Commercial radio survey: Second 2019 results show growth not slowing down

The results of the second GfK Radio Survey for 2019 are out and MediaWorks and NZME both have plenty to shout about, as commercial radio continues to assert itself as a dominant media with New Zealand audiences.

Combined listening numbers of commercial and non-commercial radio have risen again – slightly up from the first survey of the year to 3.63 million New Zealanders (10+) listening to the radio each week, totalling 84 percent of the population. Total audience numbers for commercial radio has also risen slightly to 3.38 million or 78 percent, compared to 3.34 million in the previous survey – an increase in 35,300 people. 

While the second half of 2018 saw a dip in commercial audience numbers, this survey’s total is hot on the heels of 2018’s peak result, where numbers hit 3.39 million or 80 percent in the first survey of 2018.

MediaWorks’s commercial music offering continues to reign supreme, with The Edge, The Breeze and More FM filling the top three spots for overall cumulative reach. This is a change in the line-up from the first survey of the year, where NZME’s Newstalk ZB jumped up to the second spot in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks in March. 

MediaWorks radio group content director Leon Wratt says they couldn’t be happier with the results. 

“Overall, it was a really good result for us again, and it was great to see listenership increase for radio overall. We had the three most listened-to music stations in the country and More FM regained some of the ground it lost in the previous survey, which was great.”

Top placed The Edge’s audience grew 21,900 from the previous survey, The Breeze was up 28,800 and More FM’s audience rose 27,700.

Despite now sitting in the fourth spot, Newstalk ZB cumulative reach has continued to grow, up 4,200 to 559,800. For the second survey in a row, Newstalk ZB has come in top of nationwide station share, this time at 12.4 percent – a country mile ahead of The Breeze’s second place share of 8.6 percent.

NZME managing editor Shayne Currie says this is a record level of station share and reach for Newstalk ZB. 

“Newstalk ZB is on a superb roll and it has extended its lead which is phenomenal. It’s been a huge news year and it’s pleasing to see that despite changing big names who have been with the brand for more than two decades, ZB is in the strongest position it’s ever been in.”

Currie says the station is positioned to both maintain its audience and continue to grow it in the future, citing Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford’s long-awaited Newstalk ZB show launching on July 1 as the next big shake-up. 

As well as seeing the biggest increases in cumulative audiences, MediaWorks also had the biggest losses. Urban station Mai Fm dropped 23,200 to 388,500 and the combined Magic Music & Talk dropped 18,200 to 398,500.

Despite the drop in cumulative numbers, Magic is continuing to grow in nationwide station share – placing in the third spot with a 7.7 percent share, as well as increasing its share in the Auckland market. 

“It’s fantastic to see Magic go up in Auckland,” Wratt says. “Auckland was where we made the biggest change, and in the last survey I was really nervous about it so I’m happy to see that consolidate now. It gives us something to build on.”

With the contemporary music stations taking a hit in the first survey of 2019, most have seen growth in the latest results. At NZME, The Hits and ZM both had significant growth in cumulative audiences with 17,500 and 11,400 respectively. 

NZME group director of entertainment Dean Buchanan says ZM is continuing to rise through the ranks.

“ZM has had overnight success five years in the making. We started regenerating ZM about five years ago and to be number one in the crucial 18-34 share is just incredible. It hasn’t been there for years.”

ZM just surpassed rival station The Edge for station share in the 18-34 demographic, with a 12.9 percent share compared to The Edge’s 12.8 percent. ZM was up from 11 percent in the last survey. 

ZM’s breakfast show with Fletch, Vaughan and Megan also beat rival The Edge breakfast show with Dom, Meg and Randall in station share during the time slot. The NZME station came in ahead at 6.8 percent share compared to The Edge’s 6.2 percent. 

With Fletch, Vaughan and Megan also winning best breakfast show at the NZ Radio Awards earlier this month, Buchanan says it was nice to see the quality of the show also reflected in the numbers. 

“We were thrilled to have the quality recognised at the Radio Awards, so to get a double fist pump with the numbers is great.”

In terms of digital offering, MediaWorks has recently relaunched its all-new Rova streaming service. Wratt says the new app is a new experience for users. 

“It has a lot of functionality that we haven’t had before, and a lot of new features will come on in the next month or two. A device report by GfK last week showed about 7 percent of radio listening is being done on a computer or phone now. That’s quite a high percentage and it’s ticking up every year so it’s really important that we make sure we’re doing a good job there.”

Rova has had a further 28,000 downloads since April 2019, recording 470,000 total app downloads to date.

Over at NZME, its streaming service iHeartRadio now has slightly more than 878,000 registered users. In May it clocked up 3.4 million listening hours according to NZME chief executive Michael Boggs.

Currie says the service is continuing to prove beneficial as a way to integrate different NZME brands – particularly at the moment during the 2019 Cricket World Cup, where the service allows match commentary to be accessed on NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB articles.

Radio Broadcasters Association chief executive Jana Rangooni says she is pleased to see radio is appealing to such a large audience across New Zealand.

“GfK sample over 15,000 people every year and invest heavily to ensure the sample replicates the population in every way. This is without doubt one of the most extensive pieces of consumer research done in New Zealand.”

About Author

Caitlin Salter is a freelance writer who contributes to various publications at ICG Media.

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