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The Audience Could Be Pushing, Pulling Or Just Changing

With digital transition firmly taking hold of the fertile imagination, attention spans notwithstanding, firm data is ground control. More data should yield greater understanding. Indeed, it does. But that depends on what, exactly, folks want to understand. After that, everything is just as complex as it was last week.

behold!Released this week were radio audience estimates for Germany - the MA Radio 2017/I. Data collection was done, actually, through the last quarter 2016. Compared with the same period last year the radio listening universe Monday through Friday, 06h00 to 18h00, persons 10+ is just about unchanged - 78.1% of the population. The MA Radio survey is designed solely for media buyers.

Individual station rankings changed, some more than others. Still the most listened to radio brand in Germany is Radio NRW, a network of local stations that many media watchers like to dismiss. Daily reach for Radio NRW rose 5.2% year on year to just under 1.7 million. Three public radio channels followed: pop/rock WDR 2 (Westdeutsch Rundfunk), pop music 1Live (Westdeutsch Rundfunk) and pop music SWR 3 (Südwestrundfunk), which saw 9.2% of daily reach evaporate.

Fifth in the ranking is Antenne Bayern, dropping from 2nd one year on, losing 19.7% in daily reach. The next five are all public channels, Bayern 3 (Bayerischer Rundfunk - BR) noticably lower, MDR 1 Radio Sachsen noticably up. The next private radio station - 11th - is Radio FFH, which posted a jaw dropping daily reach loss of 21.7%. Of the remaining four private stations in the top 20 only Radio Schleswig-Holstein gained, and gained impressively - 28.1% year on year, best in five years. (See Germany MA Radio daily reach trend chart here - in Resources)

Antenne Bayern and Radio FFH have been - and remain - phenomenally successful radio operations. Both are legacy full-service adult-contemporary radio brands: Antenne Bayern serving Bavaria since 1988, Radio FFH in Hesse since 1989. Both have sister stations in their respective markets, including brand extensions. Both are distributed across analogue (FM) and digital platforms. The semi-annual MA Radio audience estimates set ad rates.

Competitive effects in either Bavaria or Hesse do not seem to align with the Antenne Bavaria or Radio FFH losses, respectively. Public broadcaster BR had mixed results among its five channels: traditional music Bayern 1, pop music Bayern 3 and BR Klassik lower; arts and culture Bayern 2 and all-news BR aktuell - both non-commercial - up. Rock Antenne, sister channel of Antenne Bayern, was up very slightly. Most other stations in Bavaria were by percentage significantly lower, the exception being Munich local station 95.5 Charivari.

The pattern in Hesse is the same. Public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) had mixed results: full-service pop music hr3 and youth channel You FM were off a bit, soft A/C hr1 and traditional music h4 were up slightly with hr-Info up noticably. Local private stations in Hesse all suffered.

German media watchers suggested, widely, correlation of certain top management issues with audience declines at Antenne Bayern. Long serving program director Valerie Weber resigned in 2014 to take over as WDR radio director. Martin Kunze from NRW was named successor and left after 20 months in April 2016. After a six-month search, internal candidate Ina Tenz was named, taking over January 1st. Two WDR radio channels - WDR 2 and 1Live - are ranked in the top five, both showing modest audience gains.

Germany being a large country with a large, diverse radio offering other outliers are illuminating. In the Berlin-Brandenberg market public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) suffered as main general interest channel Antenne Brandenberg fell 20.7% in daily reach behind private A/C station 104.7 RTL, which was up 11.7% year on year. Local classic rock station Star FM 87.9 was up 47.3% in daily reach and Schlager music station Radio B2 was up 38.8%. All-news RBB Inforadio was up 33.9% in daily reach.

As a joint industry committee Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media Analyse (AGMA) is challenged by digital distribution. DAB-only channels are given their own audience estimates, a disincentive for broadcasters to develop new digital stations. That could change, eventually. The AGMA and State regulators have different reference points on the universe of DAB+ listening.

Coincident with the release of the MA Radio 2017/I results were yet another radio-related tally, the MA 2017 IP Audio I ranking streaming services. For all the obvious reasons, the results are different. Virtually all the top 100 station live streams are gaining. WDR’s 1Live is on top, again, with 7.3 million “sessions” per month. SWR3 is second. None even remotely compete with multi-channel streaming service Spotify - 107.5 million. The advertising people are excited.

See also in ftmKnowledge

Europe's Radio - Western Europe

Opportunity meets tradition in Western Europe's radio broadcasting. Change has come fast and yet oh, so slowly. This ftm Knowledge file contains material and resources on public and private radio broadcasting in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Netherlands and Switzerland. 244 pages. Resources. PDF (September 2013)

Order here

Media in Germany

Home to Europe's biggest broadcasters and publishers, Germany is a highly competitive media market. Transition to digital television was easy, other media not so simple, unsuprising with Germany's complex regulation and business structures. This Knowledge file reports on media leaders and followers. Includes Resources 214 pages PDF (July 2013)

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