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Radio survey: More FM sees biggest growth, Newstalk ZB climbs back up, and Magic works its...magic

Another round of radio results and with the channel's total audience on the rise, up to 3.41 million New Zealanders (10+) tuning into commercial radio, there's reason for both MediaWorks' and NZME to celebrate. We break down the results to see how More FM, Newstalk ZB and Magic had standout performances while The Breeze and The Edge have lost some momentum.

By Erin McKenzie | July 6, 2018 | news

Radio’s growth was reflected in both NZME and MediaWorks’ results. NZME’s combo was up 13,800 to 1,942,000 New Zealanders (10+) while MediaWorks’ combo was up 18,200 to 2,435,800.

With 493,800 listeners separating them, the gap has widened since this time last year when there was 352,900 listeners between them. In 2017’s survey two, NZME’s combo drew in 1,921,700 listeners and MediaWorks’ combo reached 2,274,600.

The Edge still sits in number one with 621,500 New Zealanders (10+) tuning in, followed by More FM's 566,400 listeners and The Breeze's 552,100. However, with RNZ National sitting on 569,400 New Zealanders (10+) in the last non-commercial survey, it will be interesting to see where everyone stands when the second non-commercial station is released next week.

Winners

More FM

Seeing the biggest growth in the survey was More FM, which saw its total audience of New Zealanders (10+) grow 23,000 to reach 566,400.

It continued on the momentum from the last survey, in which there was an increase of 17,500 listeners to reach 543,400.

In this most recent survey, the growth is spread across all time slots and demographics with each seeing growth.

Looking at demographics in particular, it saw the greatest growth in the 25-54 age group, up 17,700 to 318,900.

Speaking about the station’s performance, MediaWorks Radio group content director of music Leon Wratt says More FM’s had a terrific result this survey and points out its breakfast shows across the country are particularly popular

Looking at the Total New Zealand survey, in the 6am 9am time slot, More FM was up 19,200 listeners to 359,400 to overtake Newstalk ZB for the breakfast crown. It’s building on the momentum seen in the last survey when it grew 26,100 to 340,200 listeners.

In the second survey of 2017, the 6-9am time slot saw a drop of 4,000 to 301,000.

Looking across the surveyed regions, More FM was number one in the 6-9am time slot in Manawatu, Southland, Christchurch and Northland.

Across total New Zealand audience, the station’s also seen an increase in the Jase & Jay-Jay drive show from 3pm-7pm weekdays.

In the survey’s 4pm-7pm time slot, a 4,900 increase can be seen for the station, bringing it to 269,600. This time last year, More FM had 249,900 listeners tuning in from 4-7pm.

Newstalk ZB

Also on the up in this survey was Newstalk ZB, with its total New Zealand audience (10+) seeing the addition to 16,300 listeners to reach 505,200.

It also holds top spot across all commercial stations for share with 10.9 percent with all New Zealanders (10+).

Shayne Currie, who heads up NZME’s News and Sport, says it’s rapt with the terrific result for the entire network and it’s no surprise when looking at the previous survey, in which it dropped 17,900 to 488,900 listeners.

New to Newstalk ZB’s line up this year are Kate Hawkesby and Heather du Plessis-Allan. They joined at the start of the year and they are already being seen to boost the numbers.

Currie says Hawkesby, who hosts Early Edition from 5am-6am, is seeing the best share result in 18 months. The time slot is not included in the survey results.

Meanwhile, du Plessis-Allan, who hosts Mornings in Wellington, Kapiti and Masterton from 8.30am to noon, has also boosted her time slot audience. 

In the 9am-12md time slot, Wellington listeners are up 3100 to 19,800. This time last year, there were 17,700 Wellington listeners tuning in during the time slot.

Currie says these results “reflect a huge six months for Newstalk ZB, with the launch of new shows and a dedicated, relentless focus on covering the big issues and setting the news agenda”.

Also on the up for the station was the 6am-9am time slot, as The Mike Hosking Breakfast (6am-8.30am) reached 359,300 listeners across New Zealand (10+) from a growth of 14,300. However, despite the growth, it did drop to second position in the time slot behind More FM.

The Mike Hosking Breakfast is number one for share, as it achieved 13.9 percent in this survey, and Currie says the dominance of the station and The Mike Hosking at Breakfast is outstanding.

“For Mike to be in his 10th year as number one, is world-class.”

Earlier this year, Hosking won Best Talk Presenter - Breakfast or Drive and shared the Outstanding Contribution to Radio Award with Jay-Jay Feeney at the New Zealand Radio Awards.

And alongside his fellow Newstalk ZB presenters, Hosking appears in the campaign currently being run for the station. Featuring a TVC, it showcases the line-up of talent and its focus on talking news, opinions and commentary with New Zealanders.

Magic

Another station seeing big growth in this survey is Magic. While it may not be the highest ranked station—number 14 for total New Zealand audience (10+)—it’s had the second greatest growth with 22,200 more listeners tuning in since the last survey to take it up to 203,200.

The same momentum was seen in the last survey when it was up 14,500 to 181,000 and as well as the second survey of 2017 when it grew 15,700 to reach 167,500.

With such momentum, Wratt gives a huge congratulations to Magic, saying hitting 200,000 listeners nationally is a fantastic result in only three years.

He adds it’s already beaten the target set for it to reach at the end of the year.

The growth is reflected in all time slots, and all demographics except for people 10-17. It saw the greatest growth in people aged 55-74, with the demographic up 6,700 to 110,400.

Losers

The Breeze

Seeing the biggest drop in this survey was The Breeze, its total New Zealand audience (10+) was down 28,600 to 552,100.

It was a blow after a great performance in the previous survey, in which it grew 52,100 to 580,700, reaching second place for its total New Zealand audience (10+) across all stations. It’s now third behind The Edge (621,500) and More FM (566,400).

The drop was seen in all demographics except for 55-74 and seen across all time slots except for 4pm-7pm where it grew by 2,000. 

The Edge was also down after big growth over the summer, dropping 18,300 listeners to 621,500 for its total New Zealand audience (10+). Like The Breeze, it also lost after big gains in the last survey when it was up 26,700 listeners.

However, it’s maintained its top spot for total New Zealand audience (10+).

Dean Buchanan, NZME group director of entertainment, points out contemporary music was down this survey with ZM gaining just 2,100 to 504,800, while urban music was on the up.

Across all New Zealanders (10+) Mai FM is up 15,800 to 454,700 and Flava is up 14,100 to 210,700.

Special standouts

While not a station at the top of the pack, Mix got gets a shoutout from the NZME team for its growing audience.

Buchanan says it continues to grow its audience and for the first time it’s share of 2.7 percent rates higher than The Rock, George FM, Magic and Radio Live in Auckland.

 “Mix also increased in its regional markets with the highlight being Whangarei, where the station is number one in the 25-54 demo, on a whopping 21.3 percent share.”

And for MediaWorks, Wratt give a shout out to Mai FM, which has followed up its Station of the Year win at this year’s New Zealand Radio Awards with further audience gains this survey.

Wratt points out its Auckland growth, with a 18,400 increase to 264,900 across all time slots keeping it securely in top spot ahead of Newstalk ZB’s 216,200—the second largest audience in the region.

“We are really proud of that station and what it continues to do,” says Wratt.

Evolving radio

Both NZME and MediaWorks’ draw attention to their performance in Auckland and when asked why it’s an important market they give traffic as the reason.

“Where there’s a traffic issue in Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton or Auckland, you can’t be playing on your smartphone,” says Buchanan.

“For those cities with big drive times at breakfast and at the end of the day, radio plays a critical part.”

He adds radio still performs really well in the regions but there is less listening while driving and more listening at home.

Helping to move radio from the car to the home are voice technologies, like Amazon Alexa. MediaWorks keeps its listeners up-to-date with the news through the Newshub Flash briefing skill while NZME has news offerings through The Herald and Newstalk ZB flash briefings and an entertainment offer with a ZM on-demand skill.

Buchanan says we will see its use of the technology to continue to evolve, and through the coming months and years, it will be conscious to get its content where people need it to be.

That is also included in NZME's evolution on its online platform iHeartRadio. It has delivered 23 percent growth year-on-year with over 776,000 registered users and an average of 2.9 million listening hours—up 28 percent year-on-year—each month.

NZME’s upward momentum continues. iHeartRadio continues its consistent growth with digital radio listening now part of our everyday life. With NZME’s strength across traditional radio and audiences listening digitally, advertisers need to put their dollars where they are most effective," says Buchanan.

But while it’s delivering for NZME, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for iHeartMedia (owner of iHeartRadio). With a debt worth $20 billion, earlier this year iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy. According to Engadget, there will be a comprehensive balance sheets restructuring but the company isn’t shutting down. Those who listen to iHeartRadio won’t be affected.

For MediaWorksRova is also growing with another 20,000 downloads since last survey period to a total of 320,000 and 17.2 million streams served to date. The app has 76,000 unique monthly users.

Wratt is proud of its reach across digital and radio and is pleased by radio’s overall strong performance.

“People would only listen if there’s something they want to hear, if it’s going well we must be doing that.”

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