Commercial Radio Takes The Lion’s Share
Commercial Radio has beaten BBC Radio on share of listening for the first time since 1999
May 18, 2020
We learnt more this week about Times Radio, a new radio station from News UK and their radio division Wireless, launching on Monday 29th June. The station will be broadcast on DAB, online and in a special Times Radio app.
This is a UK media first – a newspaper launching a radio station – and marks the most significant development since News UK’s purchase of Wireless in late 2016.
Since the purchase, the businesses have been integrated, and we’ve seen a number of developments both on the programming and commercial side: talkSPORT got the budget to enable it to compete sports broadcasting rights with the BBC, and to hire presenters such as Freddie Flintoff.
Similarly, Virgin Radio snapped up Chris Evans from the BBC to present the Virgin breakfast show and help turbo charge the station audience numbers. talkRADIO has seen its schedule reconfigured, and all brands have seen marketing activity across News UK’s owned assets.
Unlike the existing commercial news and speech stations, Times Radio is not a phone-in station – it will not be taking callers to air. The output is being configured to be balanced and insightful, and to allow time for in-depth analysis of topics.
The station will draw on Times Newspaper resources for its content and will be staffed by a good number of journalists from across the existing News UK portfolio, as well as other established figures. The Breakfast Show Monday – Thursday will be presented by Stig Abell and Aasmah Mir, who joins fresh from the BBC, as does Monday – Thursday Drivetime presenter John Pienaar. Cathy Newman from Channel 4 News will present Drivetime on Fridays, and Tom Newton Dunn is joining from The Sun as Chief Political correspondent. Ex politician and TV presenter Michael Portillo is another key signing.
Over the last 24 months or so we’ve seen news and speech stations grow exponentially. We reported last week on the latest Q1 2020 RAJAR results that LBC and talkRADIO had increased their audience by 24% and 25% respectively. This pattern of growth shows no sign of abating given the past and current news agenda, and we know from Radiocentre research that Radio is the most trusted source for national news.
We’ve also seen a rise of daily news podcasts that are also catering for our thirst for news and information. Times Radio is launching into a market that is on an upward audience curve, and is using the audio platform to grow its share of the whole news market, and to bring The Times brand to a new audience.
Commercially, the station will be ad break free, and advertisers can only access the station by sponsoring individual show or editorial segments such as business updates. There is plenty of scope for brands to get involved, though, and an added advantage is that there will be opportunities to align content on air and across all The Times and Sunday Times platforms.
There is no doubt that News UK is committed to audio as a key part of its portfolio, and this new launch demonstrates it. Speech radio is the most expensive style of radio to operate, and the presenter line-up shows that they are putting their full resources behind it.
While the audience aspirations are ambitious, News UK have huge internal assets and are taking an existing media brand to the airwaves, so trial we think will be strong, given the awareness they can create through their existing Times readership. They will be using all their owned assets as a marketing tool, plus other paid marketing activities.
Ultimately, we believe Times Radio will be a success and we would urge any advertiser to get involved from launch.
We know from our experience that getting involved at a launch phase can give an added advantage when shaping any solution for your objectives… and don’t forget, the only way to access the station will be as a sponsorship partner and not through airtime.
For more information and to discuss any opportunities on Times Radio or
any aspect of the audio market please contact firstname.lastname@example.org