Radio ratings: Pandemic hits The Beat and Virgin hard

Numeris released its fall metered radio ratings last week, and as usual you can play around with the numbers all you want, but it’s clear there has been am impact on the ratings, particularly for The Beat 92.5 but also for Virgin Radio 95.9, that started around the time we went into lockdown. Both stations lost about a third of their audience since the spring.

Average minute audience, anglophone Montrealers 12+, Aug. 31 to Nov. 29:

  • CJAD 800: 12,200
  • The Beat 92.5: 7,000
  • CHOM 977: 5,500
  • Virgin 95.9: 3,500
  • CBC Radio One: 3,300
  • CBC Music: 1,500
  • TSN 690: 1,400
  • 98,5fm: 1,000
  • Rythme 105,7: 800
  • ICI Radio-Canada Première: 600

CHOM and CJAD have slightly negative trendlines but have managed to hold their own during the pandemic. CHOM remains rated better than Virgin, while CJAD is still the highest-rated English-language station among anglophones, with a stronger share but fewer listeners on average than it had in 2016-18.

Also of note is that CBC Music, formerly Radio Two, has been improving its numbers in Montreal, and had edged out TSN 690 in overall audience. That doesn’t mean TSN is doing horribly, though. The Canadiens’ playoff run this summer prevented it from hitting a summer low as deep as it saw in 2018, and even though the team hasn’t played this fall, it remains on par with ratings in fall 2018 and 2017.

Among francophones, 98,5fm remains unsurprisingly the top-rated station. The average minute audience (12+) ranks as such:

  1. 98,5fm: 32,600
  2. ICI Radio-Canada Première 95,1: 23,000
  3. 105,7 Rythme FM: 20,400
  4. CKOI 96,9: 13,800
  5. 107,3 Rouge: 12,700
  6. Énergie 94,3: 11,700
  7. CHOM 97.7: 8,100
  8. ICI Musique 100,7: 6,700
  9. The Beat 92.5: 5,900
  10. Virgin Radio 95.9: 4,900
  11. WKND 99,5: 2,600
  12. 91,9 Sports: 1,200
  13. CBC Music: 1,000
  14. TSN 690: 600
  15. CJAD 800: 400

Of course, that didn’t stop Bell from declaring victory, saying Énergie was the top-rated station in Montreal, based on counting only those ages 25-54 (the money demo for advertisers). Rythme FM countered that it was the highest-rated music station (using the “big number”), listing all the time periods it is #1 and conveniently ignoring that time period before 8:30am.

The newest kid on the block, WKND 99.5, started slow out of the gate, and still hasn’t built up an audience to match what it saw as Radio Classique. That’s to be expected, as a new radio station takes a while, and the pandemic isn’t helping. It almost doubled its audience from the summer, and we can probably expect those numbers to slowly improve over the coming year.

Numeris cancelled its fall ratings for diary markets (Quebec City, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Ottawa-Gatineau, etc.), so we’ll have to wait for next spring to find out how those stations are doing.

18 thoughts on “Radio ratings: Pandemic hits The Beat and Virgin hard

  1. Dilbert

    The trends continue.

    The Beat, Virgin, and Rouge, all stations that seems to depend highly on listeners who aren’t choosing to listen have taken the biggest hits. These are stations playing in stores, in coffee shops, and at work. It seems that much of their listener base comes from what is effectively incidental, unintentional, or unavoidable situations and not be selection. Stations like CHOM, L’Energie, and CKOI seem to be doing a better job holding their own.

    Listenership overall, anglo and franco, are both in decline. This isn’t just a COVID thing, it’s a trend for more than 5 years now and doesn’t look to be changing.

  2. Pefder Magfrok

    “Numeris cancelled its fall ratings for diary markets ”
    Is this the usual term? I’m guessing but do you mean “secondary markets?”
    Anyhow, very interesting stats! Thanks!

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Diary markets are basically every measured market that isn’t Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The big five are measured using Personal People Meters, literal spying devices that people wear that track what they listen to all day every day. The remaining markets are measured using surveys that are sent out to participants asking them what they listened to. The meters are more accurate, and provide more data, but they’re more expensive.

      It’s the diary survey report that was cancelled because of a lack of reliable data.

  3. Mario D

    There is hope !!! At least this dark year 2020 has gotten people looking for content ! There are waaayyyy too many radio station playing the same music and having the same empty content. Rythme, Rouge,CKOI, VIRGIN, THE BEAT,ENERGIE to name a few…

  4. Anonymous

    There seems to be a radio station that I’m picking up in the Eastern half of Laval on 88.9 fm.
    What is this station?
    I can’t find any info on a station using that frequency in and around the Montreal Broadcast market. There is no RDS data nor station call signs on the radio display. No station ID or call sign that I’ve heard of on the station. But, I have caught some on air French being spoken between the music being played. All the music I’ve spotted so has been in English.

    The CRTC should demand and enforce station ID, Call sign once every hour.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      There seems to be a radio station that I’m picking up in the Eastern half of Laval on 88.9 fm. What is this station?

      If you’re hearing music and French announcers, it’s most likely CIMF-FM-1, which is a transmitter in Hawkesbury, Ont., rebroadcasting the programming of Rouge FM in Gatineau. The signal reaches as far as the Montreal area and I’ve heard it from here before.

      1. Anonymous

        It can’t be CIMF-FM-1 on 88.9fm that I’m picking up.

        1 – It’s odd that the signal I’ve picked up both in the Car on 88.9fm is stronger on the eastern part of Laval. And in fact fades to nothing if I drive towards the west in Laval. Hawksbesburry in North West of Laval. And here is CIMF-FM-1 signal pattern. Way too small to reach Laval.

        2 – I just checked out CIMF-FM on their website to play live what they had on. They had a French language sound. The station I pick up on 88.9 fm at the same time had a English song.

        Is there another 88.9 fm East, North-East of Laval?

        1. Fagstein Post author

          Other possibilities would be CFNJ-FM’s retransmitter in St-Zénon, in the Laurentians, or CJMQ-FM, the student radio station at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke.

          1. Anonymous

            This evening, 88.9fm had English announcers on it. Time check at 8:45pm, and at 9pm. Then the call sign of WKSU and a NPR show at 9pm.

            WKSU-FM is located in Ohio. No way it’s signal reaches Laval.
            Also wrong FM frequency.

            This could be a pirate station somewhere in Laval grabbing stuff and airing it.

  5. Brett

    I know this is not directly related but, any information on 600am? They just got out of playing Christmas music. They are back to regular music. Does a station need to be stunting that long? Would love them to come in as talk radio like they are supposed to. Would be interested to see how they disrupt the ratings of CJAD and CBC radio one.

  6. Marc Quill

    When does Bell’s contract to use the Virgin name for branding their budget mobile and national CHR network end again, anyway?

  7. S. Santos

    If Virgin Radio 95.9’s ratings are still low and The Beat 92.5 gets better ratings, will 95.9 rebrand as Move 96? Move radio formats are in Ottawa, St. Catharines, Brockville and Vancouver. It is adult contemporary. In the Ottawa Valley the Smiths Falls Country Station CKBY moves to 92.3, a weaker signal. So CKBY will not compete in ratings? Just wondering,


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