you say ‘Tomatoe’, I say ‘Tomatoe’…

The Australian picked up on the debate this week, with the headline “Radio stations fight for bragging rights”, highlighting that both the Australian Radio Network and Nova Entertainment were claiming to be “the No 1 radio network”.

And they’re right, if we backtrack the ‘spin’ of Survey #3, it’s there in black and white.

NE positions its combined network cume result as evidence of being Australia’s Number #1 Network with 3.2 Million peeps, whilst ARN positions their combined network share as proof of the same claim.


When push comes to shove, they are technically both right, it just depends which metric you are referencing.

Paul JacksonWhen Radio Today spoke about Survey #3, NE’s Paul Jackson said: Well the cumulative position across the country is extremely strong. We have network shows that are in number one network positions. We have a 305,000 cume position lead over our nearest competition – so 3.28 million listeners. And whichever way we break down the national picture we are in an outstanding position.”

In The Australian article, the CEO of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner, summed it up very diplomatically:

“Each station has a different view. The question comes down to what their advertisers want. Do they want frequency with a particular audience or do they just want to get the message to as many people as possible?”

We asked former Austereo CEO and Managing Director of Marchmedia, Brad March for his take on the question – Is it Share or Cume that matters when it comes to ratings?

“The best measure of ratings performance is how effectively a station converts cume to share. Top rating stations generate strong ratings ‘share ‘ (by converting cume) through their P1 listeners, those that listen to breakfast, and then all day.”

“Cume and time spent listening is largely determined by format. Formats such as Rock / Classic Rock / Talk being low Cume high TSL, CHR being high Cume low TSL, Soft A/C a strong TSL format etc.

“Converting cume to time spent listening and therefore high ratings ‘share’ is the challenge for CD’s with their execution. And also for Group CD’s and CEO’s in the development of their strategic plan .”

During the 2014 survey year Duncan Campbell made it very clear what ARN’s plans were; “bookend the day”. A strong breakfast offering (eg: Kyle and Jackie O) to start the day, ending it with a strong Drive offering – the expansion of Hughesy & Kate across the KIIS network.  

Duncan CampbellWhen we spoke to Duncan about Survey #3 he said: “To have the number one network drive show around the country 4 to 6, and 4 to 7, is just a real testament to the team behind the scenes, and obviously the talent on the air. That is probably one of the big highlights for us.. “

Regarding cume figures, Duncan went on to say in The Australian: “(over time they )give you a good idea of the health of a station”.

“If you have cume declines over multiple surveys, you have an issue,”

Overall, whichever way it is spun, it is good seeing radio getting some headline space; and the reality is neither ARN or Nova Entertainment are making claims that can’t be supported by a specific metric.

But what is the best way to measure it? Is it Cume or Share that counts?

Here’s what Brad March had to say:

“Naturally some stations and radio groups will use whichever figures look strongest for their ‘spin’ to advertisers but ratings  ‘share % ‘ in Australia is the most accurate, and accepted standard, measurement of programming performance,

“Currently the radio group achieving this best nationally in Australia is ARN .”

To understand the Share versus Cume game, Eriks Celmins has a ripper read with the Strategy Playbook: #1 Ratings Realities. In part 1, Eriks goes behind the scenes to reveal the practical fundamentals of building a successful programming strategy. “Why Cume matters … like really matters”. 

You say ‘Tomatoe’, I say ‘Tomatoe’… Your thoughts?

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