The Beat declares victory after summer ratings surge

Following today’s publication of Numeris’ Summer 2016 results, The Beat 92.5 maintains its ranking as Montreal’s #1 Music Station! The Beat is not only the number one English-language music station among radio listeners of all ages, but it is now is now the Number one RADIO station in the most important demos, Adults 25-54 and Females 25-54!

This was the beginning of a very self-congratulatory press release from 92.5 The Beat on Thursday after learning they had finally beaten competitor Virgin Radio 96 not only overall but among their key demographics.

It’s good news for the station that on Tuesday celebrated its fifth anniversary. But we’ve seen this kind of surge from The Beat before, so it’s too early to tell if the tide has really turned.

What the ratings actually say

As readers of this blog are well aware, there are a lot of ways to play with ratings numbers to claim to be number one. In the case of The Beat, it means ignoring the French market entirely, and ignoring the top-rated English station in the market, CJAD. At which point you’re down to three commercial stations.

The top-line ratings results are posted on Numeris’s website. Here’s what they show:

Montreal anglo market (797,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CJAD CJAD 800 26.4% 13,400 170,800 -11% -8%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 19.2% 9,800 211,200 +11% +7%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 16.3% 8,300 207,300 0 -6%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 12.9% 6,600 145,800 -4% +5%
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 6.2% 3,100 43,500 -3% -6%
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 3.0% 1,500 51,800 +25% +25%
CKGM TSN Radio 690 2.9% 1,500 40,500 -25% -17%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 1.6% 800 19,100 0 +14%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 1.3% 700 31,200 +17% +17%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 1.3% 700 19,200 -12% +17%
CKOI-FM CKOI 1.0% 500 37,000 +43% 0

Other stations have shares below 1%.

Montreal franco market (2,738,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 20.5% 37,300 687,000 -1% +10%
CHMP-FM 98,5 fm 17.0% 31,000 484,700 -18% -13%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 11.9% 21,700 376,400 +19% -15%
CKOI-FM CKOI 10.1% 18,400 480,600 +28% +16%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 7.0% 12,700 414,300 +44% +23%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 7.0% 12,700 400,200 +14% +23%
CBF-FM ICI Première 6.6% 12,000 224,700 -19% -22%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 5.7% 10,400 316,800 +32% +68%
CKMF-FM Énergie 5.3% 9,600 344,600 +8% -16%
CBFX-FM ICI Musique 2.1% 3,900 82,800 -5% -18%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 2.0% 3,700 86,100 -33% -36%
CKLX-FM 91.9 Sport 1.3% 2,400 50,600 0 +242%
CJAD CJAD 800 0.7% 1,200 37,500 0 +50%
CKAC Radio Circulation 0.3% 500 47,200 +67% 0
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 0.3% 500 15,500 0 +67%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 0.2% 300 26,100 -40% -70%
CHRF AM 980 0.0% 100 3,800 0 N/A
CKGM TSN Radio 690 0.0% 0 3,400 0 -100%

AMA means average minute audience, the average number of people who will be tuning into a station during any minute of a 24-hour day.

Daily reach refers to how many listeners will tune into a station for at least one minute during the average day.

Comparisons to spring (Feb. 29-May 29) and last summer (June 1-Aug. 30, 2015) are here for reference. I’d pay more attention to the year-over-year change than the change over spring, since summer ratings tend to go down particularly for non-music stations. And don’t read too much into the percentage changes for stations lower on the chart. The higher margin for error exaggerates the amplitude of the changes.

Listener boycotts had no effect on The Beat

The Beat has reason to be happy, being higher among anglophones than it was both last spring and last summer. But the big win is in the adults 25-54 and women 25-54 demographics, which it had consistently lost to rival Virgin, even while it had a larger audience overall.

“Today’s milestone results are the product of great teamwork and proof that our audience likes the changes we made to the schedule,” GM Luc Tremblay says in the press release. This is in reference to moving Cat Spencer to afternoons and Cousin Vinny to mornings, but left unsaid is that listener anger to the dropping of Kim Sullivan and Sarah Bartok hasn’t resulted in a drop in ratings. The Beat says its 25-54 audience for the morning show went up 35%.

The news isn’t all bad for Virgin and Bell Media. Virgin’s audience is up among francophone listeners (though just like last summer it’s exactly tied with The Beat for audience among francophones), and CHOM has much more franco listeners. Plus, of course, Bell Media owns four of the five commercial stations in the market.

More importantly, we’ve seen this before. During the winter of 2014-15, The Beat and Virgin had similar numbers relative to each other. The Beat’s program director said the station expected to continue to improve. Virgin’s said it was because it covered the Christmas period when The Beat does better with its Christmas music. The next ratings period, Virgin was back on top.

The next ratings period will tell us if this was another fluke. But The Beat has been consistently higher than Virgin in the overall ratings, and this ratings period was as far from Christmas as you can get.

Franco market: Rythme, CKOI see gains

On the francophone side, Rythme FM climbed above 98.5 FM to the top spot. Expect this to be temporary as 98.5’s A team comes back to work and so do the politicians whose activities fuel news-talk stations. (And besides, both stations are owned by Cogeco, so it’s not exactly a huge competition.)

CKOI is getting more respectable numbers than it used to. Not so long ago it was in the gutter, being outperformed by the anglo music stations among francophones. Now it’s well ahead of them, even nipping at the heels of #2 music station Rouge FM. We’ll see if that keeps up.

91.9 Sport is holding its own, with more than three times the audience it had last summer before the format change and equal to what it had in the spring (when presumably there was more sports to talk about). But its market share is still low, and it might need more to be viable as a talk station.

CHRF, the station that was supposed to be Radio Fierté and is now airing easy-listening music and some miscellaneous programming, is still stuck within the margin of error.

26 thoughts on “The Beat declares victory after summer ratings surge

  1. Gord

    These ratings pretty much belong to Sarah Bartok, she was the morning show host during the lead in to the ratings period and wasn’t let go until period had already started, Vinny and Nikki didn’t start until the tail end of the survey. I feel the Beat is giving credit to Vinny and Nikki for Cat and Sarah’s work.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      These ratings pretty much belong to Sarah Bartok, she was the morning show host during the lead in to the ratings period and wasn’t let go until period had already started

      Bartok was let go literally one day into the three-month ratings period. And these are overall numbers, which means morning shows aren’t given more weight than afternoon shows or shows at 3am on Sunday. Besides, when Bartok was on the morning show, it was rated well below its competitors.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      those numbers that Fagstein is reporting is overall ratings Beat vs Virgin. If you compare morning shows on both stations, Virgin is still way ahead. And let’s be honest while we’re at it. Everytime I tuned in during the summer, I barely heard any of the morning shows with their full cast. These misleading celebrations are ridiculous. And if you really believe dismissing Sarah Bartok is the reason they would even start turning it around, that’s absurd. She wasn’t bad AT ALL!

      Reply
      1. Dan Shields

        Yes, I meant HITS, my bad. I presume they don’t pay Numeris so their numbers are excluded. I would be interested to find out how they and 99.9 do on the West Island. They, 94.7, are the only sorta biling station which is cool. I would expect 620WVMT, 107.9 Vermont Public Radio and 92.9 from Burlington would have numbers too.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I would be interested to find out how they and 99.9 do on the West Island.

          So would they. But they have only anecdotal evidence and alternative metrics like Facebook page likes to go on. VPR has 1,000 members in Canada.

          Reply
  2. Anonymous

    But the Beat’s new morning show wasn’t on in June and July. The Spin in Montreal radio is ridiculous. Cat didn’t even start his 5-7 until the second week of August. Luc Tremblay needs to wait till December until the biggest and most important ratings are released.

    Reply
  3. Graham

    While 91.9 Sport is growing, TSN690 is bleeding listeners. Now it cannot just be because the Habs were out of the playoffs.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      how does a non existent radio station in 980 have more listeners in the Francophone market than 690?

      It’s hard to even make that statement definitively because both are so low that the difference is as much due to rounding as anything else. But the most likely explanation is that 980 is a francophone music station while 690 is anglo talk.

      Reply
    2. Mimo

      what do you mean by non-existent? The station is on the air and broadcasting. They’ve been in this format for almost a year.

      Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          how about the discrepancy between 91.9 Sport and TSN690. Habs season did not hurt 91.9 at all.

          Which is probably a sign that 91.9 is still growing its audience. We’ll see if that’s true when the fall ratings come out.

          Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Splitting the radio rating market stats between English and French is kinda stupid. Especially in a market that is very bilingual. And a good percentage that is even trilingual.

    It would be better to merge the list to better determine the market place and market share of each station.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It would be better to merge the list to better determine the market place and market share of each station.

      You can add the average-minute audiences in both languages to get an overall ranking. But the franco market is much larger than the anglo one so Rythme FM and 98.5 will still be on top. And remember that the purpose of ratings is to sell advertising, and advertising is separated into English and French.

      Reply
  5. dilbert

    Interestingly, if you look at Anglo stations, but consider the entire anglo / franco marketplace, then yes, the Beat does appear to be number one ahead of CJAD.

    I also find it interesting that CJAD has a pretty significant drop in listeners, and that drop is mirrored (at least overall) by the gains at the Beat.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Interestingly, if you look at Anglo stations, but consider the entire anglo / franco marketplace, then yes, the Beat does appear to be number one ahead of CJAD.

      This is correct. 22,500 listeners vs 14,600.

      I also find it interesting that CJAD has a pretty significant drop in listeners, and that drop is mirrored (at least overall) by the gains at the Beat.

      A 10% drop isn’t that significant to me, considering the accuracy of this ratings system. And CJAD still has a 26% market share, which stations in other markets would kill for.

      Reply
      1. dilbert

        No single ratings book makes the market, but at the same time, it can show a trend. This isn’t the first time that the Beat has been significantly ahead in the ratings, but it is the first time they are demographically ahead as well in those key measurements. This is a trend that started a couple of years ago, and now they are solidly ahead of Virgin and certainly the number 1 anglo station in Montreal.

        CJAD’s drop may be a single book affair, but I personally think it is the start of a trend. Except for the take on the morning shows of each Bell station, you are generally playing with the same information, the same traffic reporter, and such. Where as Bell use to win with people moving from station to another, I think it’s now a question of “bell inc stations versus Beat and others”. Moving from CJAD to CHOM in the morning changes a couple of the people and the slant (more music less yapping) but doesn’t really change much for you.

        I also think the ratings would be much more interesting if they considered ALL possibly listening options rather than only those in market (and apparently paying for the rting service). I suspect you would see a big enough demographic listening to border blaster stations and such, and I think that it would be bad for Virgin and CHOM in particular. Too bad we can’t get those sort of numbers.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I also think the ratings would be much more interesting if they considered ALL possibly listening options rather than only those in market (and apparently paying for the rting service).

          Numeris will measure spill stations, but the station has to pay to be measured.

          Reply
  6. Brett

    Some times I wonder what CKKI 89.9 Kic Country’s ratings would be. Guess we will never know as they don’t subscribe to Numeris.

    It would be interesting to see where they place. Sure they market themselves as a Montreal station but have a signal that’s more south of the city.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Some times I wonder what CKKI 89.9 Kic Country’s ratings would be.

      Considering that station has a mediocre signal to the north and east, and it does virtually no marketing, I’m guessing it probably wouldn’t do too well in the ratings.

      Reply
      1. Brett

        Plus right now they are only music during the week, with no live shows. When I asked what happened to the shows I was told, they are just music for now.

        The only shows CKKI have are weekend syndicated shows. Their weekday host have been removed from their website.

        Maybe going through some programming changes. One could only wonder why they didn’t make an announcement on their website or social media, to why they stopped local programming.

        Maybe if they did more then just one commercial during commercial breaks, they would have funds to hire real talent. In one hour they air only 2 commercials.

        Reply
        1. Dan Shields

          They, KIC, refer to themselves as “Montreal’s Independant Radio”. Read that one more time. “…Independant…” The devil is in the details.

          Reply
          1. Brett

            That is true, but if you look at independent radio station 104.7 The Point in Burlington Vermont they sound like any Burlington station. I mean by the amount of advertising they air. KiC could could sound like that if they wanted to.

            Reply

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