Radio ratings: CBC continues to climb as Virgin has worst book in a decade

Numeris released its quarterly metered ratings report on Wednesday, and while the order in Montreal hasn’t changed much, there are some trends that should be worrying some people, particularly at Bell Media.

Here’s the top-line data — Average minute audience, Montreal anglo 12+, Nov. 29, 2021 to Feb. 27, 2022:

  • CJAD 800: 11,100
  • The Beat 92.5: 6,500
  • CBC Radio One: 5,700
  • CHOM 977: 3,800
  • 95.9 Virgin Radio: 2,700
  • TSN 690: 2,200
  • CBC Music: 1,300

The good news goes mainly to CBC Radio One, which had a sudden spike in the last ratings book and has maintained it through this one. Its 14.9% market share overall is the highest it’s been in a decade at least and 69% higher than it was just a year ago.

CJAD, while it continues a long-term decline in total audience, remains the market leader by far. TSN 690, meanwhile, is holding its own, with a 5.8% market share that is second only to last summer’s Stanley Cup Final run going back a decade.

On the music side, audiences still haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but the pains are worse for some than others. The Beat, which was hardest hit by the end of “9-to-5” workplace background music, has remained stable since that drop, while 95.9 Virgin Radio has continued a long-term decline, and now has its smallest audience since it launched.

CHOM, which didn’t take much of a pandemic hit, seems to have fallen off significantly since last summer, when Terry DiMonte left. CHOM is hoping the new morning show, with three hosts, will help bring that number back up.

On the French side, 98.5 FM remains king, but ICI Radio-Canada Première has been on a significant upswing and has its largest audience since Numeris began using metered ratings.

As far as music, well it’s still enough of a mess that, when you count out Rythme FM, everyone can make a claim to be #1, and everyone is. Most notable here is that CKOI, which was a clear second place last summer, has fallen back into the pack.


The usual twisting of the numbers to claim overall success, here we go:

12 thoughts on “Radio ratings: CBC continues to climb as Virgin has worst book in a decade

  1. gds

    Since the Montreal market grew by 400k people since 2015, it seems odd that even on the french side the overall audience is going down

  2. Gazoo

    Tuned in to Chom in the morning for the first time since Terry left to give a listen to the new morning show.

    I have not gone back since that 15 minutes.

  3. Dilbert

    First and foremost, I think the mid level Bell executoids are likely crapping their pants at this point. Aside from reasonable performance at TSN radio Montreal (a nearly dead brand), everything else is slowly turning to manure. If they think the new morning show on CHOM will magically fix everything, they have pretty much missed the point.

    Virgin… Virgin… when are they going to take this lame horse out behind the woodshed to do what is needed? Should have been done in 2019. It’s a brand and a format that is long since played out. Bell has many other brands they could bring to the market.

    CJAD is next. Andrew Carter is reaching that magic age where he could retire at any point. Just as importantly, the only other person on staff that might have a hope to do the morning show well is Aaron Rand, and he’s pushing 70 so there is no help. Otherwise, they have not developed anyone at this point to “take the chair”. Bell is really, really dropping the ball here.

    The Beat on the other hand appears to have found it’s legs after the massive COVID drop. It’s stable and appears to have a fairly solid grip on it’s format. I don’t think it’s ever going to rule the world, but they seem to be the winner here. Running a reasonable second to Rythme overall is a pretty good position for a music station.

    Not sure why WKND is crowing about anything. The station was in at 3.3 or 3.4 for many books, and then dumped to 1.9 with the change over. Essentially they have traded one 3.x audience for another 3.x audience. The massive improvement comes only because of massive decline.

    Overall, the real true issue for the radio market is the loss of listeners overall in the last 5 years. That is the elephant in the room that all the happy press releases just don’t deal with. Fewer people are tuning into anything OTA.

    1. Gazoo

      Regarding CJAD, there is Ken Connor who could be put in the morning slot. Then CJAD would have to replace him for the weekend show which could be done.

      Or put Elias in the morning slot and for his current show have his replacement David Heurtel take that slot.

  4. Marc

    For many of its books now I’ve said before and I’ll keep doing so; CJFM needs a format change. Move to a family-friendly AC sound that CFQR was in the ’90s as Q92. Revive the rainbow FM96 logo and branding. Stop trying to be another 92.5 The Beat with an almost identical playlist. Even though hybrid WFH/in-office work will be the new norm, more people are slowly trickling back into the office and so the time is right.

    But Bell won’t do it so long as the ad revenue is at least $1 in the black. The on-air product is irrelevant to them.

  5. Billy

    Jeremy White at The Beat is probably the best radio guy in Montreal. He’s a natural with an immense knowledge of all types of music. I think he is still in his twenties and already a Montreal legend. What leaves me shaking my head about The Beat is the repeated playing of Tina Turner’s 40-year-old song “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and the endless Whitney Houston songs. It’s okay to play these songs, but not 3 times a day. The Beat would be so much better without these songs. I am sure I am not the only person thinking this. Jeremy? Get on it, Pal!

  6. Lawrence Binding

    I’d love to see a breakdown of the TSN numbers. How they can stay on-air with an average of 2200 listerners per minute is beyond me. I am guessing their listeners number in the single digits during non drive-time and get into the hundreds for the morning show, and the thousands for Melnick from 4-7?

  7. Marc Q.

    I’m curious how the other Virgin stations in Canada are faring to see if they’re doing as badly as the Montreal affiliate, which might give us an insight on why they haven’t just cut their losses on this brand.


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