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All ears: usual suspects jockey for position as latest radio survey released

As we've now come to expect, the *, #, ##, ** and ^ flowed freely as the two big commercial radio players made their usual claims for the top spots following the release of the latest National Commercial Radio Survey figures. And, despite the typical murmurings about the methodology of the Research International study, which gets respondents around the country to fill in a diary about their listening habits, Gill Stewart, general manager of The Radio Bureau, says the results paint a fairly positive picture when compared to the previous year.

"The latest radio audience measurement survey across thirteen markets highlights growth in national and Auckland commercial radio cumulative audiences over the same survey release period last year against all major demographics," she says. And, going back further, radio audience listenership trends over the past decade demonstrate a 12 percent growth in cumulative audience levels (all people 10+, Mon-Sun 6am-12mn).

Just as TV is increasingly focusing on online news and newspapers are increasingly focusing on video content, she says recent figures show radio is increasingly focusing online—and listeners are heading there in big numbers.

"For example, last month, there were 1,001,678 unique browsers across all radio stations and 10,573,203 page impressions," says Stewart. "That’s an average of ten pages per browser, and demonstrates very clearly the deep engagement that listeners have with radio. For youth brands, the story is even stronger, with 624,230 unique browsers across all youth stations and 8,308,935 page impressions, giving us an average 13 pages per browser. Over the past two years, unique browsers across all youth stations have increased 71 percent with a growth in page impressions of 73 percent. Similarly, youth cumulative audiences have remained unchanged over the past seven years."

As well as increased overall cume audience numbers and web figures, ad revenue was up ten percent during the first half of this year, she says, and radio is maintaining its share with around 10-11 percent of the total advertising spend.

When it comes to the specific winners and losers among individual stations, many claims are made and confusion often reigns because radio stations tend to abide by the Monday to Sunday 12mn-12am time frame rather than the 6am-12mn used by TRB.

A MediaWorks release said The Edge has celebrated five consecutive years as the most popular music station in New Zealand (428,200 listeners nationwide, over 30,000 more than any other station) and The Rock was judged as the most listened to music station in New Zealand for the sixth year running.

"The results were also good news for RadioLIVE’s afternoon schedule, with Willie Jackson and John Tamihere’s early afternoon programme, and Paul Henry’s drive slot both increasing their number of listeners," the release said.

MediaWorks talk general manager Jana Rangooni told the NZ Herald the figures for Henry's drive show had grown by 10,000 listeners or 17 percent more than when Brent Impey was on the mike. But both the Radio Network's group general manger of content David Brice and media commentator Brian Edwards claimed it wasn't a particularly substantial rise considering all the hooplah surrounding his arrival.

The Radio Network says Newstalk ZB continues to be the most listened to and number one radio station in New Zealand, increasing share of listening to 12.8 percent. However, the TRB figures showed Newstalk ZB had a share of 12.1 percent and the last survey at the start of the year showed it had a share of 14.2.

"It’s a credit to the on and off air teams that we can produce such strong results not just in Auckland, but now also in Christchurch and Wellington. Our strategy to simulcast Newstalk ZB on FM in those markets for the first time has seen a big jump in our audiences. Newstalk ZB now rates a clean sweep at number one in all three metro markets,” says Brice. “Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Breakfast performed brilliantly, rating number one in all three metro markets. Mike remains the nation’s most popular breakfast show with an increased national share of listening of 17 percent ... We are delighted that after our refresh of the Classic Hits brand this year and the new on air lineup, that the station is again the number one station in the key 25-54 demographic in Auckland."

TRN has a total of nearly 1.4 million listeners each week and while Brice says this is down on the previous survey, he says all radio has lost audience, something he attributes to the Rugby World Cup.

"We are confident that we will see the cume bounce back in next year’s first survey," he says.

Other figures of note in this survey were that, nationally, household shoppers with kids listened to radio for longer with Time Spent Listening up from 15hrs 10min to 16hrs 6 mins per week. More FM Breakfast had the largest growth, up 1.5 share points to 8.6 percent, however Newstalk ZB still dominates this day part with a 17 percent share (All people 10+).

In Auckland, three new stations—Life FM, Rhema FM and Radio Waatea—featured in this survey and household shoppers with kids spent an extra—and surprisingly large—2hr 17mins per week with the wireless. This means they now listen for 16hr 17 mins per week.

The Breeze increased its share against the Household Shopper with kids demographic, adding 4.5 share points to take it from 3% to 7.5%.

Off the back of large listenership growth last survey, the Wellington market has continued to grow audience with an additional 6,000 listeners now tuning in. This takes total weekly listenership to 223,800 (All people 10+).

Newstalk ZB had a strong survey growing by 3.5 percentage points and has leapfrogged ZB from third place last survey into the number one spot (All people 10+ Share). ZM maintained its place as the station with the most listeners now reaching a cumulative audience of 65,000 listeners every week (All people 10+).

The Wellington market remains one of New Zealand’s most competitive with ZM, ZB, The Breeze and The Rock all battling it out for the top spots across the major target demographics.

The last survey wasn't conducted in Christchurch due to the earthquake, but the results this time show listeners are tuning into radio for longer, with Time Spent Listening up 1hr 31 mins to 19hrs 36mins per week (All people 10+). Newstalk ZB has regained the spot as number one station in Christchurch (All people 10+), increasing share from 10.1% to 16.6% and now reaching 63,100 listeners, something largely attributable to the frequency change.

More FM has the most number of listeners with a cumulative audience of 65,200 (All people 10+). It is also the number one station for All people 25-54 with a 15.3 percent share of listening, along with a cumulative reach of 41,400.

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