When last week’s commercial radio results were released, it was looking like the final survey of the year would see Radio New Zealand National overtake The Edge to become the top station in the country.
However, rather than continuing on the growth it demonstrated all year, the station has faced a drop of 38,800 in the last non-commercial survey of the year to achieve 586,700 listeners each week.
When positioning the station alongside the commercial stations, the result keeps RNZ National in second place, behind The Edge’s 613,100 and ahead of the Breeze’s 528,600.
Meanwhile, RNZ Concert has also experienced a loss, with a weekly audience of 145,800 achieved in this survey compared to last survey's 172,400.
The losses follow a series of strong surveys for RNZ, with growth in all three of this year’s previous surveys, and while programme manager David Allan says it’s disappointing to lose the cumulative audience that it did, it was expected.
With this survey including the election, he casts his mind back to the post-election survey three years ago and says a loss was also felt then. Although the numbers can’t be compared due to changes in methodology—the former survey being by Nielsen and this latest by GfK—each reflects the audience’s decision to get their coverage from other stations.
When asked why it expects that drop, Allan says the range of stories isn’t as wide as it usually is.
He believes RNZ’s team had a strong strategy in place for its election coverage but the audience went elsewhere.
“We do it in depth, we do our job and the audience ultimately decides.”
When choosing between just news stations alone, it appears RNZ National is the favourite as its weekly audience is still significantly higher than Newstalk ZB and RadioLive. They too saw a drop in weekly audience, with Newstalk ZB losing 3,600 to achieve a weekly audience of 506,800 and RadioLive falling by 27,900 to achieve 212,500.
Within the stations, RNZ’s breakfast performance (6am-9am time slot) also came out on top, with 445,700 tuning in (after a 28,900 drop from the previous survey), compared to Newstalk ZB’s 362,900 and RadioLive’s 135,600.
Not only does this latest survey result follow strong first three surveys for RNZ National this year, it also follows a year of digital expansion for RNZ.
This includes the release of the 9th Floor podcast series as well as Stories of Ruapekapeka, an online project by Great Southern TV and New Zealand On Air.
Speaking about its online performance, Allan says its stats are “fantastic” — both in terms of growth year-on-year and its coverage of the election.
That performance online alongside its stable line up of personalities across its platforms has made for a great year Allan says, adding that he is happy with RNZ’s performance overall.
And looking to the future, he adds RNZ has some exciting plans for its radio product.
“Ratings and growth is important but it’s also important that we do our job so there are no apologies for that.”