Radio ratings: The Beat back above Virgin (but…)

Radio ratings March 2014

Total audience share for major ownership groups, winter 2013-14 (ages 2+). Cogeco Diffusion: 98.5 + Rythme FM + CKOI + The Beat + Radio Circulation; Bell Media: NRJ + Rouge FM + CJAD + CHOM + Virgin + TSN 690; CBC/Radio-Canada: CBC Radio One + CBC Radio Two + ICI Première + Espace musique; Other: CJPX Radio Classique + Radio X + non-reporting stations

One year after The Beat took a surprising lead over Virgin among all anglophone listeners, it has done so again. The latest BBM quarterly ratings report, released last week, shows The Beat with an 18.4% share among anglophones, slightly less than its record 18.6% in March 2013. That’s ahead of Virgin Radio at 15.1%.

When you factor in the francophone audience, where Virgin has a slight lead (4.1% vs. 3.9%), The Beat is still ahead overall, though just by a bit. This differs from last year, where Virgin had the lead among all listeners because it was stronger among francophones. The Beat last year had a 2.1% share among francophones, so there’s some significant improvement there.

What’s interesting about this jump back to number one (well, actually number two, behind CJAD) for The Beat is that it happened during the same time of the year last year, suggesting that there may be some seasonal aspect to it. Maybe The Beat has better Christmas music?

“Could be a new seasonal thing, but we keep gaining in all demos through the various seasons,” The Beat’s program director Leo Da Estrela tells me. He pointed out that The Beat held its lead through the spring and summer (though just barely) and described The Beat’s fall 2013 as “weak”, suggesting that the report that came out in December was the exception rather than the rule.

We’ll see in three months whether he was right. (Oh who am I kidding, we’ll be arguing over this for years.)

Da Estrela also points out that The Beat is ahead during the 9-5 work day “which is our bread and butter.”

Everyone's #1!

Everyone’s #1!

Like last time, Virgin is still ahead where it matters for advertisers: adults 25-54. But not by much. In that demo, Virgin’s lead has dropped from nine points to only three, according to this analysis by its owner Bell Media. Among women in that age group, its lead has gone from 11 points to five.

Breaking down by time period, Virgin has significant drops across the board. It has dropped to third, behind The Beat and CHOM, among adults 25-54 in the mid-mornings. That’s not good news for Andrea Collins, who’s in the Virgin studio for that timeslot. But she’s clearly not the problem because The Beat is also ahead during the noon hour, when it airs its 12 Hits @ 12, and in early afternoons, when Virgin has Ryan Seacrest and The Beat has CJ.

Virgin still leads in the mornings among 25-54, and The Beat is still fourth, though the race between the two is much tighter. It also leads in the afternoon drive time and on weekends, but not by as much as it used to.

Bell Media tried to put on a happy face about the ratings. Their highlights include:

  • Virgin is still the #1 station among adults 25-54, and CHOM is second
  • CHOM is the #1 station among men 25-54
  • CJAD had a 16% increase in the 25-54 demo since last fall, and is up among all listeners. It’s also up a bit among the slightly older 35-54 demo. “We are only a few points behind the FM stations here,” says program director Chris Bury. He adds: “We also saw nice increases for the Tommy Schnurmacher, Barry Morgan and Aaron Rand shows.”
  • TSN Radio 690 had a 13% increase in the 25-54 demo since last fall, it has a higher reach among anglo and franco listeners together, and “nice gains for The Montreal Forum with Tony Marinaro, Habs Lunch with Marinaro and Nilan and Off the Cuff with Chris Nilan,” Bury says.

The gains of CJAD and TSN are what I would qualify as insignificant considering the margin of error. Besides, if you want to play that game, Virgin lost 13% of its A25-54 audience and almost 30% of its A25-54 audience in mid-mornings.

The bottom line is the race between Virgin and The Beat is tight, but otherwise there hasn’t been much to report in this ratings period. Bell Media has more than half the market among anglophones (about 75% if you exclude non-commercial stations), and Cogeco has about half the market among francophones.

Andrew Carter still the highest-rated show

 

It had a slight loss among total listeners, but Andrew Carter still reigns supreme among anglophones with 32,000 listeners on average, and 10,900 in the 25-54 demographic. The next four shows on the list of top 40 are also CJAD shows, including Tommy Schnurmacher, who gained 11% and has 20,250 listeners on average.

In the 25-54 demo, Carter is followed by Mark Bergman on Virgin, The Beat’s 12 Hits @ 12, The Beat’s Middays with CJ, The Beat of your Workday with Donna Saker, Tootall on CHOM, and Ryan Seacrest on Virgin.

Among morning shows, which are no longer the top-rated shows at the music stations among either all listeners of the 25-54 demographic, The Beat is second behind CJAD in overall listeners, with 16,100, followed by Freeway and Natasha on Virgin with 12,870 and Terry DiMonte and Heather Backman on CHOM with 12,290. Among adults 25-54, it’s Virgin first, followed by CHOM and then The Beat.

Big gains (average listeners):

  • Dinner Rush on CJAD: 12,830 (+41%)
  • The Real Estate Show on CJAD: 12,040 (+30%)
  • Andrew Carter Sunday show on CJAD: 14,990 (+28%)
  • Entertainment Extra on CJAD: 12,280 (+25%)
  • Barry Morgan on CJAD: 15,560 (+22%)
  • Tech Talk on CJAD: 11,790 (+22%)
  • Rob Kemp on CHOM: 11,200 (-21%)
  • The Beat’s Top 20 (Sundays): 10,890 (-20%)
  • Afternoon Rock Ride with Bilal on CHOM: 10,450 (-20%)

Big losses:

  • Andrea Collins on Virgin: 13,550 (-28%)
  • Virgin Weekends with Nikki: 11,350 (-28%)
  • Mark Bergman on Virgin: 15,210 (-24%)
  • American Top 40 on Virgin: 14,140 (-24%)
  • Ryan Seacrest on Virgin: 13,860 (-24%)

Since the biggest gains are all on CJAD and biggest losses on Virgin, it seems obvious that it’s something about the station, not the personalities, that are at play here. It’ll take a few ratings periods to see if this is a momentary blip or a long-term problem.

Mark Bergman’s afternoon drive show on Virgin is down 26% among adults 25-54, but it’s still among the top 30 shows in either language. It does so well among adults 18-34 that it’s the third-most-popular program in either language, beating out all but one of the French stations (NRJ) in that time period.

Rythme FM beats 98.5 in key demo

Among the French stations, there’s been a bit more movement. Overall, CHMP 98.5 FM still leads, with 20.5% of the 2+ francophone audience (though it now claims to be only the most listened to radio station in Quebec, not all of Canada). But among adults 25-54, it has lost a five-point lead over Rythme FM and now trails in that demographic by a single point (which we’ll call a tie). The rest of the field is flat.

Among adults 18-34, Rythme FM has jumped from fourth to first with a 25% share, and 98.5 FM has dropped from third to fifth among young adults. The talk powerhouse is stable among women but has lost seven points in its key men 25-54 demo.

Like with Virgin, 98.5’s drops are in all the big time periods (except weekends) among adults 25-54. The biggest drop is at noon hour, the first hour of Benoit Dutrizac, where it’s down 37%. (The entire show is down 28% among adults 25-54 and 21% among all listeners.) Paul Arcand’s morning show is down 18% among all listeners and 22% among adults 25-54.

Rouge FM also loses a selling point in its war with Cogeco’s Rythme FM. Rouge has dropped behind it at noon, when it has Joël Legendre and Rythme has Sébastien Benoit and Mitsou Gélinas. This is due more to Rouge’s drop than Rythme’s gain. Legendre’s noon-hour show is stable among men but has lost 28% of its audience among women 25-54.

NRJ saw its morning show C’t’encore drôle plummet 36% among adults 25-54, though it’s still the highest rated of the morning shows on the music stations.

Among the rest, Radio X and Espace Musique are pretty flat everywhere. Radio Classique is flat overall but has lost more than half its audience in late mornings and at noon.

Radio Circulation 730 is at the end of the pack. It has 680 listeners on average during the morning rush hour, and 1,120 on average during the afternoon rush.

Radio-Canada Première had some significant losses across the schedule. C’est pas trop tôt with Marie-France Bazzo had a 20% drop from 55,500 to 44,500 listeners total (that’s less than half of Paul Arcand’s show on 98.5), though it’s actually up 3% in the adults 25-54 demographic.

31 thoughts on “Radio ratings: The Beat back above Virgin (but…)

  1. Media Man

    Well it would seem Virgin, I was ready to write off The Beat in last ratings.. but this still indicates to an extent that you can’t have two stations playing the identical stuff..

    as for personnel, no surprise on weekends Nat Lauzon is the more seasoned over Nikki B Cat has been around longer than Freeway..Mark Bergman we’ll see if that’s a temporary blimp…
    Ryan Seacrest maybe’s losing his lustre…

    CJAD, well they don’t have competition, and you can’t compare to music stations….I notice you don’t mention anything about AD’s nighttime programming, with those rookies. Is it that bad..? I still think their numbers will go down with AM600..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Well it would seem Virgin, I was ready to write off The Beat in last ratings.. but this still indicates to an extent that you can’t have two stations playing the identical stuff..

      How, exactly, does it do that?

      as for personnel

      As I tried to make clear, it’s pretty silly to make conclusions about announcers’ performance based on these numbers, unless we believe that all Virgin announcers suddenly got a lot worse and most CJAD announcers suddenly got a lot better. Music might be the issue, if Virgin has made changes, or it could be something else entirely.

      I notice you don’t mention anything about AD’s nighttime programming, with those rookies. Is it that bad..?

      The overnight shows don’t register on the numbers that I have. Nor do individual shows on TSN 690. I’m looking at stuff that has at least 10,000 listeners on average.

      Reply
      1. Brett Morris

        If Virgin added some hip hop into their playlist they could take the listeners of American station 94.7 hits FM who can’t always get a good signal in parts of the city.

        I would listen to Virgin radio as I love all hit music but I chose Hits FM because they mix in hip hop. Virgin definitely has the better signal but also tends to over play done of their music. There are I always people looking for radio stations that have hip hop in their playlist.

        Reply
        1. Charlie Morrison

          Completely agree. Despite their awful signal, Hits has built a nice little niche for themselves.. especially out here in the west. I’m sure their ratings wouldn’t even be remotely close to Virgin or the Beat, but I’d be curious to see what they get

          Reply
    2. adma

      Not sure what you’re talking about. The Virgin Morning Show was still on top in every demo.

      You ask any Sales Dept if you can sell 2+. See what they tell you.

      Remember PPM ratings are published based on 3 months. Dec is a write off because of Christimas music. The only ratings periods that count is Fall and Spring. Everyone knows this.

      But I guess, like Fagstein says, every station on the planet looks to celebrate something.

      Reply
  2. Media Man

    to clarify, by nighttime I meant, after 6-7 pm to 11 pm…

    As for the Beat and Virgin..maybe one promotion was better than another station’s promotion….They haven’y really changed musically..and getting rid of a syndicated show like Seacrest and going with someone in-studio won’t change a difference..but the up and down between the two stations definitely indicates you two stations playing virtually playing the same American fluff..one will be down and one up……Next book should tell you the same thing…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      but the up and down between the two stations definitely indicates you two stations playing virtually playing the same American fluff..one will be down and one up

      Actually, though Virgin is down, The Beat’s numbers are not up by nearly as much. Those listeners seem to be going elsewhere.

      Reply
      1. Media Man

        I really would like to see 947 Hits FM’s numbers but they’re not in Canada…but I guarantee they’re taking a big chunk especially in the lower end of the age spectrum..

        they’re really aggressive, they do those movie premieres downtown like other stations. In fat, the Beat doesn’t do that many..They were present in the St. Pat’s parade yesterday…They have a future hits category for Montreal’s top indie artists like Brittany Kwasnik, Stefanie Parnell, December Rose or Rose-Marie and don’t need to as don’t have Cancon minimums…

        Some of their material should be on either or both stations ( The Beat and Virgin ) … So the fans of those artists will listen to and before that particular segment, etc..

        Why don’t our Montreal stations play more local artists and doesn’t the Bell Media stations have at least a commitment to play indie or emerging artists.. CHOM does a good job of local stuff with their Montreal Rocks Sunday show, just listen to what’s happening with Half Moon Run.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          doesn’t the Bell Media stations have at least a commitment to play indie or emerging artists

          It does, though it applies only to its stations that play popular music. Virgin Radio and NRJ stations are included, but stations like CHOM and Rouge FM are not. The requirement is that 25% of Canadian music played on the station is emerging artists, as defined by CRTC policy.

          Reply
        2. Brett Morris

          Virgin does play breakthrough artist but it seems that’s it’s always non local artist. Wish they would play more local music that has the potential of becoming we’ll know.

          I feel the only hit music station that serves the Montreal market that really plays local music is Hits FM as they play future hits every Monday at 11pm. Although they don’t need to I feel they support the local music scene more then any top 40 pop station.

          I feel that the big companies want all their hit music stations to sound “cookie cutter” The smaller owners such as Martz Communications who own Hits FM tend to be more local.

          Reply
          1. Media Man

            Future Hits is on Brett as you say at that time..they play three songs with one of them being an actual feature artist.

            You will also be happy to know that weeknights at 9:30 where there’s also one future hit song at that time as well.. The Beat and Virgin, nothing, shame on them.

            Reply
  3. Dilbert

    Summary, Beat got a bit better, and the bell properties are about net zero which is sort of the goal of having so many hooks in the water.

    The funny part is that when you look at it, the top rate montreal morning show on radio only has 5 times more people listening to it than the worst rated morning TV show. With all those people in cars and such, it seems pretty much a sad and paltry number.

    Reply
  4. David Pinto

    The Fagstein item says:
    The latest BBM quarterly ratings report, released last week, shows The Beat with an 18.4% share among anglophones, slightly less than its record 18.6% in March 2013.
    From the BBM site:
    A panel is a group of households that have been randomly selected to represent an entire community.
    In other words, a more accurate way of presenting that first paragraph, excluding specifics, would be to say:
    The latest BBM quarterly ratings report … shows The Beat with an 18.4% share among [those] Anglophones [who take part in the BBM surveys].
    [Those Anglophones who do not take part are simply assumed by BBM to have the same viewing or listening habits as everyone else; in other words, BBM has not got the slightest information on their listening habits; in fact, if you listen to, say, CJAD, only on Wednesday mornings at 7:00 A.M. because, every Wednesday, you drive to your company’s office in Trois-Rivieres for a weekly sales meeting, and you never listen to CJAD at any other time during the week, BBM has no knowledge of this. No wonder the radio market is in a mess, when BBM has not got the slightest idea of the listening habits of listeners who do not take part in BBM surveys and simply assumes, based on some statistical mumbo-jumbo and hocus pocus that has never been revealed to us Dull Normals, that their listening habits are identical to everyone else’s .]

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The latest BBM quarterly ratings report … shows The Beat with an 18.4% share among [those] Anglophones [who take part in the BBM surveys].

      That’s assuming the survey results are not weighted. But yes, this is a survey based on a sample. BBM Canada did not ask millions of people individually what they listen to on the radio.

      Reply
    2. Neil K.

      PPMs have replaced written surveys. The station tuned is detected automatically by a small iPod-style receiver that is worn or carried. Each night the receiver is placed in a dock that uploads the user’s listening patterns from that day.

      I still don’t know how the PPM system knows if someone is actually in a room where a radio is playing. If the receiver is left near a radio but nobody is listening, the station being tuned and detected still gets the credit.

      And how does PPM deal with people listening on headphones or earbuds? There’s no way the receiver can “hear” the signal.

      Reply
    3. Dilbert

      The size of the sample group is what ends up causes there to be a margin of error on all of these things, and most people don’t get excited when the numbers move within that margin. If you read the story, The Beat is suggesting that the previous ratings might have been a “bad book”, which is to say the numbers didn’t accurately reflect what people were listening to.

      So if the survey has an error rate that is plus or minus .5% of share, then you could move up and down 1 full point in the range,as could the competition. So you could see movement of up to 2 points from book to book without the audience actually changing.

      Reply
  5. Neil K.

    I should have added to my comment that PPM is much more accurate than the old written diaries, to address David Pinto’s comment. Yes, the data is still extrapolated to represent the entire population but at least the raw data being used is much more accurate (and immediate). In the days of the old written-recall survey, people had to remember what they listened to and write down those stations on an hour-by-hour basis for a few weeks. Many people simply left it to the end and wrote in the same station for the entire survey period out of laziness or forgetfulness. And many surveys were no even returned.

    There was also research that showed some formats suffered by the recall survey. For example, stations that skewed male tended to fare worse because males are less likely to fill in surveys or fill them in accurately. Same thing for stations that skew younger. Older females were the most reliable.

    PPM detection eliminates all that sampling bias.

    Reply
  6. mimo

    From what I have read, PPM’s can record data from people using headphones. How that works is you plug the PPM into the headphone jack and then the headphones into the PPM. As far as their ability to “hear” a radio goes, if the radio is detectable to the human ear, then it records the signal if the station is encoded to be heard by a ppm. This may mean that while you’re in a drug store, if you can hear the radio behind the counter, so can the ppm. It may be a station you would never listen to but you were exposed to it, and the PPM records it, and credit is given. They are also set to “go to sleep” if there is no activity after a certain amount of time. So you can not just leave it next to a radio playing your favourite station for 8 hours on end. It requires movement that a normal person would do from time to time. Like a motion sensor…so walking around, the vibrations from a car while driving or any thing else would keep it going and recording.

    Reply
  7. SMS

    Any overnight stats Fagstein?
    Usually I like to listen to dance music on 95.9 after midnight but I was won over by 92.5’s music coming from club Roxbury on Friday and Saturday nights after midnight. Guess I really am showing my age!

    Reply
      1. Steve W

        Fagstein, would you have ratings for The Canadiens games on TSN 690? What kind of numbers(approx.) are they drawing for TSN 690? Would they even outdraw The Alouettes games on CJAD last CFL season? What kind of rating numbers for the Montreal Impact games on CJAD last MSL season?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Fagstein, would you have ratings for The Canadiens games on TSN 690?

          No.

          Ratings for sports games are a bit tricky because the schedule is never exactly the same week to week.

          Reply
          1. Steve W

            What about the Saturday night games that the Canadiens usually play during the NHL season(usually it’s a home Canadiens games, otherwise it’s in another Canadian city like last Saturday in Toronto)? Just curious what type of ratings TSN 690 gets for their live Canadiens’ broadcasts.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Just curious what type of ratings TSN 690 gets for their live Canadiens’ broadcasts.

              Me too, but I don’t have specific numbers. I’ve been told that the ratings go up during Canadiens games, but that’s about it.

              Reply
              1. Steve W

                Dinner Rush radio program on CJAD Weekends is cancelled, or moving to new time-slot? Second weekend not on their CJAD weekend schedule, since Tech Talk taking over their Saturday 3pm time-slot.

  8. Neil K.

    There are no ratings collected for the overnight period, after 1:00 a.m. (or at least it used to be 1:00 a.m.). That’s downtime when the PPM receivers are supposed to be placed in their recharging/docking stations to relay their daily statistics to the mother ship.

    Even in the old days of printed diaries there were no ratings overnight.

    Since we’re living in an ever-increasingly 24-hour world, I imagine at some point in the future this will all be rethought, at least for major markets where there could be just as big a potential audience at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. as at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Hell, just think of all the people who work overnight and listen to radio…

    Reply
  9. Neil K.

    For anyone wondering about radio salaries in 2014, The Beat has posted a job listing for Program Director with a salary of $100,000 plus bonuses and group benefits. It’s highly unusual for any radio job ad anywhere to included the salary. In 25 years in the business I’ve only seen salary mentioned in a job posting maybe half-a-dozen times.

    Reply
  10. neil's bore

    We were discussing radio during our working lunch today and most people said “Whats this radio you speak of?” so I asked who listens to radio in the car in the morning and afternoon drive to work and it was 3 people out of 18.
    Everyone else listens to their own music, audio books and podcasts (if youre into listening podcasts, then you dont just listen to one kind.)

    Ok, so were a tech company and radio is so 20th century so this might skewer reality but my aunts and uncles and cousins have all changed their car listening habits the day they got a radio that plays mp3’s through a USB port. My high school aged nieces spend most of their free time on youtube or listening to their mp3 players/phones and the concept of radio is foreign to them.

    So we came across this site while looknig for radio stats in Mtl so we were a bit surprised seeing the numbers for radio which on the english side seems miniscule.
    Most of us thought that CKGM sports radio was pulling in maybe 50,000 people, not 5,000.
    The biggest question people here had was is it economically feasible with those kind of low numbers?
    One of our software engineers has a youtube channel that has over 1,000,000 views and says “Im bigger than sports radio in Montreal!”

    Its kinda sad-depressing. I dont listen to radio but I think its an important part of a community (than doing your own thing, living in your own world) just like newspapers once were.

    Funny thing about radio, my dentist, computer store guy (small shop), mechanic and baker all listen to ‘that classical music station’ at work. I asked my mechanic who is a pretty blue collar guy if he likes classical and he says “Not really, but I hate commercials and th Coallier station (which is not uncommon way to refer to it) doesnt have any/many.”

    CKAC got closed down in favour of a station that has 680 listeners an hour? Amazing.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Most of us thought that CKGM sports radio was pulling in maybe 50,000 people, not 5,000. The biggest question people here had was is it economically feasible with those kind of low numbers?

      So far the answer has been no. Now that it’s under the same umbrella as the former Astral stations, reducing some overhead, that might change. But clearly staying profitable as a niche station is one of TSN Radio’s challenges.

      One of our software engineers has a youtube channel that has over 1,000,000 views and says “Im bigger than sports radio in Montreal!”

      You’re comparing apples and oranges here. Radio isn’t rated in “views” or “listens”, it’s average audience per hour. If that YouTube channel had an average of 10,000 people watching at any given time, then it could claim to be more popular than CKGM.

      CKAC got closed down in favour of a station that has 680 listeners an hour? Amazing.

      And a hefty government subsidy.

      Reply

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