Galway Bay FM’s listenership

August 25th, 2005 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

The BCI has just released the JNLR listenership figures for the past year. RTÉ is continuing its slow slide, but still has a share of 40.5% between the three stations measured (Radio 1, 2FM and Lyric FM).

Personally, though, I always rush to see how my old local commercial station, Galway Bay FM, is doing, and I can’t imagine that they’re drinking champagne today. Their reach – the proportion of the population that ‘listened yesterday’ is stable at 48%, around the half-way point for commercial stations outside of Dublin and Cork, but their share is substantially down at 29.2%, and they are now the third worst performing station (again, outside of Dublin and Cork) on this measure. This is all the more surprising because in weekly reach (those who listened in the last 7 days) they are up at 82%, the third best figure in the country.

For those wondering why the share figures matter so much, when the reach figures are doing OK, it is important to remember that radio advertising is largely quoted on the basis of ‘CPM’ or Cost Per Thousand. [Yes, that M isn’t a typo, it’s just what they use in ‘the business.’] So, while reach reflects the proportion of the population that occasionally listens, and might be persuaded to stay tuned for longer, given perhaps more compelling programming, the share largely influences the income that the station can generate.

Indeed, in some markets – and I’m not sure if the Irish market uses this approach – I understand that advertisers will be quoted a CPM and pay on the basis of expected listenership. However, if the listenership then falls below what was expected advertisers get a rebate, to bring the CPM down to what was quoted, based on the actual (imputed) listenership for that period. If that method is used – and as I say I don’t know if the Irish market uses it – then Galway Bay FM could be looking to repay a significant proportion of its income from the past year.

In any event, the station’s income generating possibilities are severely curtailed if listenership has fallen. Since rates are quoted on a CPM, established advertisers will be loath to pay a much increased rate, even if the overall cost stays fairly static.

I should also mention that I’ve heard rumours that UTV, which owns the Dublin-based agency that deals with Galway Bay FM’s advertising, is interested in buying the station, but has so far been rebuffed. The information is some months old at this point, but I wonder if the changing listenership figures will have any impact on the situation.

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