#9 Mayor Rob Ford Scandal boosted Toronto Talk Radio Ratings

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, it came as no surprise that ratings in November for talk radio stations in Toronto were up because of Mayor Rob Ford’s Crack Smoking Scandal. The Fall PPM ratings were released on December 5, 2013 and show big rating increases at the height of the scandal during the month of November for Toronto’s four news and talk radio stations.

Bell Media Research looked at how the story impacted on ratings during their Fall PPM Ratings Webinar. In the chart below, the blue line represents the combined market share of Newstalk 1010, 680News, CBC Radio One and Talk640 month by month from January to November 2013. You can see how news and talk radio captured anywhere from a 24 share of the market to a 27 share of adults 18+ between January and October. But for the month of November, (the red line) the four news and talk radio stations cornered a 28 share. That is three points higher than the months of March, April and September and four points higher than the months of May, June, July and August 2013.

The conclusion is simple: big news events drives radio tuning

Rob Ford impact on radio

“The spike you see in the red bar is largely driven by listeners tuning in to hear the latest regarding the Toronto mayor,” says Alicia Olson-Keating, the senior director of the Bell Media Research Team.  But the real impact on ratings can be seen in the graph to the right of the bars. It tracks 10 days between October 31st and November 18th when the scandal peaked creating headlines around the world, fodder for the late night US TV talk shows and was the hot water cooler topic across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Most of the events resulted in almost one in three radio listeners Adults 18+ tuning to news and talk radio stations in Toronto. The bigger the revelation, the more people tuned to news and talk radio stations in Toronto. See the  breakdown of the market share for each of the 10 days below the graph.

10 days in November that impacted ratings of the four news and talk radio stations in Toronto

  • 20 share on Oct. 31st when police announced they had the video showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
  • 28 share on Sunday, Nov. 3rd when the mayor hosted his show on Newstalk 1010 three days later.
  • 32 share on Nov. 5th –  two days later when Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine.
  • 32 share the morning of Nov. 6th – after the US late night TV talk shows made fun of the mayor.
  • 30 share on Nov. 7th after another video surfaced showing the mayor in a rage threatening to kill someone.
  • 28 share on Nov. 12th when the Mayor signed Ford Bobbleheads at City Hall.
  • 31 share on Nov. 13th when city councilors voted on motion demanding Ford take a leave of absence.
  • 32 share on Nov. 14th when the mayor made his offensive oral sex comments live on the radio and TV.
  • 28 share on Nov. 15th when Executive Committee said it wanted to remove most of his powers as mayor.
  • 31 share on Nov. 18th – the Monday after the Saturday Night Life Mayor Ford skit.

From where I sit On The Kowch, the Fall 2013 PPM ratings are good news/bad news for the four news and talk radio stations in Toronto. On the surface, it looks like the stations had improved ratings. This is based on a comparison of the Summer 2013 PPM ratings and the Fall 2013 PPM ratings for Adults 12+. But when you compare Fall of 2012 to Fall of 2013, the ratings this year aren’t as good as they were last Fall.

Imagine what the Fall ratings would be like if the mayor hadn’t gotten into a drunken stupor and was caught on video smoking crack

Looking at Adults 12+ ratings for Fall 2012 and Fall 2013 only CBC Radio One had an increase over last fall. From a 9.1 share to a 10.6 share. The others all registered lower ratings this Fall compared to last Fall. 680News went from a 7.5 share to a 6.5 share. Newstalk 1010 dropped from a 6.3 share to a 5.8 share.Talk640 fell from a 2.4 share to a 2.1 share.

Steve Kowch was program director of two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations for 14 years

He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG in Media

He can be reached at steve@kowchmedia.com

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