What Drives Audience Movement?

By Wayne Clouten, BPR

Long-term research conducted by BPR reveals significant levels of turnover in listening preference. What is even more interesting is why people change their listening preference.

On average around 25% of radio listeners in medium to large competitive markets change their radio listening preference (P1 station choice) every month. Of these, around a fifth (5% of market) change for no particular reason, they change because it is their habit and part of their normal listening behaviour. There is nothing you can do to stop this group changing.

Of the remaining 20% the reasons they change are principally divided between reasons that create “Pull” (related to something they perceive as being better on another station) or reasons that generate “Push” (related to something that they disliked or found annoying on their previous station)

The split between “Push” and “Pull” varies depending on format and demography however it is generally 50/50, sometimes reasons that drive “Push” can be as high as 65%.

Traditionally stations place a lot of focus and resources on trying to create “Pull” such as using contesting, advertising and stunts to generate more attention and listening but at least half the battle in building or maintaining audience share is about managing the reasons why your current P1 listeners are switching their listening preference.

A simple way to view the strategic implication of this insight is to imagine your radio station as a bath tub with the water tap turned on and bath plug removed. As water pours in at the top, it just as quickly drains out at the bottom. The task of filling the bathtub is about ensuring more water is flowing into the bath at the top than draining out at the bottom. The task of building a radio stations audience is exactly the same principle. You need to be losing less listening preference then you are gaining.

The other implication of this finding is that much of what a station gains in audience is likely the result of another stations “Push” quite often regardless of what a station may be doing promotionally. In an environment where radio is competing with other audio platforms and winning audience is becoming increasingly more challenging, ensuring that you minimise listening preference loss amongst your P1’s is critical.

How much focus and resources do you place on understanding and managing your stations “Push”?



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