John Clancy, managing director of Carat, looks at the latest batch of figures from the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR)
OVERALL LISTENING TRENDS
The latest book of radio listenership research from IPSOS MRBI covers a rolling year from April 16 to March 17 and shows Ireland’s love of radio endures. No surprise there – it’s been nothing if not an eventful last 12 months, with US elections, Brexit, Syrian Conflict and Repeal the 8th marches – and radio has been there to cover it all. This rolling year of data includes the first indications of how stations are faring in 2017 (Jan-Mar), but we must be cautious in drawing definitive conclusions from one quarter of data, so in many cases we will compare ‘Period-On-Period’ i.e. Apr15-Mar16 v Apr16-Mar17 for a more robust view.
The National picture, at a top line level, shows a solid result with all stations posting modest increases period on period; Radio 1 is up 13,000; 2FM is up 3,000; Lyric is up 5,000, Newstalk is up 7,000 and only Today FM is down (by 5,000). Radio 1 retains its’ dominant position with over double the amount of people having tuned in ‘Yesterday’ (904,000) than its’ nearest rival (Today FM with 410,000). Looking at what we call ‘Book On Book’ (2016 v Apr16-Mar17) the National station performance is even more positive with all stations showing increases in the double digits of thousands, including Today FM who gained 18,000.
Looking at individual programmes we can see how certain presenters and shows are trending and where listenership is being won and lost. The only caveat is that when stations change their schedules, it can make it difficult to accurately compare programme results as you’re not comparing the same time bands. That said, the immovable object that is Morning Ireland continues to draw more listeners daily than any other radio programme in Ireland. That’s 441,000 this time around, down slightly (-19,000) period on period, slightly less book on book (-7,000). Mid-morning on Radio 1 performed extremely well period on period with Tubridy up 14,000, Sean O’Rourke up 28,000 and Ronan Collins up 10,000. 2FM has seen very little change period on period, which is good news for them as their last book was a little weak.
It’s been a tumultuous year or so for the Communicorp stable of stations, on and off air. Breakfast on Today FM is down 13,000 period on period, albeit holding steady book on book at 167,000 daily listeners. Better news for Today FM is to be found in the afternoon slot (14.30-16.30) where Fergal D’Arcy has settled in and is growing his listenership steadily (up 22,000 period on period and 10,000 book on book). Newstalk Breakfast performance is more difficult to pin down because of the changes to schedule (was 7-10, now 7-9) and presenter line-up. However looking at book on book, we can see it’s down slightly (6,000) from 122,000 to 116,000. We’ll have to keep watching this slot, as the presenting line-up beds down. One winner on Newstalk is Sean Moncrieff, growing his new time slot of 14.00-16.00 by 11,000 book on book.
This has been a tough book when analysed period on period for the National stations in Dublin. Radio 1 has gained slightly (+6,000), Newstalk holds firm (no change), but both 2FM (-15,000) and Today FM (-19,000) see significant ‘Listened Yesterday’ losses. Similarly local Dublin stations FM104 (-11,000) and Spin 1038 (-7,000) saw some losses, while Q102 (+8,000) and 98FM (+4,000) fared better.
Looking closer purely at book on book, which gives a less robust, but more recent trend, FM104 is actually up (+9,000), as is Spin 1038 (+13,000).
This would indicate that the broader trend over a number of books of 98FM closing the gap on FM104 may be slowing. Winning programmes in Dublin book on book include 98FMs’ breakfast (+6,000) and Q102 breakfast (+6,000).
MAIN CITIES (EXC DUBLIN)
The battle for listeners in Cork continues – Cork 96FM has closed the gap in In Cork, Red FM has increased its’ lead over 96FM with 5,000 more listeners period on period, putting it 19,000 ahead of 96FM in this latest book. Elsewhere Limerick Live holds book on book, which means they’ve failed to reverse a significant decline period on period (-14,000). WLR remains steady at 40% listened daily as does Galway Bay FM at 38% when looked at book on book (although they’ve lost 8,000 period on period).