A view of listener movements from another perspective by BPR’s Wayne Clouten



In an article: The to and fro of those who listen to radio posted last week on radioinfo in the aftermath of the Survey 5 results, we broached the question of where the unprecedented audience shifts between stations over recent surveys , were coming from and going to.

Wayne Clouten is a principal of international broadcast content consultancy, BPR. He contends that too often we think purely about competition between radio stations when we are, in fact, competing for people’s attention with all kinds of media.

Mr Clouten has  kindly contributed the following article.

Much of the statistical movement we see in radio surveys, particularly TSL movement has likely nothing to do with an exchange of TSL between radio stations, it is more to do with an exchange of TSL between a radio station and other forms of audio”

The problem is that with radio survey data the tendency we are drawn to is trying to draw lines between this radio station and that radio station, but the reality is that listening overall is much more fluid and radio only forms part of the bigger listening ecosystem.

I believe a lot of “movement” we see in radio surveys is the result of what I call “proportional dilution”.

It works like this: Imagine my station has 50 listeners listening for one hour each, and your station also has 50 listeners listening for one hour each.  So, in our little market there is 100 hours of total radio listening of which we both have a 50% listening share.  The next survey comes along and I gain 10 more listeners but my listeners are spending more time listening to something else other than radio so my radio TSL drops to 30 minutes per listener while yours remains the same as before.

There are now 80 hours of total radio listening in the market of which your station now has a 63% share while my station drops to a 37% share.  None of my listeners actually went to your station, in fact they hate your station but it looks like your station gained from my station in the survey when that was not actually the case.

All this doesn’t change the fact that my stations share of radio listening in the official survey went down relative to your station, what changes is how you interpret these share movements from a strategic and tactical perspective.

I have been observing an exponential development of this issue in recent times.  COVID has likely accelerated this development in listening behaviour, but the trend was already there well prior to COVID.

The degree to which radio listeners use other forms of audio varies quite a lot depending on demographic and station format.

This is often particularly manifest in P1 listeners of a radio station.  They may love you and have absolutely no interest in any other radio station….when they are listening to radio…but that is not to say they don’t have a great interest in another form of audio and will spend more time with it in the future.

The key issue is to appreciate that listeners are more than just radio listeners and for the average listener, radio is just part of a much broader listening ecosystem they have access to and can move within seamlessly to create the listening experience they want.

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