Analysis: Media Track - Talk Radio completes its sporting transformation, but ratings take a tumble

The UK receives its first sport-dedicated commercial radio station this week when Talk Radio relaunches as Talk Sport. It will complete the transformation of the station, which began with Kelvin MacKenzie’s takeover in October 1998.

The UK receives its first sport-dedicated commercial radio station

this week when Talk Radio relaunches as Talk Sport. It will complete the

transformation of the station, which began with Kelvin MacKenzie’s

takeover in October 1998.



It will also unleash a sports bidding war with its main rival, the BBC’s

Radio 5 Live.



Mackenzie has been increasing steadily the station’s sports content in

direct competition with the BBC. He broke down the corporation’s

stronghold on radio sports rights by protesting against the European

Broadcasting Union, which gave way to a clutch of deals.



However, this period of transition has so far failed to reap

rewards.



Talk’s ratings have been falling throughout the year: in the last Rajar

figures, for September 1999, its weekly reach had fallen by 17.2 per

cent since June, to 1.9 million. Its share of listening also dropped,

from 1.8 per cent in June, to 1.5 per cent in September.



Radio 5 Live’s figures also dropped, but its weekly reach stands at 5.6

million and its share of listening rose to 4.2 per cent.



Despite the steep decline at Talk, the station appears to be building a

loyal audience, with the average number of hours for which listeners

tuned in rising during the year.



Impact, the group’s new sales house, currently targets a male audience

between the ages of 25 and 54 in the BC1C2 category. But the target

group will change with the relaunch to attract a younger 15- to

34-year-old audience.



However, this age group has so far failed to make an impact on the

weekly figures. In the latest data, men in both the 15- to 44-year-old

and 25- to 54-year-old age bands showed a decline of 18 per cent and 13

per cent respectively.



Women, who made up a large proportion of the station’s audience before

its takeover, are rapidly losing interest. According to September’s

figures, female listeners overall fell by 24 per cent compared with the

June survey.





MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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