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Radio survey: More FM boasts biggest growth again, Magic waves its wand to listeners and Coast enjoys success

Another round of radio results brings with it the news that New Zealand radio is a steady business. Commercial radio has retained its 3.4 million New Zealanders (10+) tuning in each week, giving both MediaWorks and NZME reason to celebrate. We break down the results to see how More FM, Coast and Magic had standout performances, while The Breeze and Mai lost some footing.

By Caitlin Salter | September 21, 2018 | news

Both NZME and MediaWorks are celebrating the results of the third GfK survey for 2018, with the findings showing commercial radio is on steady ground in New Zealand. Total radio listening numbers held firm from the previous survey, with 3.66 million New Zealanders (10+) listening to the radio, and 3.4 million tuning into to commercial radio each week.

NZME’s combo saw its total cumulative audience rise 26,900 listeners to 1,968,900 New Zealanders (10+), while MediaWorks’ combo was down 32,300 to 2,403,500, after a total rise of 18,200 in the previous survey. With 434,600 listeners separating the two companies, the gap has lessened slightly from 493,800 in July’s results.

There was no change to the top 10 lineup, with The Edge still sitting on top with 624,400 New Zealanders (10+) tuning in, followed by More FM’s 586,700 listeners and The Breeze’s 521,600. ZM has switched spots with Newstalk ZB for fourth position, with 516,300 listeners (up 11,500).

Winners

More FM

More FM was once again the station with the biggest growth in the survey, with its total audience of New Zealanders (10+) growing by 20,300 to reach 586,700. The growth comes after a steady rise in listeners over the last two surveys, with a growth of 60,833 in the year to date.

When looking at the demographics, the most significant growth came in the lucrative 25-44 age group, up 20,600 to 215,200. The wider, 25-54 demographic also grew by 11,700. Leon Wratt, MediaWorks Radio group content director, says the continued growth is significant.

“More FM’s terrific result is the most significant because it sits in that 25-54 group so it’s a really commercially significant group.”

The growth comes despite small dips in every weekday time slot, except the crucial drive-time slot, which grew by 21,800 to 291,400 listeners (10+). The growth in the time slot coincides with the new-look offering from More FM, with Jay-Jay Feeney joining Jason Gunn for the 3pm to 7pm slot (the increase in listeners is in the 4pm-7pm timeframe).

Wratt says the show is hitting the sweet spot for listeners at the moment.

“Jase and Jay-Jay have formed a really strong partnership on the air and the audience is really enjoying it.”

The Edge’s drive show has also increased its listeners since the last survey, with 9,100 more New Zealanders tuning in to Jono, Ben and Sharyn. The increase comes after the return of Sharyn Casey from maternity leave. Wratt says the increase is no coincidence.

“It shows the power of our women hosts at the moment. With Jay-Jay powering the More FM drive show incredibly well, and Sharyn re-joining the boys and delivering really strong results.”

Looking across the surveyed regions, More FM was the number one station in Christchurch, Northland, Manawatu and Southland.

Coast

For NZME’s lineup, Coast had significant growth, with an increase in 19,300 New Zealanders (10+) tuning in each week, taking the total number up to 396,500. The increase pushes Coast up to ninth position, switching spots with MediaWorks’ The Sound.

The station launched a new breakfast offering this year, with former TVNZ presenter and Newstalk ZB newsreader Bernadine Oliver-Kerby moving to Coast in January. Breakfast with Jason Reeves and Oliver-Kerby has been well-received by listeners, evident in 186,000 listeners (10+) tuning into the timeslot each week – up 11,600 from the previous survey.

Dean Buchanan says Coast has gone from strength to strength this year, with the new breakfast show playing a key role in that.

“I’m stoked for Coast’s Breakfast with Jason Reeves and Bernadine Oliver-Kerby, their popularity and success has grown.”

Coast is now ahead of its rival The Breeze in the 55-74 demographic, with 201,200 listeners compared to the Breeze’s 164,800 listeners. However, it still falls behind The Breeze in the station’s target audience group of 45-64, with 172,300 listeners compared to The Breeze’s 197,900 – but Coast did see 17,200 growth in this demographic since the last survey.

Coast also ranked highly in the regional breakdown, coming in second in terms of total audience (10+) in Tauranga, third in Rotorua and fourth in Northland and Southland.

Magic

One of the newest kids on the block had one of the highest growths this survey, with Magic climbing up the ranks. The station continues to see gains across the board, with an increase in national share, as well as hitting 220,500 listeners – up 17,300 from the previous survey.

Magic’s momentum has continued, rising from number 14 station in the country to 12, following the trajectory of the last few surveys.

Aimed at the 50-69 age bracket, Magic grew its listeners by 16,100 in the 45-64 demographic, and 15,500 in the 55-74 group. The station also ranked fourth in the Tauranga and Hawke’s Bay markets, with 20,700 and 16,600 listeners (10+) in each place respectively.

Wratt says the exponential growth of Magic has been exciting to see.

“Magic continues to be a star performer and it had a great book. It’s a new station for us and the fact that it continues to grow every survey is extremely promising.”

Losers

The Breeze

Seeing the biggest drop for the second survey in a row was The Breeze, with its total New Zealand audience (10+) down 30,500 to 521,600. The latest blow comes after the station dropped 28,600 listeners in the July survey.

The latest figures are in stark contrast to the first survey of the year, when The Breeze grew its audience 52,100 to 580,700, reaching second place for its total New Zealand audience (10+) across all stations. It remains third behind The Edge (624,400) and More FM (586,700).

The drop was right across all demographics, except for the 45-64 age group which remained steady at 197,900, slightly up from 197,700 in the last survey. The 25-54 demographic saw the biggest drop with a loss of 21,600 listeners, down to 246,800.

All time slots suffered losses on The Breeze, particularly the weekday morning and evening slots, both of which lost over 16,000 listeners.

Despite the drops, The Breeze remains one of the top 10 stations in every region, coming in third in Christchurch, Wellington and Manawatu.

Wratt says fluctuations in the numbers at different stations between surveys is to be expected.

“Most of the stations have stayed really consistent and that seems to be industry-wide at the moment. You’ll always get your individual ups and downs, but generally, listenership remains high across commercial radio so we’re happy with that.”

Mai

MediaWorks suffered another blow with Mai coming in with the second biggest fall in numbers for this survey. The total number of listeners (10+) was down 25,700 to 429,000.

In Auckland alone, Mai lost 18,100 listeners (10+) from the last survey, although the station remains in the number one spot for the Auckland region. In the July survey, Mai was up 18,400 in the Auckland region.

Mai listen numbers dropped across every demographic, with the station seeing its biggest loss in its target 18-34 age group which was down 13,400 from the last survey.

Across the different time slots, the drive show, Mai Home Run with Dani and Fam saw the biggest numbers drop, down 36,800 listeners to 198,700. Mai Morning Crew with Nickson, Nate and Lily also saw a stiff drop, down 25,400 listeners to 232,300.

Honourable mentions

Mix

Further down the ranks, but with impressive results this survey, is Mix, which grew its audience by 17,900 to 117,400 listeners (10+). The station saw growth in all demographics, particularly the 45-64 age group with an extra 16,100 listeners tuning in each week.

With only one presenter, Mix has a slightly unusual radio offering for New Zealand, but the audience results prove breakfast host Mel Homer is popular with listeners. Mix listeners in the 6am-9am time slot increased by 8,400 to 57,000 listeners (10+).

Mix also comes in at a comfortable sixth position in the ranks for the Northland demographic.

ZM

While not the biggest growth of the survey, ZM had an increase in 11,500 listeners (10+), taking the total listeners to 516,300 – making it NZME’s biggest station.

Buchanan says the station was deserving of a special mention.

“ZM is now NZME’s biggest station which is exciting as listeners are truly embracing the changes we’ve made in recent years. Bree and Clint have debuted strongly in afternoon Drive. They’re a natural pairing with great rapport and will go from strength-to-strength.”

Bree Tomasel and Clint Roberts took over the drive show on July 2, replacing pre-recorded clips from previous ZM drive show hosts’ Jase and PJ’s Australian breakfast show. The new show is ahead of The Edge’s Jono, Ben and Sharyn’s drive show in the Auckland market, at 102,700 listeners compared to The Edge’s 92,600.

Digital radio

Now more than ever, local radio can follow you wherever you go, whether you’re in New Zealand or abroad. Wratt says the fact that radio is such a passive medium is crucial to the industry’s success in a digital world.

“Radio is such a great mobile medium, it can follow you everywhere: on the boat, in the car, or in bed. The fact that is can be consumed digitally now means it’s literally available anywhere around the world.”

To keep up with the changing times, MediaWorks’ Rova platform and app are continuing to evolve. It has gained another 50,000 downloads since the previous survey period and averages 84,00 unique users a month (Adobe Analytics). The total number of app downloads is now 350,000.

“We’ve got a new version [of Rova] to be released early next year, with a bunch of new features that we hope will extend our digital offering even further. It’s going to be an important part of our future,” Wratt says.

Over at NZME, iHeartRadio has delivered a 22 percent growth year-on-year, with more than 800,000 registered users (according to iHeartMedia results in August this year). The platform has an average of 2.9 million listening hours each month.

The last GfK Total New Zealand Commercial Radio Survey for 2018 will be released in December.

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