South Africa: End-of-Year Slowdown Comes Early for Country Radio


It was a quiet end of the year for South African radio, with no station growth over the previous Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS(r)), and declining time spent listening. The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) has released the final installment of RAMS(r) results for 2007, covering fieldwork which began in mid-July 2007 and ended in mid-October 2007.

Unfortunately, the medium is not ending the year with a bang, although several stations will have something to celebrate, thanks to the growth of their audience figures over the past 12 months. The declining trend for time spent listening to radio is continuing.

SAARF RAMS(r) November 2007 shows that South African adults spent less time consuming radio than they did in both the previous two surveys, and in November 2006. South Africans now listen 20 minutes less on average per day, compared to November last year. The provinces most affected by this trend are Gauteng, the Free State and the Western Cape.

Despite this, total radio listening has remained stable for this RAMS(r) wave when compared to the previous wave of October 2007. There were also no significant changes for individual radio stations period on period.

Across a week, 92.1% of adults listen to radio. On an average Monday to Friday, 74.9% of South Africans consume radio (a significant decline over November 2006, when weekday listening stood at 78.7%). Similar year-on-year declines came through for Saturday and Sunday listening, from 74.2% in RAMS(r) November 2006 to 71.2% currently on Saturdays, and from 73.0% to 68.8% on Sundays.

When taking a longer-term view, several stations also showed significant changes in their listening patterns. Looking across 12 months, Algoa FM grew its weekly reach from 2.1% to 2.5%, with 786,000 listeners in total.

While it hasn't managed to grow its period-on-period audience this time around, Gagasi 99.5 nonetheless continues to feature on the growth charts, increasing its reach from 3.0% in November 2006, to 4.6% per week currently. Its total audience is now at 1,434 million.

Kaya FM 95.9's weekly reach is up from 2.9% a year ago, to 4.1% in RAMS(r) November 2007. At the end of 2006, the station's weekly audience was 899,000, and today it stands at 1.277 million. SAfm's weekly audience of 550 000 a year has grown to 670,000, boosting the station's reach from 1.8% in November 2006 to 2.2% today.

Three stations showed significant declines in their year-on-year audiences. Ikwekwezi FM is down from 5.3% to 4.8% reach per week, although its audience is stable over the previous survey. Lesedi FM's weekly reach has dropped from 12.4% to 11.4%, year on year. Finally Radio Pulpit now reaches 0.6% of all adults each week, compared to 1.6% a year ago.

The next wave of SAARF RAMS(r), and the first release for 2008, is scheduled for 6 February, 2008.

The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) is the provider of research data to the advertising, marketing and media industries. Its main objective is to direct and publish media and product/brand research for the benefit of its stakeholders, thereby providing data for target marketing and a common currency for the buying and selling of media space and time.

The information is also used by media owners for strategic programme and editorial planning. SAARF conducts a number of major media and product/brand surveys. The All Media and Products Survey (AMPS(r)), includes extensive information on media as well as products, services and brands, and is South Africa's only free source of data on over 160 product categories and approximately 1 700 brands. Other important surveys are the Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS(r)); the Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS(r)) and the SAARF Out of Home Media Survey (OHMS).

SAARF also provides comprehensive information on target groups, and supplies segmentation tools which include the SAARF Universal Living Standards Measure (SU-LSM(r)), SAARF Life Stages, and SAARF Lifestyles, which are widely used for segmenting target markets.

(Biz-Community (Cape Town), 14 January 2008)