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'The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market: March 2005' by Grant Goddard

An analysis of the radio broadcasting market in the Solent market of the UK for inclusion in a local commercial radio licence application to Ofcom, written by Grant Goddard in March 2005 for EMAP Radio Limited.

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'The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market: March 2005' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. THE SOLENT, UNITED KINGDOM RADIO MARKET by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk March 2005
  2. 2. The Solent area is an artificial construct for broadcasters rather than a natural geographical region. When the BBC opened a local radio station in the region, it was to be based in Southampton, which was the regional TV production centre for the South region. The BBC convention was to name each local radio station for either the city or county in which it was based. Although the new station was to be located in Southampton, it was equally to serve neighbouring Portsmouth, a city of comparable size, and its coverage area extended across Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. So, on New Year’s Eve 1971, “BBC Radio Solent” was born. The Solent area is neither contiguous nor homogenous, which makes it both difficult to describe and difficult to analyse. The greatest populations face the English Channel, behind which is a relatively rural and relatively less populated hinterland. Two large cities – Southampton (adult population 180,000) and Portsmouth (153,000) – are located 31 miles apart and are connected by a ribbon development that stretches along the M27 motorway that borders the coast. The ribbon comprises secondary towns of Eastleigh (93,000), Fareham (88,000) and Gosport (62,000) and it extends beyond Portsmouth to Havant (95,000) This contiguous series of six towns contains a total adult population of 671,000 that comprises more than half of the new radio station’s estimated TSA of 1.25m. These six towns exhibit similar characteristics and form a ribbon that is the cohesive centre of the TSA. Beyond these six towns are: the Isle of Wight (adult population 110,000) which, although separated by only a short stretch of water from Portsmouth, exhibits very different characteristics; Bournemouth (138,000) which is only 33 miles southwest of Southampton but is separated by the New Forest; and Winchester (89,000 town + district) which is a cathedral city 18 miles northeast of Southampton that is connected to the ribbon by the M3 motorway. These three outlying population centres, combined with the six towns on the Southampton/Portsmouth axis, have a total adult population of more than 1m, making up 81% of the new station’s TSA. Portsmouth and Southampton are the first and second most densely populated cities in southeast England (excluding London). Both have a very high proportion of unmarried single people (fifth and fourth respectively of the 67 local authorities in southeast England); a very high proportion of single parents with children (fourth and fifth); and a high proportion of households without a car (third and seventh). Portsmouth has the highest proportion of households in southeast England without central heating (Havant is third and Southampton is fourth) and the sixth highest proportion of households without their own bath and toilet (Southampton is eighth). Bournemouth is the most densely populated town of the 45 local authorities in southwest England, has the highest proportion of one-person households, and the highest proportion of households without their own bath and toilet. Southampton has the second highest proportion of 16+ students out of the 376 local authority areas in England & Wales (26,000 students – 12% of the total The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 2
  3. 3. population), while Portsmouth has the third highest in southeast England (15,000). Additionally, Bournemouth has the third highest proportion of 16+ students in southwest England (12,000), while Winchester has the seventh highest proportion in southeast England (7000). It would be hard to find a nonmetropolitan area with a higher proportion of 16+ students in its population than the Solent. The combined 16+ student population of the six ribbon towns and three outlying population centres is more than 80,000, which represents 7% of their population, compared to the UK average of 5%. This substantial number of students gives the Solent area a remarkably high population of young people. As a proportion of the total population, 15-24 year olds comprise 20% in Southampton and 16% in Portsmouth, considerably higher than the UK average of 12%. The data for the 20-24 year old sub-group is even more significant. As a proportion of the total population, 20-24 year olds comprise 13% in Southampton – more than twice the UK average of 6% – and 9% in Portsmouth and 8% in Bournemouth. The coverage areas of local radio stations in the Solent are not homogeneous. Wave 105 covers 1.8m adults 13; BBC Radio Solent covers 1.5m 45; Power FM and Capital Gold both cover 1.1m and exclude Bournemouth and Poole 51,63; and Ocean FM covers 1m and excludes Bournemouth, Poole and the Isle of Wight 57. There is a second tier of more local stations: The Saint covers 260,000 adults in Southampton 19; Quay 107.4 covers 280,000 in Portsmouth 24 ; Fire 107.6 covers 280,000 in Bournemouth 35; and Win 107.2 covers 68,000 in Winchester 40. None of the TSA’s of this second radio tier overlaps each other. Listeners in Southampton (total population 217,000) and Portsmouth (187,000) both benefit from a choice of five local commercial radio stations. This is higher than the average for towns of comparable size. For example, Derby (222,000) has four local commercial stations, Milton Keynes (207,000) has three, and Northampton (195,000) has two. The BBC dominates radio listening, despite the above-average number of local commercial radio stations in the Solent area. While commercial radio takes 45% of listening across the UK (in areas with local commercial stations) 7, in Southampton it takes only 38% 19, and across the whole Solent TSA only 37% 13 . While local commercial radio takes 35% of listening across the UK (in areas with local commercial stations) 7, in Southampton and Bournemouth it takes only 31% 19,35, and in Portsmouth 32% 24. Across the whole Solent TSA, local commercial radio takes a mere 28% of radio listening 13. The BBC’s dominance derives from the strength of Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio Solent and Radio 1 (in rank order) across the whole area 13. In Southampton and the Isle of Wight, the BBC has the three most listened to stations 19,29; in Portsmouth, the BBC takes four out of the top five 24; in Bournemouth, the BBC takes three out of the top four 35; while, in Winchester, the BBC has the top four stations 40. In these local markets, BBC Radio 2 is the market leader and achieves a higher share of listening than across the UK as a whole 1,19,24,29,35 (except in Winchester, where Radio 4 leads the market) 40. The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 3
  4. 4. Local radio listening in the Solent area is dominated by BBC Radio Solent 13. Local radio (BBC and commercial combined) takes a 45% share across the whole UK 1, and similarly 45% in Southampton 19, 42% in Portsmouth 24, and 46% in the Isle of Wight 29. But while BBC local radio takes a share of 11% across the UK 1, it takes 14% in Southampton 19, 13% in the Isle of Wight 29, and 12% across the whole Solent TSA 13. Local commercial radio listening in the Solent area was the province of Capital Radio’s three stations – Ocean FM, Power 103.2 and Capital Gold – until 1998/9, when five additional stations (one regional, four small local) were licensed. In 1994, Capital’s three stations had accounted for a 31% share of all radio listening within their own TSA 69, whereas now they take only 17% 70. In 1994, local commercial radio listening had a 35% share within the Power/Ocean TSA 69, and now it is 31% 70. The net effect is that the commercial stations launched in 1998/9 have only cannibalised existing commercial radio listening rather than taken listening from BBC stations. The four small local stations launched in 1998/9 under the Radio Authority’s “sally” initiative (“small-scale alternative location local licences”) have little impact across the wider Solent TSA. The Saint ranks eleventh in the Southampton market and its share of listening has fallen to almost a quarter of what it was only two years ago (from 4.6% to 1.2%) 19,21. Quay 107.4 ranks tenth in the Portsmouth market, although its share of listening has tripled in the last four years (from 1.1% to 3.2%) 24,28. Fire 107.6 ranks ninth in the Bournemouth market and its share has fallen by more than half in the last three years (from 8.2% to 3.0%) 35,38. Win 107.2 attracts a 4.8% share in its Winchester market [data unavailable for its rank position] 40. The combined hours listened to these four stations aggregate to only 1% of listening when calculated across the whole Solent TSA 13,19,24,35,40. Isle of Wight Radio, opened in 1990 as part of the IBA’s “incremental radio” experiment, has been very successful at connecting with its audience. The station is presently ranked second in its market (after BBC Radio 2) and attracts a 15% share of listening, eclipsing BBC Radio Solent which dominates local radio listening across most of the region 29. The Isle of Wight is very distinct from the Solent region, with a high proportion of its population aged over 50 (43% compared to the UK average of 33%). As a result, out of the 67 local authorities in southeast England, it ranks third for its proportion of the population who are retired, third for permanently sick or disabled people, third for long-term illness, fourth for long-term unemployed and fourth for health “not good”. Isle of Wight Radio’s licence requires it to serve “all adults” on the island, and it achieves a remarkably consistent performance across all age groups (12% share of listening in 15-24s, 19% in 25-24s, 20% in 35-44s, 16% in 45-54s and 18% in 55-64s) 29. Radio listening is declining precipitously amongst 15-24 year olds. Across the whole Solent TSA, radio now reaches 90% of 15-24 year olds 13, compared to 96% five years ago 18. This decline is twice as substantial as across the UK as a whole, which has lost 3% in the last five years 1,6. The fall in listening The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 4
  5. 5. amongst male 15-24 year olds is even more pronounced. Across the Solent TSA, radio now reaches only 87% of male 15-24 year olds 13, compared to 95% five years ago 18. Again, this is a more accelerated decline than the UK as a whole, where radio’s reach amongst 15-24 year old males has fallen by 3% to 88% in the last five years 1,6. Radio now reaches only 82% of male 15-24 year olds in Portsmouth 24, 84% in Bournemouth 40 and 77% in the Isle of Wight 29, all below the national average 1. The appeal of Power 103.2 has shifted outside its target audience. Power 103.2’s licence defines its audience as “primarily” 15-24 year olds and its music as “contemporary chart”. Power 103.2’s reach amongst all adults has fallen by one third in the last five years from 39% to 26% 51,56. The station’s weekly reach amongst male 15-24 year olds has fallen from 58% to 44% in the last five years 51,56, and amongst female 15-24 year olds from 81% to 65% 51,56 . Despite the decline in its total audience and in its primary 15-24 old target audience, Power 103.2 continues to attract half of all radio listening amongst children aged 4-14 and its reach in this age group is an impressive 70% 51. Hours listened to Power 103.2 by 4-14 year olds are now greater than hours listened by 15-24 year olds 51; and only 29% of adult hours listened to Power 103.2 now fall within its prescribed 15-24 age demographic 51. The appeal of Ocean FM is extending down to 15-24 year olds. Ocean FM’s licence defines its audience as 25-44 year olds and its music as “adult contemporary”. Its reach amongst all adults is 23% 57, the same as ten years ago 69. Over the last five years, Ocean FM has lost some of its core 25-44 year old audience, but has made significant inroads into the 15-24 year old audience who no longer listen to Power 103.2. Bizarrely, Ocean FM now reaches a higher proportion of 15-24 year olds (34%) in its TSA than 25-34 year olds (28%) 57. Ocean FM now takes a 9% share of listening amongst male 15-24 year olds 57, compared to an 8% share amongst male 25-34 year olds 57 and a 5% share amongst male 35-44 year olds 57, although only the latter two fall within the station’s primary audience. As a result, only 38% of hours listened to Ocean FM fall within its prescribed 25-44 demographic 57. The appeal of Wave 105 extends considerably below age 30. The fifth new station launched in 1998/9 is regional service Wave 105, whose licence defines its audience as “over 30s” and its music as a combination of soft rock, adult rock, adult contemporary, hits and album tracks. Its reach has grown from 12% to 19% over the last five years, and its share of listening from 5% to 8% 13,18. But more than one third of the station’s listening derives from 15-34 year olds 13, mostly outside its target audience, whose hours listened have doubled over the last five years 13,18. Wave 105 now reaches more than a quarter of 15-24 year olds and accounts for 10% of their radio listening, despite this age group falling entirely outside its remit 13. Capital Gold has almost no appeal to its target audience. Capital Gold’s licence defines its audience as 35-54 year olds and its music as “classic pop”. The station’s share of listening amongst 35-54 year olds is now only 3% 63, compared to 5% five years ago 68. Incredibly, in the latest RAJAR, Capital Gold recorded no listening whatsoever by 35-44 year old females 63. 51% of hours The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 5
  6. 6. listened to Capital Gold come from listeners outside the station’s primary 35-54 demographic 63, compared to 39% five years ago 68. Fire 107.6 has limited impact within its local Bournemouth market and almost no impact on the wider Solent TSA. Fire 107.6’s licence defines its audience as 15-34 year olds and its music as “rhythmic contemporary”. More than twothirds of hours listened to Fire 107.6 derive from its target 15-34 year old audience 35. It has the lowest share of the five local stations audible in its market and a weekly reach of only 27,000 15-34 year olds 35. The population across the whole Solent TSA contains 520,000 15-34 year olds 13. Power 103.2’s audience is significantly skewed towards females, but no other Solent-wide local commercial station shows a complementary bias towards males. 67% of listening to Power 103.2 is by females, and the station reaches 41% of housewives with under-15 children 51. Of the smaller stations in local markets, Fire 107.6 is biased towards females (67% of hours listened) in its Bournemouth TSA 35; and Win 107.2 is biased towards males (64% of hours listened) in its tiny Winchester TSA (68,000 adults) 40. Power 103.2’s declining appeal has had the greatest impact on the 15-24 year old radio audience. Over the last five years, Power 103.2’s share of listening has fallen from 16% to 8% amongst 45-54 year olds 51,56, from 34% to 12% amongst 35-44 year olds 51,56, and from 30% to 16% amongst 25-34 year olds 51,56 , all of whom are the station’s secondary target audience. In its primary audience, Power 103.2’s share of listening amongst 15-24 year olds has fallen by more than half from 41% to 20% 51,56 and its share of listening amongst 1524 year old males has fallen by nearly two thirds from 37% to 13% 51,56. This highly significant loss of audience has been exacerbated for 15-24 year olds by the lack of any alternative Solent-wide local commercial radio station aimed specifically at them. 15-24 year olds in the Solent region are emerging as a growing audience of stations for which they are not the intended target audience. Some of the listening lost from Power 103.2 has gravitated to analogue stations such as Wave 105, whose share of 15-24 year old listening has risen from 7% to 10% in five years 13,18, while some has switched to new digital services. Small local stations have also benefited – 15-24 year old males’ share of listening has risen from 0% to 5% in four years at Quay 107.4 in Portsmouth 24,28; and from 6% to 10% at Isle of Wight Radio in five years 29,34. But none of these stations are specifically targeting the 15-24 demographic. 25-34 year olds are similarly re-distributing their listening amongst several stations. In the last five years, Power 103.2’s share of listening amongst 25-34 year old males has fallen by more than half from 22% to 9% 51,56. Amongst competing stations that have benefited are: Wave 105, whose share of 25-34 year old male listening has increased from 4% to 14% in five years 13,18; Quay 107.4 in Portsmouth, whose share of listening amongst 25-34 year old males has increased from 1% to 5% in four years 24,28; Isle of Wight Radio, whose share of 25-34 year old male listening has increased from 14% to 41% in four The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 6
  7. 7. years 29,33; and BBC Radio 2, whose total share has grown from 15% to 20% in five years 13,18. The lack of wholly satisfactory listening options for the 15-24 demographic and, to a lesser extent, the 25-34 demographic has stimulated digital radio listening. The most listened to digital-only stations across the Solent TSA are: BBC World Service (178,000 hours), BBC 6 Music (132,000 hours), Kiss FM (112,000 hours) and Kerrang! (90,000 hours) 13. The substantial population of young people and students within the TSA explains the presence of three stations in this list of four that are specifically aimed at 15-34 year olds. Analysis of a random week of stations’ weekday daytime music output reveals that five out of the ten most played songs on Power 103.2 and Ocean FM are identical. This demonstrates a lack of market segmentation by the stations’ owner, Capital Radio, since the licences define their target audiences as complementary rather than overlapping. It explains partly why Ocean FM now reaches a higher proportion of 15-24 year olds (who are not its target audience) than 25-34 year olds (who are). Whilst music is never the only programming factor that determines a station’s appeal, these findings are a strong indicator of the muddled branding of Power 103.2 and Ocean FM in recent years. (Two years ago, an analysis of music output across all Capital Radio stations showed considerably less commonality between Power 103.2’s and Ocean FM’s playlists.) The same analysis of music output reveals that four of the ten most played songs on Wave 105 are amongst the ten most played songs of both Power 103.2 and Ocean FM. Wave 105’s licence defines its audience as over-30s, while Power 103.2’s audience is 15-24 year olds, making this degree of similarity between the two stations’ music output highly unusual. It also explains partly why Wave 105 manages to reach 27% of 15-24 year olds and takes 10% of their radio listening 13. The market positioning of Power 103.2 and Ocean FM and, to a much lesser extent, Wave 105, has created an environment where these stations are broadcasting partially similarly music content and reaching broadly similar audiences. This helps to explain why: 71% of hours listened to Power 103.2 derive from outside its 15-24 target demographic 51; 62% of hours listened to Ocean FM derive from outside its 25-44 target demographic 57; 51% of hours listened to Capital Gold derive from outside its 35-54 target demographic 63; and 34% of hours listened to Wave 105 derive from 15-34 year olds (its target audience is 30-plus) 13. Given the market positioning adopted by these stations, it is obvious that consumers in the Solent region would derive no marginal benefit from the addition of a further local station that either targets a broad audience of varying ages and/or provides a general hits-orientated music policy. A new player with these two characteristics will merely replicate existing local stations in the market and will not succeed in extending the listening choice available to the Solent audience. This might explain why listening to local commercial radio in the Power/Ocean TSA takes a 31% share today 70, but took 35% ten years The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 7
  8. 8. ago 69 (the UK average is now 35% in those areas with local commercial radio) 7 . Although the number of local commercial stations in the Solent TSA has doubled during the last ten years, the market has suffered from insufficient extension of genuinely differentiated product choice. Population projections show that both the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups will continue to form a significant part of the population in the future, due to the high proportion of post-16 students in the Solent region. Total population is projected to increase between 2003 and 2028 by 10% in Southampton and by 9% in Portsmouth. Although the proportion of 15-24 year olds in the population is expected to fall by 4% in Southampton and by 5% in Portsmouth, the proportion of 25-34 year olds is expected to increase by 13% in Southampton and by 10% in Portsmouth, substantially more than the 4% growth in this age group projected for southeast England as a whole. Locally originated programming is apparently not required by existing Solent stations’ licences. Only The Saint in Southampton has a requirement within its licence that “the service must be based within the licence area.” Otherwise, none of the stations are required to produce or present their programming locally. Fire 107.6’s licence requires a “full-time journalistic presence” at its Bournemouth studio during weekday daytimes, although the station’s news bulletins can be read from the studio of Wessex FM, 28 miles away. Ethnic minorities do not form a substantial part of the population across the whole Solent region. The proportion of non-white population is 8% in Southampton and 5% in Portsmouth, but only 2% in Winchester and 1% in the Isle of Wight. The largest ethnic group in Southampton is Indian (4700), and in Portsmouth is Bangladeshi (2500). There is no analogue ethnic radio station in the region. On digital platforms, Sunrise Radio (London) and BBC Asian Network each record a 1% weekly reach in Southampton (2800 and 1600 adults respectively) 19. Neither station records any listening in Portsmouth 24. The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 8
  9. 9. RAJAR - WAVE 105 TSA % share of listening 2004Q4 2003Q4 2002Q4 2001Q4 2000Q4 1999Q4 BBC RADIO 2 20% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% BBC RADIO 4 13% 13% 14% 16% 13% 12% BBC RADIO SOLENT 10% 11% 11% 11% 12% 12% BBC RADIO 1 10% 9% 10% 12% 13% 13% WAVE 105 8% 9% 6% 5% 6% 5% POWER 103.2 5% 6% 7% 6% 6% 8% CLASSIC FM 5% 6% 6% 6% 5% 6% BBC RADIO FIVE LIVE 4% 3% 4% 3% 3% 3% OCEAN FM 4% 5% 5% 4% 5% 5% 2CR FM 3% 3% 3% 4% BBC RADIO 3 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% CAPITAL GOLD 1% 2% 2% 1% 2% 2% CLASSIC GOLD 828 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% TALKSPORT 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% Isle of Wight Radio (IoW) 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% VIRGIN RADIO 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 2% Fire FM 107.6 (Bournemouth) 0% 1% 1% 1% 1% Quay 107.4 (Portsmouth) 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% Win 107.2 (Winchester) 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% The Saint 107.8 (Southampton) 0% 0% 1% 0% 0% other local commercial radio other BBC local radio other station 7% 2% 2% 5% 2% 2% 5% 2% 1% 5% 2% 2% 5% 2% 2% 10% 1% 2% RAJAR - WAVE 105 TSA % share of listening 2004Q4 2003Q4 2002Q4 2001Q4 2000Q4 1999Q4 all radio 100 100 100 100 100 100 all commercial 37 41 40 37 38 41 commercial national 9 9 8 8 8 10 commercial national analogue 7 8 8 8 8 10 commercial national digital 2 2 0 0 0 0 commercial local/regional 28 32 32 29 31 31 all BBC 61 57 59 61 60 57 BBC national 49 44 46 49 45 44 BBC local/regional 12 13 13 12 15 13 all national 58 54 54 57 53 54 all local/regional 40 44 44 41 45 44 other radio reach radio average hours 2 2 1 2 2 2 91 25.8 91 24.8 91 24.8 94 25.1 92 24.6 90 24.7 Definitions: Population data = Census 2001 Population projections = Statistics Office 2003-based sub-national populations Distances = Multimap.com (shortest route between X and Y) The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 9
  10. 10. RAJAR superscript reference numbers TSA (k) 2004Q4 2003Q4 2002Q4 2001Q4 2000Q4 1999Q4 1994Q2 all commercial radio 48862 1 2 3 4 5 6 all local commercial radio 48026 7 8 9 10 11 12 Wave 105 1794 13 14 15 16 17 18 The Saint 261 19 20 21 22 23 Quay 107.4 279 24 25 26 27 28 Isle of Wight Radio 114 29 30 31 32 33 34 Fire 107.6 283 35 36 37 38 39 Win 107.2 68 40 41 42 43 44 BBC Radio Solent 1451 45 46 47 48 49 50 Power FM 1073 51 52 53 54 55 56 Ocean FM 961 57 58 59 60 61 62 Capital Gold 1073 63 64 65 66 67 68 Power FM/Ocean FM 1108 70 71 72 73 74 75 69 Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk The Solent, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 10

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