Montreal radio ratings: The Beat doubles Virgin, and a spike for Rouge

Numeris came out with its quarterly metered market radio ratings last week. Here’s the top-line data.

I’ll start by pointing out that this is the winter period, covering the Christmas holidays, when radio listening habits are a bit out of the ordinary. But even if you do a year-over-year comparison, two changes are noteworthy.

On the anglo side, The Beat is continuing to pull away from its main competitor Virgin Radio. Among anglophone audiences, The Beat had a higher average audience this winter than Virgin and CHOM combined.

While The Beat’s trendline has been positive since it launched, Virgin’s trendline has been more significantly downward, and CHOM’s a bit less so. Both stations have tumbled so much they’re now neck and neck with CBC Radio One in audience.

On the French side, the big story is the sudden resurgence of Rouge FM, which has surpassed Rythme FM as the top-rated francophone music station. To a lesser extent, Bell’s other station √Čnergie also had a good ratings period, with a jump that seems to have coincided with a drop by CHOM.

As usual, everyone is happy to be number one. Bell’s press release touted Rouge’s success. Cogeco’s 98.5 FM, still the top-rated station overall, was a bit tame in its latest announcement. The Beat touted its “best results ever” among adults and women 25-54. The best Virgin could do was point to having 1.7 million listeners.

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15 thoughts on “Montreal radio ratings: The Beat doubles Virgin, and a spike for Rouge

  1. Dilbert

    I think on the Anglo side, VIrgin and CHOM are suffering from different things, but with the same root cause – (you guessed it) being owned by Bell, being too similar, and not really competing openly in the marketplace.

    The Beat competes against both of them for audience, and does a very good job. CHOM and Virgin try very hard not to compete with each other, and with most of the “parts” being the same (same traffic, same news, same weather, same sports) they are then competing solely on musical preference and DJ preference. Tune from one to the other and the music changes, but the rest remains the same. In reality, with such extensive sharing, their morning and afternoon drive shows are really locking hard into format and timing – traffic report can’t be 3 minutes later, because that is CJAD’s time for traffic!

    CHOM’s saving grace has always been that as the only true rock music station in the marketplace, they do well in the franco market. Virgin use to have a similar market niche, but The Beat took a bunch of that, and now Energie appears to be cleaning up on them as well.

    The ratings suggest one thing: Virgin is well overdue for a format change. Musically they are almost song for song with the Beat, but clearly the Beat has the audience. Virgin as a result needs to be doing something to move around them – and it’s not easy to spot, especially with Bell actually expanding the Virgin brand in the country rather than moving to something new.

    I personally think it’s likely that Bell will use declining ratings as a basis for cutting more staff and perhaps moving all Virgin stations in Canada to a common, non-city identifiable evening and weekend programming. They seem to think the only way to make money is to keep shrinking until it’s profitable, even if that means cutting away what was making you the money to start with!

    1. Geoff

      You do realize that Virgin is still extremely profitable right? It was number 2 in the chain for revenue as recent as last year.

      1. Dilbert

        I do understand that. I also understand that what works very well elsewhere often doesn’t work in Montreal. The decline in listeners is significant, Virgin has had for a long time a marked gap between itself and CHOM, however in the last few years that gap has shrunk and now is pretty much equal on the anglo side, and has fallen quite a bit behind in the overall (all audience) ratings.

        A format change or at least a brand refresh doesn’t look out of line.

        The more interesting back line here is how stations like Energie and especially Rouge appear to be eating away at the market of both the Beat and Virgin in the overall music marketplace. It would appear that fewer francos are listening to the english stations and more are enjoying the french stations. That gap between CHOM and Virgin in the overall ratings is a real tell-tale!

  2. media man

    So it’s strange that Bellmedia is letting the bleeding go on at Virgin..
    Some valid questions arise here.

    Is it time to thank PD Mark Bergman for his services?
    Is it time to dump the tired Virgin brand and perhaps something more Montreal than generic?

  3. Sam Santos

    Do you have Ottawa Radio Ratings for anglophone? Just wondering. I found out some CFGO 1200 personalities were let go. Maybe their ratings were not good.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you have Ottawa Radio Ratings for anglophone?

      Ottawa is not a metered market, so it’s not included in this release. The last Ottawa ratings are from last fall, and showed CFGO (TSN 1200) at a 2.7% share among anglophones, which is the same as it was in the spring and a bit below the previous fall.

  4. Marc

    How much longer can CJFM sustain being a carbon-copy of CKBE with much the same playlist and such? Something’s gotta give. But Bell probably has tons of money to burn so why upset the status quo?

    1. Geoff

      The same amout of time CKBE was in CJFM’s shadow prior to just recently. Let’s not forget their original morning show after Aaron and Tasso was cancelled after 5 years of trying to beat CJFM’s and failing. Also, Aaron was pushed into “retirement” for no reason.

  5. Brett

    I prefer the morning show on Virgin Radio but overall I must say I prefer the playlist of The Best. Virgin overall I find overplays music. They miss so much good rhythmic music that forces me to listen online to 94.7 Hits FM because I don’t get the best signal. If Virgin was to go similar to Canadian stations that sound like Hits FM, just maybe Virgin would start heading twords beating The Beat in ratings.

  6. Bruce

    gee….wonder if Vinny is looking in Virgin windows waving at management…I’m here…I’m here…or is the deal done…old stale programming…CHOM not far behind

    1. Brett

      Vinny left The Beat so he’s no longer there. With Andy Wilson taking morning show spot will The beat stay in #1 morning slot? I only listened because of Vinny. Gave Andy a chance but not a fan.

  7. Anonymous

    I’ll mention something that’s a little strange in my listening behaviour.

    I never would listen to Rytheme (105.7), and Rouge (107.3). As a consumer of mainly anglophone media, I would go directly to the usual stations (CHOM, CKBE, WBTZ). But, since those two stations added a HD Radio signal to their broadcast, I find myself going first to check and see what is being played. And I usually hang around. In the past, those stations weren’t even on my radar.

    Now I’m sure there isn’t a large number of HD Radio units in this market to justify the changes in listeners behaviour. But, I’m one now who is basically checking these two stations first to see what is being played. And I hang around listening to them. Not all day. Maybe about 30 min a day, or until they play some song that forces me to change the channel. But In the past I would never even check them out.

    I also find that I spend a lot of time tuned to CJAD, and CKGM (TSN 690) with their HD Radio signals. I don’t even have a AM Radio in the house. In the past I would never listen to them. Now, I do. Simply because of the clarity of the HD Radio signal.

    Now my reasons are not everybody elses reasons. But, it’s certainly a major change in my listening behaviour.


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