Return of radio results season: The Rock rises, Newstalk ZB remains solid and Paul Henry faces the numbers

The radio survey results period has over the year come to be typified by a markedly partisan response from NZME and MediaWorks, heavy drinking by the ratings winners and, quite often, even heavier drinking by those who weren’t as lucky in the results. And given that the NZME-funded T1 survey didn’t have the backing of MediaWorks, tonight’s results party is poised to be a big one. But this tradition of two massive annual blowouts (only one this year) is set to change, as results reports will be released more regularly from next year.

Following the appointment of research agency GFK earlier this year, the latest set of results, released earlier today, are the first to be based on new research methodologies, which were adopted in accordance on the recommendations of research consultants Peter Don and Eriks Celmins. It is also the first survey with the full backing of all industry players to have been released this year that has included the use of e-diaries in the process.

The release of the new data is important not only for the radio brands, but also for the advertisers who rely on the information to make their decisions—and, for this reason, The Radio Bureau (TRB), which still manages some of the ad selling in the industry, welcomed the latest figures. 

“We know agencies have been eager to see more up to date information,” says TRB managing director Peter Richardson. “The results are live on our website and TRB’s planning team is crunching the numbers so that we can present TRB’s impartial analysis of the survey. This will be tailored for agencies and analysed against their key planning demographics.”

In terms of overall listeners aged ten and over, More Fm and The Rock were the only two brands to lift their listener numbers from the figures posted a year earlier. The Rock went from 285,600 listeners to 297,400 while More FM lifted from 292,100 to 328,300.

Newstalk ZB again held onto its position as the station with the biggest share of overall time spent listening (11.4 percent), followed by The Rock (9.1 percent) and Coast (9 percent). And the Edge once again had the highest total number of listeners with 436,000, follwed by Newstalk ZB on 364,500 and More FM on 328,300.  

The biggest drops in this category were suffered by The Sound (down 30,700), Radio Hauraki (down 28,900), The Edge (down 26,700) and Radio Live (down 21,300).

In terms of accumulated listenership across all categories in the 10+ category, MediaWorks increased its lead over its competitor and shared a graph to show its upward trajectory.

“We had a really good result,” says MediaWorks group content director Leon Wratt. “The overall trend continues.”

Asked to comment on this graph, NZME Radio managing director Dean Buchanan makes the point that advertisers don’t buy their ads against the 10+ figures and that this information isn’t reflective of the commercial viability of any of the brands.

“Mediaworks has decreased their 18-54 audience by 46,600 listeners, and NZME has gained 6,300,” says Buchanan.” [And] we have more registered users on iHeartRadio now (395,000) than there are listeners in the 10-17 year old age group for all of radio nationwide. The need for advertisers to engage digitally with radio is becoming more significant, which NZME is focused on.”   

It’s also worth noting that when MediaWorks previously distributed a similar graph, it was limited to the 18 to 54 category, which advertisers are more likely to find relevant and commercially interesting.  

Update: MediaWorks has now also sent through the graph for the 25-54 age group.

Moving on to the highly competitive 18 to 34 category, ZM, The Rock, More FM and George FM each grew their overall audiences, with ZM coming out as the biggest winner as it grew its audience by 10,800 listeners. This was followed by More Fm, which increased by 6,500 listeners and The Rock, which was up by 3,000.

“To have an increased share and number of listeners now tuning into ZM reflects on the terrific team ZM are becoming,” says Buchanan. “We also beat The Edge digitally in August so ZM is on fire and is exactly tracking to where we want it to be. The great thing is there’s a lot more opportunity in there.” 

Breeze (down 26,700), Mai FM (down 19,900), Radio Hauraki (down 19,000) and The Edge (down 13,100) underwent the biggest slides in terms of listenership in this category.

Asked whether he thought the losses in suffered by the Edge were attributable to Dom Harvey’s controversial moments over the course of the last year led to a loss of listeners for the brand, Wratt said that he didn’t think this was the case. 

“What’s controversial to one person might not be controversial to another,” he says. “Much of the outrage came from outside our audience, so I don’t really think this affected the numbers.”

In addition, Wratt also pointed out that The Edge continues to have the highest listenership across every category.             

In the 25-54 category, arguably the most important to advertisers, The Edge (down 34,200), The Sound (down 32,000), Breeze (27,100) and Radio Hauraki (down 16,800) all suffered marked drops, while More FM (up 12,500) and Newstalk ZB (1,400) were the only two stations to enjoy a lift in this category.

In terms of station share, The Rock had the biggest share of total time spent listening at 13.5 percent, followed by The Sound at 9.4 percent and More FM at 8.9 percent.  

In the household listeners with kids category, The Rock again had the highest levels of engagement enjoying 11.7 share of total time spent listening while The Edge had the highest number of listeners at 73,400.

However, once again the Edge found itself in the list of stations that shed the most listeners as it dropped 6,600 listeners year on year. This was followed by The Sound, which lost 6,200 listeners and the Breeze, which dropped 6,100.

On the other side of the spectrum, The Rock was again a standout performer, pulling in 7,100 more listeners when compared to last year’s figures.

There was also added intrigue in this survey, because it was the first time that the performance of Paul Henry’s show was to be measured. And given that Henry was to be pitted against Newstalk ZB’s star performer from last year, Mike Hosking, this was a battle both NZME and MediaWorks were hoping to win.

The release from MediaWorks pointed out that the The Paul Henry Show has given Radio Live a huge growth of 17 percent at breakfast, and this clearly played a part in Radio Live enjoying a lift in ratings (up 2,600 listeners) in the Household listeners with kids category. However, Newstalk ZB’s performance in this category was even better, with the station increasing its listenership year on year by 2,700.

“Newstalk ZB will just continue to strengthen further with Marcus Lush joining the Newstalk ZB team, hosting the Night Show from January,” says Buchanan.

Wratt says he is very happy with the start to Henry’s tenure across all channels, and says he expects the show’s numbers to improve across all channels as it matures over the next year.

If anything, the Paul Henry Show reiterates that the radio only forms part of the industry makeup these days. Each of commercial radio broadcasters have sophisticated online strategies that are pulling millions of viewers and listeners every month. For instance, iHeart Radio has since its inception delivered 13,691,000 listening hours this year, and the numbers keep growing every day.     

These digital channels have also created new commercial opportunities as radio personalities are given the space to produce visually led campaigns for advertisers. Whether it’s ASB sponsoring a Mike Hosking segment, Jono and Ben working with V Energy or PJ and Jase developing Sushiwi, personalities are increasingly looking for ways to extend their activities beyond radio. And as the industry continues to evolve, this will only become more prominent. 

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