was retired at the age of 81. Chris Evans took over the drivetime show in 2006, aged 40, replacing Johnnie Walker, then aged 61. Both appointments created some consternation amongst Radio Two’s older listeners, but have proven to be successful in attracting a younger audience to the network. 8 9 BBC Trust. Radio Two Service Licence, 7 April 2008. p.1. BBC Trust. Radio Two Service Licence, 7 April 2008. p.7. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 16
  • 17. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Table X BBC Radio Two weekday daytime presenters presenter Sarah Kennedy Terry Wogan Ken Bruce Jeremy Vine Steve Wright Chris Evans programme age joined Radio Two 0600-0730 57 1976 0730-0930 69 1972 0930-1200 57 1984 1200-1400 42 2003 1400-1700 53 1996 1700-1900 42 2005 Radio Two’s share of listening has grown within the target 35 to 44 year old demographic, but the increased share amongst 25 to 34 year olds has proportionately shown even greater growth, almost doubling since 2000. Even amongst 15 to 24 year olds, their share of listening has increased to record levels. Table X BBC Radio Two share of all radio listening (% within age group) 31.0 28.2 29.1 28.2 27.8 20.8 19.1 20.1 19.4 16.9 21.6 14.1 11.6 11.5 11.6 11.2 10.9 10.0 8.6 7.5 10 11.7 15 11.6 20 20.8 19.4 25 20.5 27.1 30 26.8 35 5 0 15-24 Q1 2000 Q1 2001 25-34 Q1 2002 Q1 2003 Q1 2004 35-44 Q1 2005 Q1 2006 Q1 2007 Q1 2008 [Source: RAJAR] Radio Two is displaying considerable appeal outside of its target demographic, undoubtedly helped by the hiring of younger presenters in two of its key daytime shows. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 17
  • 18. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The commercial radio viewpoint The audiences of Radio One and Radio Two would both seem to be converging, albeit slowly, at their edges upon the 25 to 34 year old demographic. The evidence of this ‘middle ground’ increasingly shared by both stations is confirmed by analysis of their current music playlists (these playlists, updated weekly, make up the vast majority of music played on each station during its daytime output).10  60% of the songs on the current ‘A’ playlist of Radio Two are also on the current playlist of Radio One  45% of the songs on the current ‘B’ playlist of Radio Two are also on the current playlist of Radio One. The commercial radio sector has long argued that the BBC strategy is to deliberately squeeze its ‘heartland audience’ through the re-positioning of Radios One and Two. Paul Brown, former Chief Executive of commercial radio’s trade association: “In an incredibly competitive market, commercial radio is now facing two versions of Radio One”.11 Steve Orchard, former Group Operations Director of GCap Media, said that Radio Two had decided to “desert the over-65s and bring in fundamentally Radio One deejays” so that “it’s all about Radio One and Two moving over to the mainstream commercial heartland…...12 The sector’s trade association has argued that “the major re-positioning that has taken place at Radios One and Two” is the result of “a concerted strategy to target younger listeners” by the BBC.13 In particular, it argues that “BBC Radio has chosen to re-focus what was the natural home for these listeners, Radio 2, into commercial radio’s heartland”.14 Former GCap Media Operations Director Steve Orchard said Of Radio Two: “Once you commit to a strategy that is specifically designed to drive market share and pursue a younger audience, you are targeting commercial radio’s heartland, whether you admit it or not”.15 Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive of RadioCentre: “Radio Two hasn’t brought new listeners into radio. It’s taken listeners from the commercial sector. It has ended up targeting commercial radio’s heartland, where we were already delivering listeners”.16 10 BBC. ‘Radio One playlist’, dated 7 May 2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/playlist/ BBC. ‘Radio Two Playlist’, dated 10 May 2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/playlist/ The songs common to both playlists were: ‘Violet Hill’ by Coldplay, ‘Love Song’ by Sara Bareilles, ‘Daylight’ by Kelly Rowland, ‘Move On’ by David Jordan, ‘Dust’ by Royworld, ‘Warwick Avenue’ by Duffy, ‘Always Right Behind You’ by The Zutons, ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow, ‘Falling Out Of Reach’ by Guillemots, ‘Say (All I Need)’ by Onerepublic, and ‘Take A Bow’ by Rihanna. 11 Tim Luckhurst. ‘Chris Evans – it could take a White Paper to shut him up’, The Independent, 12 March 2006. 12 Ian Burrell, ‘Commercial radio: Right back after the break’, The Independent, 5 February 2007. 13 Commercial Radio Companies Association. Submission to Lord Burns’ seminar on the BBC Licence Fee by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, April 2006, p.2. 14 Commercial Radio Companies Association. Submission to Lord Burns’ seminar on the BBC Licence Fee by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, April 2006, p.4. 15 Tim Luckhurst. ‘Is cool Radio 2 now too hot for its own good?’, The Independent, 10 December 2006. 16 Kevin Young. ‘Two’s not company for radio rivals’, BBC News, 25 September 2007 Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 18
  • 19. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT In 2005, commercial radio’s trade association noted that “Radio Two’s re-focus has dramatically increased its appeal to younger listeners, with 35% of its songs coming from the past five years and 48% from the past fifteen years”.17 As a result, “the greatest growth in audience increase is in the youngest demographics and listening amongst those aged 65+ has dropped”.18 In 2007, commercial radio’s trade association informed the BBC Trust of its observation that Radio One and Radio Two “are delivering audiences significantly different in profile from that outlined in their Service Licences”.19 On Radio One, it noted the “disparity” between the station’s average listener’s age of 33 and its Service Licence specifying 15 to 29 year olds, and concluded that “its inappropriately ‘old’ targeting are out of step”.20 On Radio Two, it noted the average age of a listener as 50.21 RadioCentre concluded: “Between them, Radios One and Two are actually occupying the centre ground of demographics more than their Service Licences suggest, thus bringing them into direct competition not only with each other, but also with commercial radio”.22 “These two stations are, as a result, congregating in the middle ground of demographic appeal, bringing them into direct competition with commercial radio, whose livelihood and ability to contribute to a pluralistic Public Service Content ecology depends on delivering large audience numbers to advertisers”.23 The commercial radio trade association believes that “continuing with the current strategy will result in, potentially, a significant threat to the viability of smaller commercial radio stations and, potentially, the industry more generally …..”.24 17 Commercial Radio Companies Association, Response to the Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, May 2005, p.21 18 Commercial Radio Companies Association, Response to the Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, May 2005, p.32. 19 RadioCentre, RadioCentre response to BBC Trust Consultation on the BBC’s new Service Licences, April 2007, p.3. 20 RadioCentre, RadioCentre response to BBC Trust Consultation on the BBC’s new Service Licences, April 2007, p.12. 21 RadioCentre, RadioCentre response to BBC Trust Consultation on the BBC’s new Service Licences, April 2007, p.17. 22 RadioCentre, RadioCentre response to BBC Trust Consultation on the BBC’s new Service Licences, April 2007, p.12. 23 RadioCentre, RadioCentre response to BBC Trust Consultation on the BBC’s new Service Licences, April 2007, p.17. 24 Commercial Radio Companies Association. Submission to Lord Burns’ seminar on the BBC Licence Fee by the Commercial Radio Companies Association, April 2006, p.7. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 19
  • 20. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT The BBC viewpoint However, when asked if competition existed between the two BBC networks, Radio One Controller Andy Parfitt responded: “The BBC is designed to have something for everyone in the population. It would be wrong to have two brands competing with each other. There is very little crossover and that should remain so”.25 Andy Parfitt: “But Radio One is not all about ratings – it’s about serving a particular audience in a busy fragmented market”.26 Former Radio Two Controller Jim Moir said that, when appointed in 199X, the network was suitable for “aunts, mum and dad, and certainly granny” and that “I was given a task: introduce a new audience and keep the loyalty of the [Radio Two] heartland audience”.27 Lesley Douglas, who succeeded Moir as Controller in 2004, said: “I think the mix of familiar and unfamiliar [music], and the [appeal to a] broad age range has always been the same”.28 Lesley Douglas: “All that commercial radio can see is that we have got younger, but we haven’t. We have 70-year olds listening to some shows and 20-year olds listening to others”.29 Asked if Radio Two is unfairly competing with commercial radio, Lesley Douglas: “I don’t think there’s any point answering the claim. We are so different from anything else. If you look at the range of music we play and – to be boring about it – look at the statistics, the crossover with commercial radio is absolutely minimal”.30 Lesley Douglas: “I don’t think of a listener in terms of age either. I think people can become fixated by age ….”.31 25 Anthony Barnes. ‘Media: Gold but no longer old – how Radio 2 beat the age gap’, The Independent On Sunday, 14 March 2004. 26 Anthony Barnes. ‘Media: Gold but no longer old – how Radio 2 beat the age gap’, The Independent On Sunday, 14 March 2004. 27 Vincent Graff. ‘Media: Plucky Jim’, The Independent, 20 May 2003. 28 Kevin Young. ‘Two’s not company for radio rivals’, BBC News, 25 September 2007. 29 ‘Privatisation off the agenda as pop radio faces….’, Music Week, 21 August 2004. 30 Ian Burrell, ‘Lesley Douglas: Radio 2 Controller on the rise and rise of Britain’s biggest station’, The Independent, 28 November 2005. 31 Anthony Barnes. ‘Media: Gold but no longer old – how Radio 2 beat the age gap’, The Independent On Sunday, 14 March 2004. Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 20
  • 21. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Summary Former GCap Media Chief Executive Ralph Bernard: “There’s probably more money going into Radio Two than most of commercial radio put together”.32 [insert BBC radio budget table] John Myers, Chief Executive of GMG Radio: “They have an enormous budget that anyone in commercial radio would regard as excessive”.33 A year ago, EMAP Radio Group Managing Director said: “Commercial radio has to be commercial, and has to appeal to the 15 to 44 age group. In that area, whichever you slice and dice it, commercial radio is dominant”.34 [insert 15-44 table here] Paul Robinson: “Some of commercial radio’s loss to Radio Two is the commercial sector’s own fault. They have not been at their creative best in recent years. But the problem is real because research proves that once someone becomes a Radio Two listener, they do not want to leave. Commercial stations find it almost impossible to pull them back out of the pot”.35 Mark Radcliffe, who started as a producer in commercial radio and now presents for Radio Two: “Sometimes, you hear people from commercial radio saying, ‘Why are Radio One and Radio Two paid for by the licence fee? We could do that.’ Well, you could, maybe bits of it, but you don’t. It is a great insult to Radio One and Radio Two and the breadth of programmes they provide to say that commercial radio is somehow duplicating that, because it isn’t. Commercial radio really has to look at where it wants to be. Does it want to be some kind of force for creativity and talent and edge, or does it want to be a vaguely kind of muzak service? Either is a viable option in terms of a business, but if you go for the muzak route, you can’t keep standing up and carping on about why Radio One and Radio Two are publicly funded, because the difference is quite manifest to anybody; for a long time, commercial radio took the softest option”.36 Tim Gardam: “There is a more significant issue I think of public benefit even here [in radio] than there is in debates on television” because “the disproportion in content investment in radio between what the BBC will invest in content and what commercial radio can afford in commercial business plan terms to invest in radio is far greater than their differential in television”.37 32 Kevin Young. ‘Two’s not company for radio rivals’, BBC News, 25 September 2007 Kevin Young. ‘Two’s not company for radio rivals’, BBC News, 25 September 2007 34 Ian Burrell, ‘Commercial radio: Right back after the break’, The Independent, 5 February 2007. 35 Tim Luckhurst. ‘Is cool Radio 2 now too hot for its own good?’, The Independent, 10 December 2006. 36 John Plunkett. ‘Made in Manchester’, The Guardian, 28 May 2007. 37 BBC. BBC Charter Review Seminar: BBC Radio, 28 October 2004, p.2. 33 Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 21
  • 22. INCOMPLETE DRAFT REPORT Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk Commercial Radio's 'Heartland Audience': Where Did Their Love Go? [incomplete draft] ©2008 Grant Goddard page 22