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Amidst the Olympic medal count

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Adrian Van-Klaveren Adrian Van-Klaveren | 11:12 UK time, Thursday, 2 August 2012

Olympic rings

As well as the Olympic medal count, there's another set of numbers to look at this week - the latest radio listening figures from RAJAR which cover the period from April to June.

Overall the combined reach for 5 live and Sports Extra is 6.36 million listeners a week - down 3% on the year and 5% on the quarter. Both our share of listening and average hours listened per week are encouragingly up whilst the individual figure for 5 live Sports Extra is its second highest ever.

Overall, despite the small fall in reach, the position is a healthy one - it's the fourteenth successive quarter 5 live has been above 6 million. As always, the more important part of these figures is to try to identify and understand the bigger themes.

Two things stand out today.

Firstly the growth of digital - not just the very strong figures for Sports Extra but record-breaking figures for some of the BBC's other digital only stations. We have worked hard to offer a wider range of live sport coverage this spring and summer on Sports Extra so it's very pleasing to see it being recognised. Digital is now mainstream with a growth in DAB listening and especially online listening. The numbers online are still small but the speed of growth - up 37% year on year - shows how important this is likely to be in the future, especially for a station like 5 live which is so much based on live events. Crucially mobile listening is up 25% in the last twelve months and we hope to build on this during London 2012 by encouraging people to listen to 5 live on their mobile wherever they are.

Linked to this are big questions about how people's behaviour is changing as they have access to more and more ways of getting information and entertainment. For example, it is not that long ago that the only immediate ways of keeping up with scores on a Saturday afternoon were by listening to the radio or watching Ceefax. Now, as well as radio, you can watch TV, check an app on your mobile, look at your tablet or sit in front of your PC.

It's a very different set of options and radio has to keep evolving to meet these challenges. One set of RAJAR figures proves nothing but both 5 live's sport output and TalkSport have come under pressure in these particular numbers.

We constantly think about the balance between commentary, information, analysis and personality in our sports output- what is the right mix and what do people value most?

What these figures offer us is a snapshot of what listeners are doing in a world which is changing fast. Olympic Games are a moment to take stock and to think about how much things have changed in a four year period. From Beijing to London, we have seen massive shifts; what we are trying to do is to work out what will happen between now and Rio in 2016.

I believe our coverage of London 2012 is showcasing so many of radio's strengths - intimacy, intensity, immediacy and above all its ability to make you feel you are in ten places at once. Those are the things we want to build on in all of our output over the coming years.

Adrian Van Klaveren is the controller of BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC 5 Live Sports Extra.


  • Comment number 1.

    I have no idea which figures are correct, but The Guardian have reported 'Not such good news for BBC Radio 5 Live, which was down 3.4% on the previous three months and down 6% year on year to 6.15 million'- completely different numbers!

    If the controller is asking 'what is the right mix and what do people value most?' my personal view is far less 'personality' and far more 'information & analysis'.
    My listening has drastically decreased with the increase in the personality lead presenters such as Richard Bacon and Colin Murray and their celebrity froth and the dwindling audience suggest I'm not the only one.
    It's also interesting that the change in listening habits that has been attributed to the fall has not been reflected by the other BBC stations that have risen year-on-year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Firstly, I don't really want to feel as though I am in ten places at once, all I want is a radio station that takes news and sport seriously and does not have so many juvenile and egotistical presenters.If I want comedy routines I will go out to the local Glee Club for the evening ! Good grief 5live is now the only news and sports national radio station since Talksport went all sports chat, you should be gaining listeners by the bucket load but you aren't because hardly anyone can quite work out who this station is supposed to be aimed at ? Seems to be all sport and no news as far as I can hear and the move to Salford as resulted in more Londoncentric coverage recently than ever and thus alienating the rest of the UK.Why not just have a separate news and sports station so we all know where we are ?

  • Comment number 3.

    The alienation I feel when 'experts' are called in from Salford Uni, and Manchester Uni, despite the overwhelming ability of 'experts' in many other national Uni centres, infuriates me every time. It is national radio and the feeling that it has become Manchester local radio is very sad because the rest of the country, bar London, which has to be featured simply because politics and business have their centre there, is totally ignored. Let's forget the torch relay and the Olympics, which do not count. After all, your listeners must go up during this period as there is nowhere else apart from online and the tv for sports fans to go. But @1 and 2 are correct. Poor broadcasters with thin personalities are being allowed to demean your standing and as a national broadcaster you should be seeking the finest people to front your programmes, not those who glory in their own experiences and think they are more entertaining than the people they are interviewing. I wish AVK, that you would time how long it takes Murray to ask a question, and then how long he allows for an answer before beginning another uninterrupted monologue.

    I know I bang on about the cost of the Salford move and the hypocrisy of those who wouldn't move in the end, although their staff were forced to go or lose their slots, but how can you honestly say that commuting up and down to Manchester and London, for presenters and guests, is at all financially worthwhile? I have read a few remarks by guests deploring the trip just for a short time on programmes. So is speaking remotely banned?

    The quality of some of your support staff is poor, but I guess you had to fill the local Salford job quota. But people who do not know simple facts, read the news in a dirge, become irritating when they can't even pronounce words they are reading on the news.

    What are you playing at as a NATIONAL iconic broadcaster???

  • Comment number 4.

    For well over a year you have been losing audience quicker than the Voice, and yet nothing is done - the same presenters spouting the same tired schtick, the same tired formats...

    This, the fourth of five quarterly drops, included unprecedented news and sporting opportunities:The recession, the NHS, bankers, Syria....Jubilee (hah!) Euros, half of Wimbeldon, the climax to the Premier league etc. and the audience was down!

    In the private sector this would not be tolerated or allowed to continue, but this is not the real world. But rather one where over six million pounds a month is spent on lavish wages and failure is rewarded.

    Post Olympics would be a good (belated) time to sort out the whole station. With the exception of one or two presenters there is no-one who can regularly attract and maintain an audience, and it is pitifully obvious that whole areas need a root and branch clear out. But, most likely, nothing will be done and after the jumping and throwing surge in numbers we will be here again with another set of excuses.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes what was I thinking of ? Come next quarter all we'll get is how wonderful everything is at 5live is.The main chummy clique of extremely well paid daily presenters will be told what a fabulous job they are all doing and of course the listeners will still be treated as though they have completely no intelligence whatsoever.Welcome to the fantasy world that is 5live broadcasting.

  • Comment number 6.

    I would like the station to treat it's listeners as adults and cut the ridiculous, childish attitude they have. The text in with your 'cheese stories', 'what's your favourite soup'? need to go. The station has a remit to discuss news but when they do it's tabloid filler stuff. rarely more complex issues. The late night programme is dumbed down with giggling presenters and the 'comedy gang' in the background. Stephen Nolan is not much better, loving the sound of his own voice a little too much for my liking. I used to listen every night but now it is a rarity if I do bother to 'tune in'.

    The morning phone ins are now light fluffy subjects that rely far too much on sports matters. Victoria Derbyshire covers too much trivia and tabloid stuff these days. I can't comment on the afternoon programmes because I don't listen then.
    All I want is good news coverage with clear concise information and things that make you think not items and presenters that make you want to turn off.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have never quite understood why there always seems to be somekind of reference to Talksport in these quarterly Rajar blogs as though that station is to be admired and aspired too.Since the last Rajar figures and Talksport has gone totally all sport, it has lost 10% of its listeners so it has become quite clear to most who take an interest in radio, that the ' quality ' of broadcasting at that particular radio station is definately NOT the direction in which 5live should being going in. Someone please take note.

  • Comment number 8.

    Soon, in the next six months, someone who matters: TimDavie@BBC.co.uk or Entwistle (unlikely) will notice the station has been treading water for years.

    It's as if you've rounded up the most unlikeable people you can find and stuck them in front of a mic and said, "Talk rubbish", especially about yourself or other frothy, twitter realated nonesense. Don't worry, we're chasing the entertainment news and rubbish that's on our namesake Channel five.

    There is no in depthe news. Instead of hearing the head of SKY news on the Leveson enquiry, we heard Cheryl Cole's new single...blah, etc.

    The station is so bad it is only the football that props it up. The non-exclusive FA cup rights as unexplained as the rajars and most of the news.

    If it weren't funny, one would turn away. Carry on.

  • Comment number 9.

    Some excellent observations here that I cannot better. Would simply observe that the main editorial from AVK acts to confirm what we listeners feel about the leadership in the BBC - living in a bubble detached from the outside world and sitting it out until (handsome) pension day.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ msg 8 - I had forgotten about the dreadful music review. Thankfully.

  • Comment number 11.

    ..Mrs. Derbyshire, down wid da kids.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    i agree that the bbc employ too many studio based amateur presenters and confused, inept analysts - i for one do not want my licence fee going to overpaid "talent". I would rather it got invested in intelligent commentary and the red button technology - the best bit of bbc service this olympics has been the ability to by-pass futile studio chit chat and get to the sports action with good commentators and co-commentators.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm afraid Chris Warburton is a champion waffler; not on the case at all. Neither was Rachel today, I think they are all tired of having to keep on top of so much. Well done the Breakfast team in general though, and Tony Livesey's programmes are FANTASTIC!

  • Comment number 15.

    'What do people value most?'
    I value a news and sport channel that broadcasts news and sport using knowledgeable and coherent presenters. I want presenters who are interested in their guests, not in projecting themselves. I want a channel that assumes its listeners are intelligent and don't need everything explained in words of one syllable. I want a channel that doesn't follow the cult of celebrity, down-market mags and the lowest common denominator for everything.
    I used to listen to Radio 5 all day while working. Now the only programmes I listen to are Danny Baker, Kermode & Mayo and Drive (occasionally). I moved to Radio 4 Extra a year or so ago and so have many others from the look of their figures.

  • Comment number 16.

    How do Five Live do it? There dream team to guide us through a Saturday afternoon of Olympic Sport - Colin Murray and Chris Akabusi. I was only dipping in and out but couldn't understand a word from either.

  • Comment number 17.

    Every time I walked past a radio that was on in the house I heard Colin!

    Rachel and George are suffering from laryngitis. Thank goodness for the ones who have DONE what they are talking about on air.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sounds like the ' Derbyshire Factor ' has come into play.All she does,most of the time, is read from a prepared script given to her before hand, so when she and other certain presenters get left without what the researchers have handed out to them, they finally get found out.Please can we have some new voices or more knowledgeable presenters on 5live to freshen it all up or are the present clique contracted to 5live for life ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Binkie: the worry is they probably consider Murray and Bacon as 'the future'. You can imagine AVK agonising on how he can possibly create a daily slot for Murray. Heavan forbid!

    You wonder if management ever undertake or listen to audience research - just pop around the relevant areas of the internet to gauge the anti-Murray comments - both on radio and tv. It's remarkable how anyone so unpopular can continue to be supported.

  • Comment number 20.

    'We constantly think about the balance between commentary, information, analysis and personality in our sports output'

    After listening to Akabusi screaming into the radio on Saturday afternoon, it's pretty clear where they think the balance should be. It reminded me of the original days of Radio Five when there were children's programmes during the day!

    I know it's not specifically sport, but I'd love to know where the controller thinks the balance of commentary, information & analysis lies in an item like Richard Bacon's 'moan-in' because I couldn't hear any of them!

    And finally, wouldn't it be nice to seem some sort of feedback from the station? The comments above are almost all completely constructive criticism about why people are listening less and it would be nice to hear reasons for the changes that have lead to a decline in listenership.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ msg 20....You don't actually think that the station give a flying 4X what we think? We have lost our radio messageboards where we could comment on the programmes we were given. Some of of us have been saying for years that the station was being driven down hill and we have been arrogantly dismissed out of hand. I am not sure of the audience 5live is after anymore, Is it the younger audience with sops like the muisc review and the tabloid news and bands of giggling presenters? It certainly doesn't seem to want to appeal to an older audience with an interest in REAL current affairs not tabloid trivia.

  • Comment number 22.

    It was a good time to bury bad news and to label the blog "Amidst the Olympic medal count" shows just how very arrogant things are at the top of the station. Sorry it is not good enough, as zelds says, to rob anyone of the chance to feed back what they think. Some people will love, some will loathe, but being given the equivalent of Feedback is necessary because otherwise we have texts being selected by the drones. I was on a Livesey phone in and the chap who did the call "what I said to your researcher...) sounded like a Terry Christian clone who persistently said 'yeah' as I was talking.

    AVK just give us a feed back blog and let yourself face your paymasters. You are on a massive salary and paid to keep us listeners engaged. You will note most of the people who post go way back on the station, to the perfect days of Inverdale, the great Vincent Hanna, Fi Glover, Chiles in his pomp, Nick Robinson, I could go on. It shows we still love it, we are hanging on in there, for all its faults and the people we avoid on air...................

  • Comment number 23.

    "I believe our coverage of London 2012 is showcasing so many of radio's strengths - intimacy, intensity, immediacy and above all its ability to make you feel you are in ten places at once. Those are the things we want to build on in all of our output over the coming years." says Adrian Van Klaveren.

    The old adage springs to mind: Quality is more important than quantity.

  • Comment number 24.

    After the very selective reading of texts and tweets praising the station; after the tears and atmosphere - that apparently can only be appreciated by being there; after Murray and the rest have finished talking for the sake of it; after all the presenters have headed for the cultural delights of Orlando or Vegas for an all-inclusive; we will be left with the same Daily Mail cribbed stories and Bacon at the Edinburgh festival, yet again.

  • Comment number 25.

    I will add one comment about the Olympic coverage to add to my general comments about the station above.

    Most of it is crass ... but I would like to say that I think Alan Green's rowing commentary was outstanding. I will no longer listen to him commentating on football as he irritates me too much but, with rowing, he displays an unexpected love and knowledge of the sport and surprising emotion at our successes. Despite having no interest in the sport, I've listened to the rowing at the last two Olympics solely for his coverage because he makes it interesting.

  • Comment number 26.

    Re the last paragraph of @3:

    Last night the same person said Tuxon for Tucson.

  • Comment number 27.

    As usual, no new blog for a week although 'they' can all find time to tweet constantly.

    AVK, can we have a Feedback blog please?

  • Comment number 28.

    Meanwhile they will all be off on leave according to their twitter conversations, and then this blog will shut and there will be nowhere to say anything.


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