Montreal/Quebec radio ratings: Minor fluctuations in a long-term decline overall

Numeris released top-line data for its spring ratings period last week. There isn’t much new (CJAD still leads among all listeners, The Beat is still the top-rated music station), but a few things of note:

  • CJAD 800 saw a third straight gain, and remains top-rated in the Montreal English-language market, but the overall trend remains downward as fewer people listen to radio.
  • The Beat 92.5 tied for its worst performance in average minute audience in the past five years, and lost ground against Virgin, but still has almost twice the audience of Virgin among anglophones.
  • CHOM 97.7 has been remarkably consistent over the past few years, retaining its audience as other stations lost theirs. We’ll see in the coming months whether the loss of Terry DiMonte will have an impact overall.
  • Virgin 95.9 is still fighting it out with CBC Radio One for market share. You have to wonder how long Bell will let that go on before something dramatic happens. (Replacing its morning team clearly didn’t work.)
  • The Canadiens’ good fortunes once again had a positive impact on TSN 690. (Six of the seven playoff games against the Leafs are included here.) In total average minute audience (anglo and franco combined) it had its best book since 2018.

  • 98.5fm remains top-rated among francophones, and once again claims to be the most listened-to station in Canada. As the francophone rights holder for Canadiens games, the team’s performance had to help a bit.
  • ICI Radio-Canada Première remains mostly stable, though lost some ground against 98.5
  • 91.9 Sports continues to slowly build its audience but remains well below what it was in 2019. With the Canadiens playing late into the spring and maybe early summer, this station’s acquisition of rights to Montreal’s MLS team hasn’t captured peoples’ imagination.

  • Rythme FM remains top-rated among francophone music stations, and appears to have slowed a long-term decline and held up against Rouge, CKOI and others.
  • Rouge and CKOI had their lowest audience in at least five years, but continue to fight for second place with Énergie, which has remained pretty stable.
  • Virgin 95.9 continues to do slightly better than The Beat 92.5 among francophones
  • WKND 99.5 is still building its audience, but more slowly, and is still below what Radio Classique was in 2017 when it last subscribed to Numeris ratings.

  • The overall audience for all measured stations is still low compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

Meanwhile, Numeris also released diary ratings recently, the first in a year after last fall’s report was cancelled due to pandemic complications.

Quebec City

Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • ICI Radio-Canada Première 106,3: 22.8%
  • CHOI Radio X 98.1: 18.8%
  • FM93: 14.2%
  • WKND 91.9: 11.7%
  • M 102.9: 7.6%
  • Rouge 107,5: 5.7%
  • ICI Musique 95,3: 5.6%
  • blvd 102,1: 2.0%
  • Énergie 98,9: 1.7%
  • Vibe 100,9: 1.5%
  • CBC Radio One 104.7: 0.2%

Both Radio-Canada and CHOI saw a significant jump in share. Other stations went up or down a few points, but the biggest change was at Énergie, which dropped its talk format last summer and went back to rock to join the rest of the network. That decision was devastating to its ratings as it went from a 6.0% share to a 1.7% share in a year, losing that audience to CHOI and FM93.


Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • KYK FM 95.7: 26.5%
  • Rouge 96.9: 22.2%
  • ICI Radio-Canada Première 93.7: 12.6%
  • Énergie 94.5: 11.8%
  • CKAJ-FM 92.5: 10.1%
  • ICI Musique 100.9: 5.2%

In Saguenay, KYK climbed above Rouge to take the #1 spot among all audiences 12+. Community station CKAJ signed up for Numeris ratings, and found itself with a 10% share. ICI Musique saw its share almost double from 2.8% last year.


Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • ICI Radio-Canada Première: 19.1%
  • Énergie 106.1: 16.5%
  • Rouge FM 102.7: 16.4%
  • 107,7fm: 10.9%
  • Rythme: 7.1%
  • ICI Musique: 5.9%

In Sherbrooke, ICI Première took top spot over both Bell stations Énergie and Rouge, which are statistically tied. Meanwhile Rythme FM Estrie saw its share drop by almost half.


Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • Rythme 100,1: 14.2%
  • ICI Première: 13.5%
  • Rouge 94,7: 12.6%
  • Énergie 102,3: 12.3%
  • 106,9fm: 9.1%
  • ICI Musique: 8.2%
  • CKBN 90,5: 7.2%

In Trois-Rivières, less than two points separate the top four stations a year after Rouge led handily. Both Radio-Canada stations picked up a couple of points.

Ottawa-Gatineau franco

Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • ICI Première: 21.7%
  • Rouge 94,9: 14.4%
  • 104,7fm: 9.7%
  • WOW 97,1: 7.1%
  • Énergie 104,1: 6.9%
  • ICI Musique: 5.5%
  • 106.1 CHEZ: 3.3%
  • Move 100.3: 3.0%
  • Hot 89.9: 2.5%
  • Pure Country 94: 2.5%
  • Lite 98.5: 2.0%
  • Boom 99.7: 1.7%
  • CBC Radio One: 1.7%
  • CBC Music: 1.6%
  • Kiss 105.3: 1.5%
  • Pop 96.5: 1.2%
  • Jump! 106.9: 1.2%

Among francophones in the national capital, the public broadcaster is back on top by a wide margin, followed by Bell’s Rouge, Cogeco’s talk station 104,7 and RNC Media’s Wow 97.1. RNC’s other station, Pop 96.5, remains in the chaff with the English-language music stations and below even CBC Radio One among francophones. Its 1,750-watt signal limits its upward mobility.

Ottawa-Gatineau anglo

Market share, central market 12+, spring 2021:

  • CBC Radio One: 23.1%
  • Move 100.3: 7.6%
  • Hot 89.9: 7.5%
  • CFRA 580: 7.1%
  • CBC Music: 5.6%
  • Boom 99.7: 5.3%
  • 106.1 CHEZ: 5.2%
  • Live 88.5: 3.7%
  • Pure Country 94: 3.6%
  • TSN 1200: 3.5%
  • CityNews 1310/101.1: 3.2%*
  • Kiss 105.3: 3.1%
  • Lite 98.5: 3.1%
  • Jump! 106.9: 1.9%
  • Rebel 101.7: 1.6%
  • Country 92.3: 1.3%
  • ICI Musique: 1.0%

No surprise that CBC does best by a lot in Ottawa. CFRA slipped a couple of spots from last year, and Bell’s killing of the Majic 100 brand doesn’t seem to have hurt the station now called Move. Boom had a good book, going from 4.0% to 5.3% share, but otherwise most of the music stations stayed within a point of where they normally land in this very crowded market.

Meanwhile, Rogers’ shuffle is not a ratings winner so far. It went from a 9.1 share overall to a 7.6 share. CityNews gained one share point with its new FM simulcast, but the country station went from 3.5 points at 101.1 to 1.3 points on the much lower power 92.3, whose Smiths Falls signal doesn’t get into the city as well.

*The original version of this post had a typo in CityNews’s AM frequency.

23 thoughts on “Montreal/Quebec radio ratings: Minor fluctuations in a long-term decline overall

  1. Franck Wu

    I find almost hard to believe that radio is still a thing. I have not listened to a radio station since sometime in 2008. As soon as decent mobile phone streaming came along I started to use that and have not looked back.

    A few years ago I built my own streaming server and now that with gigabit internet Is available, I provide music streaming to roughly 30 or so friends as well.

    None of us feel there is much life left in radio, radio is for the dinosaurs.

    1. Ian Howarth

      Radio is for dinosaurs? Tell that to an artist who gets airplay of their song for the first time. Or to people in rural areas where internet connections suck and radio is their main lifeline.

  2. Sol Boxenbaum

    CJAD is always going to lead as long as there is no other choice in English radio. The programming, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many of the people I am in contact with, is at an all=time low. Even Coast to Coast had more appeal to the overnight listeners than a talk show broadcasting out of Toronto. Newscasts are never on time and inundated with commercials before, after, and during. Podcasts are the radio of the future, and the future is now.

      1. Brent Michaud

        Coast to Coast was never very good, but the replacement show is heinous. I fall asleep to either CBS 880 or Bloomberg.

  3. Ron

    Gee, I thought the headline would be “CJAD Ratings in Freefall” after their last round of cuts. After the cuts, I switched over to CBC-Montreal and am loving it for the most part.

  4. Dan Shields

    I really like radio, at least in my car but the radio stations make it hard to listen to them. Instead of adding talent aka product when their numbers are down they cut said talent. Insane. I used to listen to CFRA all the time in my car, interspersed with CJAD during the day and then they, again, decimated their staff. They re run their morning show in the evening. Inane. As for CIWW, Ottawa’s 24 hour news station, well, they are not. They run syndicated American sports programmng on the weekends and overnight. Least they did last time I checked them in May. Plus they re run their talk shows at night. Inane, V2. CHOM’s firing Terry DiMonte also strikes me as a doh move.

  5. Yuno Hoo

    CJAD’s listenership is down? really? does anyone think that cancelling almost all of their local shows in favour of playing podcasts and syndicated shows have anything to do with this? Doesn’t anyone see the correlation?

    1. John Horton

      iheart is an American right wing company out of Texas. When did a US company start programing Canadian
      radio stations?

      1. Fagstein Post author

        iHeartMedia does not program Canadian radio stations. Bell has simply licensed the iHeart brand and platform and uses it for its stations in Canada.

  6. Dilbert

    People returning to work / offices might in the long run prop up the listenership a bit for Montreal radio, but more and more people seem to be moving away from OTA and towards other sources. It’s a good indication that radio needs to work to secure and justify a future. When the top stations anglo and franco by far are both talkers, you kind of get a big idea what is working and what isn’t.

    I think there is a longer term effect from the lack of developing a younger audience in most of the stations. Radio is a business where the majority of the listeners are over 50, yet the target demographics are lower than that, which leads to plenty of lite rock / todays best / 90s and beyond / rock detente style stations all crowding to serve that desired money demographic. With a lack of music aimed at a younger audience, there is little reason for anyone under 30 to even own a radio.

    My theory is that CHOM is so stable now because they have continued to play music that aims across a wide enough play list to get younger people listening. It’s sort of the grown up version of college radio or perhaps the Buzz, so they seem to have a most consistent base of listeners. They are getting their money demographic by cultivating it over decades.

    The Ottawa market is interesting, because you can see where a concentration of stations on a single demographic have left each of them with very little in the way of listenership. CBC walks away with about half of the listenership overall, and the rest fight for the scraps. I am thinking this is place where radio formats go to die. I would watch this market because I think this is a place where the major players may start to do drastic things because of a poor bottom line. They could easily prototype their near fully automated national brand style stations here, when you ratings are under 3% you simply have little to lose. That would be the last step before closing them if they make no money. As long as they don’t get flak from the CRTC. I would guess that by 2022 you will see a number of the lower rank stations moved to full or near full automation status, eliminating all local on air staff.

  7. Mario D

    For as much as Terry’ s departure really means the end of an era for Chom , i do not believe that it will have an impact on things to come. People tune in to 97,7 for the music . The beat, virgin, rythme, ckoi, rouge, they all fight for the same piece of real estate with the same music, the same format and the same commercial target. Things will not really get any better than this. Anyway, aren’ t they telling us that they are number one in whatever time slot according to the most recent ratings ?
    CJAD and the CBC being alone in their markets also explains their results. As for the sports talk radio stations in any language you choose in MTL it’s hockey 24 hours a day ,365 days a year. There is a limit one can take on going over and over and over the last game. Limited audience.

  8. Brett

    If Virgin wants to do better, they need a name change. Slightly alter their format to similar to that of 94.7 Hits FM. If that doesn’t work then a complete format change is needed.

    Their current programming and music choices clearly aren’t working the way they want it to.

  9. Raveen

    95.9 getting rid of their best morning show in decades proved to be a complete backfire. What were they thinking? Forcing Dimonte into retirement will be their second big mistake. Bell needs to sell their Montreal stations to Stingray and just get out of Quebec.

    1. Brett

      I have to agree. Virgin isn’t doing well for Bell. They keep letting good shows go. Also I would welcome a new owner for Virgin such as Stingray or Rogers.

      As for CHOM they are keeping consistent numbers so Bell is doing something right. Though a new one could do something that would help improve their ratings. Though I don’t see Bell selling any time soon. Just look at how they where when told they had to sell TSN 690. They did what they did to be able to keep the station.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      If I’m reading this correctly does TSN690 have more overall listeners than 91.9?

      Currently, yes. It’s been the case for the past five quarters.

  10. Jackson

    CJAD’s ratings in the evening drastically dropped w/ the changes. Not too shocking. New show is horrible.

  11. Billy

    I have never seen the love for CJAD. Boring shows, boring people. Mulcair really? Who cares. Internet streaming is the only way. Listen to American stations. No tragically hip every hour and no mention ever of trudeau. Canadian radio especially bell is just so horrid.


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