Commercial Free Mornings. It’s a programmer’s dream and a reality for one station. And the show is generating revenue too.
Virgin Radio in the UK ditched its ads from its morning show in favor of an exclusive sponsorship. After enticing BBC Radio 2 breakfast presenter, Chris Evans, to leave his #1 rated show to return Virgin Radio, the wise operators at Wireless Group knew the ad breaks could be barrier for listeners to follow Chris to a commercial station. They believed going ad break free would help attract new listeners accustomed to ad free formats and it would create a fantastic partnership opportunity for an advertiser to stand out in the commercial radio market.
Sky (British broadcaster and telecommunications company) has been the sole sponsor of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show since its inception in early 2019. The package includes credits and promotional trails, social media support across Virgin Radio UK platforms and the full commitment of Virgin’s programming to deliver outstanding custom content for Sky.
Wireless believes sponsorship is a sustainable strategy and should be a key part of a commercial strategy alongside regular spot advertising, digital audio and all other digital channels. Sponsorships are a major revenue stream for sister station TalkSPORT too, and last summer Wireless launched Times Radio (The Times is one of Britain’s most trustworthy newspapers and began publishing in the late 1700s) with an ad break free format 24/7. Last month Virgin Radio hired another iconic presenter from the BBC and found a new sponsor for his ad break free weekend programs.
Wireless touts’ sponsorships deliver better results for the right partners and allows their business to plan with more stability. “There isn’t really a downside. Listeners get more great music and more chat from our presenters, the sponsor gets a really effective campaign, and the station gets more listeners and a happy client” Mike Cass, Virgin Radio, Content Director.
10+ minutes of spot ad breaks per hour is making it increasingly challenging for Radio to maintain its competitiveness in a digital and on-demand audio world. Virgin Radio UK’s ad break free sponsorships is an unconventional approach providing its listeners premium programming free of traditional ad breaks. How can programming and sales at your station work together to find alternative revenue generating opportunities and partnerships that benefit listeners, advertisers, and the bottom line?
Watch Chris Evans Ad Break Free launch TV ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N07HMerObwg
Ken Benson is a multi-award-winning contemporary radio and music television programmer. Today, Ken is a co-founder and partner of P1 Media Group, providing insights and strategies to leading media companies around the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org