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How did the LBC debate perform?

LBC debate on BBC News channel

LBC achieved mass PR and promotional coverage as a result of hosting the first on air debate between Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage of UKIP.

We’ve already examined the promotional strategy of the debate in this article but what did it actually deliver in terms of audience impacts?

TV Delivery

A piece of content on this scale naturally attracts the kind of TV coverage that any PR would dream of.

Before it even happened the debate, and therefore LBC, achieved mass coverage across major TV newspoints and programming.

A summary from TRP Research using BARB data suggests strong promotional results for the station and a massive spike in audience for Sky News between 1900 – 2000


Total reach was 1.3 million people watching live on Sky News and BBC News with an average of 577,000 across the hour. Sky’s figures were up 32% on the same day last year.

Sky News’ total audience 15.00-23.00 during which the channel was focusing on the LBC debate was 2.1m.

The BBC News channel, which generally performs better than Sky News, achieved 2.9m over the same period.

Most important for building awareness of LBC were the main network bulletins:

  • BBC News at Ten on BBC One. 4.6m average (5.7m watched Nick Robinson’s report which was the first 4 minutes of the bulletin).
  • itv News at 10pm. 2.1m average.
  • Channel 4 News. 0.7m average.

A strong result for LBC delivering massive PR value and exposure for the new national talk radio brand.

Social and online delivery

There were more than 50,000 tweets about the debate during the day with over half (27,701) of them during the hour of the main live debate. This activity generated a spike in social integration for LBC as the below graph shows.

source: Social Amplifer

The event hashtag and multiple terms relating to the debate repeatedly trended worldwide. See Clegg, Farage, #LBCdebate and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

LBC debate trending

The nicely named LBC Twitter Worm was the first time a live real-time Twitter sentiment graph had been used on national media in the UK.

We’re told that the top 10 visited pages on on Wednesday 26 March from social media were all related to the debate, except for this dramatic photo story from the day before.

50% of the traffic via social was straight to the embedded video page.

Additionally, in terms of online traffic – there were more than 108,000 unique users to on the day of the debate with an average of 13,000 concurrent users at any one time, beating previous records.

PR value

Most press and media articles had a positive sentiment and most referenced LBC at some point. Ted Jeory from The Express wrote a very positive piece for the commercial radio industry at large stating:

Its success at securing the showdown was the pinnacle of a startling rise as a media power and one that is proving good radio does not need millions of pounds of BBC public cash …. There was surely only one clear winner–the ambitious and growing radio station which hosted it: LBC.

PR coverage came from all key online media Sky, Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times, Huffington Post and many more.

So how did the LBC debate perform … rather well, in fact. LBC content made the news and scored massive social, PR and TV coverage for the station brand.

A case study that rivals will admire and students of media will reference for years to come.