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RNZ's impressive results: latest survey shows rising audience numbers

Radio New Zealand will be celebrating with the latest round of GfK results showing it reaches 705,800 New Zealanders (10+) each week. StopPress talked with David Allan, head of radio and music, about the reasons behind the station's growth, line-up changes and the importance of digital.

By Georgina Harris | September 27, 2018 | news

RNZ National has continued its strong performance with 633,500 New Zealanders (10+) tuning their radio dials to the channel each week, an increase of 27,200 since the last GfK survey.

RNZ Concert is also up on the previous survey with a total audience weekly reach of 182,000.

The combination means 705,800 Kiwis (10+) tune into an RNZ station every week. Looking at radio as a whole, 3.66 million New Zealanders (10+) listen to the radio each week, with NZME combo of 1,968,900 and MediaWorks’ 2,403,500.

RNZ National’s audience boost sees the station step into first place for weekly cumulative reach with its 633,500 ahead of The Edge’s 624,400 and More FM’s 586,700 listeners.

It was an impressive showing from Morning Report, hosted by Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner. In the highly competitive Breakfast period [Monday to Friday, 6am – 9am time slot] the show increased its audience numbers by 24,400 reaching 481,500 listeners, a market share of 15.4 percent.  


L-R: Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner

Looking at RNZ National's commercial competitors, it's followed by Newstalk ZB’s 310,800 listeners and 288,700 for More FM. RadioLive had 109,500 listeners. It’s worth noting that while Morning Report and RadioLive’s The AM Show run 6am-9am, Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Breakfast runs from 6am-8.30am.

RNZ National’s growth is not limited to its morning performance, with all time slots getting a boost, such as Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan [9am – 12md] up almost 9,000 listeners to 327,700. 

Head of radio and music David Allan says the result is a milestone for Radio New Zealand.

Allan credits the survey results to several things, including being driven by Morning Report’s performance.

“Every radio station is driven by breakfast because that’s where the highest number of people listen to the radio. It’s an outstanding result, and that has really driven the radio station – all the key programmes have got significant growth on the back of that and outside of that every programme has got growth.”

In the last quarter there’s been a really strong and diverse winter news cycle, says Allan.

“There’s been great variation to lead stories...generally I think RNZ key programmes have done a great job of taking advantage of the news agenda.”

He says RNZ National programmes has made a concerted effort over the last three to four years to engage more with the audience and become more audience-driven through means such as sharing content on social media.

“[We’re] always asking the hard questions, always sticking to our news principles but with a warmer conversation delivery and increasing with that the one-on-one connection with our audience.”

With John Campbell leaving Checkpoint for TVNZ, his replacement, experienced investigative journalist Lisa Owen, starts on-air in mid-October.

“Pip Keene [executive editor multimedia news programmes] is leading Checkpoint and she will be working with Lisa to ensure she brings her own identity, her own style and overall feel to the show,” says Allan.

In September, RNZ announced it would be launching a new  "hard-hitting" news programme at 5am weekday mornings, starting next year. It will be interesting to see how the programme goes as it will be on air at the same time as Early Edition with Kate Hawkesby on Newstalk ZB. 

Beyond the radio airwaves, more than 580,000 users accessed the RNZ website during the research and more than 209,000 video streams took place on RNZ platforms.

Allan says the content sharing programme with around 25 partners including Stuff, NZME, TVNZ and Bauer has had a major impact on the numbers.

“It’s feeding directly into the radio live numbers. It’s critical with the progress that digital has made, and the sharing of the content, [it] has helped them and radio to new levels.”

Allan says over the last five years RNZ National has gone through a period of refreshment.

“We’ve now got a strong, stable host line-up in place, and there’s a lot more new and younger voices coming through on air on all the teams.”

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