Latest radio ratings show slight easing back to traditional listening habits

Following a strong year for news and talk radio, listeners are slowly easing back into music channels according to The New Zealand Commercial Radio Industry S1 2022 GfK Radio Audience Data released today.

The survey found 3.72 million Kiwis aged 10+ listen to the radio each week, compared to 3.39 million in the last survey for 2021.

Jana Rangooni Radio Broadcasters CEO says radio saw some “pretty big” spikes in news and talk radio listening last year as the country tuned in for Covid-19 updates and Civil Defence emergencies such as the Tairāwhiti flooding.

While there is certainly an easing of these spikes there isn’t any major correction this year Rangooni says.

“Clearly there is still a huge interest in not only Covid, but the economy and potentially the [local body]elections as well coming up later in the year.”

Similar surveys of major Australian radio markets have found that listeners are returning to their more traditional listening habits.

“We have seen some of the major Australian markets recent surveys that the music radio stations have started to see more growth,” she says.

Peter Richardson, The Radio Bureau General Manager, notes that listeners have increased the time they spend listening to the radio by over half an hour each week.

“Time spent listening is up across all major dayparts and demographics. Kiwis are spending over half an hour longer with radio each week.

“With the increase in the total number of listeners, this survey demonstrates the enduring place of radio in New Zealanders’ daily lives.

“These factors, combined with radio’s role as a trusted news source and companion, offer compelling reasons why radio should be a strong part of every advertiser’s media mix.”

MediaWorks remains the most popular commercial radio network with an increase in  audience share the number of weekly listeners.

Leon Wratt, MediaWorks Director of Content also points to the increase in demand for music channels saying this “reflects the return to normal radio listening patterns following last year’s lockdown”. 

“It’s also clear that radio – whether for information or entertainment – remains a constant in people’s lives with 3.4 million people listening to commercial radio every week, an increase of almost 50,000.”

RNZ, recently named the most trusted media organisation in New Zealand in the annual report Trust in news in Aotearoa New Zealand 2022 by the AUT research centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD), has seen an increase in its radio audience by 745,600 in the latest survey.

Paul Thompson, Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief says he is proud of the work the RNZ team produced despite the pandemic disruptions.

“The majority of our staff continue to work from home most days, and there was a time where most of our shows were broadcast from at-home set ups,” he says.

Despite again a slight increase in interest for its music channels, NZME’s Newstalk ZB station dominates the ratings chart for Total Weekly Cumulative Audience with The Mike Hosking Breakfast continuing to rate number one, with a record 511,700 listeners.

NZME’s music radio station ZM’s breakfast show – Fletch, Vaughan and Hayley – has the most listeners across key demographics 18-39 and 25-44.

Jason Winstanley, NZME Chief Radio Officer, says the results reflect NZME’s focus on delivering world class, engaging, informative, high-performing news and entertainment.

“NZME now reaches more than two million people across our radio stations. The success we’re seeing in radio continues across our digital audio platforms, with iHeartRadio now reaching more than 1.3 million Kiwis and boasting 6.8 million listening hours, and 2.7 million podcast downloads,” he says.

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Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.