Sunday, August 8, 2010

CBC Radio Two market share - the "Spring 2010" results

After I completed my last entry on this blog analyzing CBC Radio 2’s market share, I tried once again to access the Top Line Radio data on the BBM web site and, lo and behold, I was able to access the site. The “Spring 2010” radio diary data is now available on the BBM site, as well as new PPM survey data for Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The “Spring 2010” survey (former the “S2” survey using the BBM’s terminology) covers the period March 1 – April 25. PPM data is available for the periods January 25 – April 25 and for March 1 – May 30 for those cities surveyed using the PPM. (Note: I wrote this blog entry at then end of June, then neglected to post it. The BBM now has data for March 29 - June 27 and for April 26 - July 25 for those markets surveyed by the PPM on their web site. I'll analyze these results in a subsequent blog entry. Sorry about that.)

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, the BBM previously released four surveys per year to the general public, terming these surveys S1, S2, S3 and S4. The surveys relied on listener diary data.

The introduction of the PPM, first in the Montreal market, then in the Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton markets, meant that the survey data no longer aligns precisely with the S1, S2, S3 and S4 periods previously used. To date, there are surveys based on PPM data covering the periods Nov. 28 2009 – Feb. 28 , Dec. 28 2009 – March 28 2010, January 25 – April 25 and for March 1 – May 30. There is a single survey based on diary data. I term the surveys based on PPM data “S1 2010”, “S2 2010”, “S3 2010” and “S4 2010” for consistency with past analyses. It should be noted that the BBM does not use these terms. I am aligning the “Spring 2010” survey with the “S4 2010” survey, for the purposes of comparison with past years. Once again, this is not the BBM’s terminology, but mine.

As you may recall from past blog entries (S2 2010, S4 2009, S3 2009, S1 2009, S3 2008), we are comparing CBC Radio 2’s market share, as measured by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement in their latest survey, with CBC Radio 2’s market share before the first phase of the program restructuring was implemented in March, 2007. The last BBM survey to measure the CBC Radio 2 audience listening to the “old” programming (i.e. the programming before Phase I of CBC Radio 2’s restructuring was introduced) was, using the BBM’s old terminology, the S2 2007 survey. The latest survey data is taken from the BBM’s web site, at, for the major radio markets surveyed by the BBM for S4 2010.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, the stations included in the BBM surveys have varied from survey to survey. Please see this entry for a discussion of how I have compared the total listening audience for stations surveyed by the BBM between survey periods.

Now, onto the results.

I find the results for the latest survey absolutely astounding. Consider this: while the total listening audience in the major markets surveyed by the BBM has fallen 8.6% compared with S2 2007, the last quarter during which CBC Radio 2 featured the “old” classical format, CBC Radio 2’s audience has fallen a remarkable 40.2%, from a total of 710,800 listeners to 425,400 listeners. Consider the Vancouver audience: the number listening to CBC Radio 2 has fallen by 62.3%. 62.3%! Isn’t that just a stunning reversal of fortune for CBC Radio 2 in the Vancouver market?

While the change to the use of the PPM has been identified by some media commentators as one cause for the change in listener totals, one has to assume that this is only part of the cause. Another reason? I suspect that the radio listening audience is simply abandoning CBC Radio 2, finding the programming too similar, and not as enjoyable, as commercial radio stations.

Given that the CBC management implemented this programming restructuring to broaden the appeal of CBC Radio 2, can we not therefore conclude that this experiment has been a big, fat, resounding failure?

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