Breakfast shows across the country are good indicators of the strength of each station and whether there are any changes coming. While there is no doubt that talk still dominates in the major markets, the changes in this survey’s breakfast shift indicate the beginning of a trend for audiences to return to music stations if the pandemic remains under control.
Nine Radio’s Group PD Greg Byrnes told radioinfo’s Peter Saxon after the survey that he is aware listening habits are changing again, but that talk will remain strong. “Talk radio offers companionship, that really sets us apart from the music stations.”
ARN’s Group PD Duncan Campbell told Saxon that people are craving normality. “They seem worried when they don’t have it… they want normality back.” He gave the example of Sydney traffic returning to normal, “and with that comes in-car listening returning to normal and the dominance of music formats. People want to move on from COVID… they’re just desperate to get back to normal.”
In Sydney, music stations had the biggest gains in breakfast. Nova had the biggest jump, gaining 2.2 share points, triple j gained 1.4 and WSFM also gained strongly, up 1.2. Smooth and KIIS also gained slightly. The only music stations that did not increase their breakfast share this survey were 2Day, which dropped slightly and Triple M, which was steady. Talk stations ABC Sydney, 2GB and Sky all dropped in breakfast.
ABC Sydney has a new breakfast presenter, James Valentine, which may also be a change factor in early surveys next year. 2Day breakfast presenter Dave Hughes has told the Daily Telegraph (subscription required) that he intends to buy a property in Sydney and present the show more often from the 2Day studios rather than from Melbourne, where he lives with wife and young family. When the Victorian border was closed he was presenting the show mostly out of SCA’s Melbourne studios.
In Melbourne, Fox had the biggest increase in breakfast, up 1.9 share points. Smooth also had a good increase, up 1.2 and Triple M increased by 1.0. Triple j and KIIS also increased slightly. Nova and Gold decreased slightly in breakfast, but Gold still hold the first FM position and is third behind the talk stations in breakfast. As in Sydney, talk is still top in the breakfast timeslot, but SEN and 3AW shed some share. ABC Melbourne also slipped, but only fractionally, less than 3AW and SEN.
In the smaller markets, where Covid has not had such a severe effect due to border closures, there was not as much change during the year as there was in Sydney and Melbourne, so there has been less change in these markets this survey.
Brisbane did not show the trend for music personality breakfast shows increasing and talk stations falling as clearly as in Sydney and Melbourne. Talk station 4BC had the biggest gain in breakfast, up 1.4, while Nova lost the most this survey, down 2.4 in breakfast. ABC Brisbane dropped, losing 1.2 in breakfast and most other breakfast shows were steady, with only small share movements.
In Adelaide Triple M’s breakfast show surged, up by 2.1 share points, but other music stations dropped. ABC Adelaide’s talk breakfast show had a good increase, up 1.6 in Ali Clarke’s last survey before leaving the station suddenly last week. Adelaide’s other talk station, FIVEaa, dropped by 1.0 share points in breakfast.
As in Adelaide, Perth’s talk station ABC Perth had the biggest increase, up 2.5 share points. Music station Mix 94.5 gained 1.2, while other music stations were mostly steady, expect for triple j, which dropped 2.0 share points in breakfast.
While it is too early to tell yet whether the ACE Radio programming on the Nine Radio music stations will have any effect, it is interesting to look at breakfast ratings for those stations. Magic and 4BH had no change to their breakfast share, 2UE dropped slightly and 3MP, Ace Radio’s new acquisition in the Melbourne market, slipped slightly. None of the movements for these stations was significant at this early stage of Ace Radio’s operations of the stations.
Survey 8 rounds off a great year for talk stations, which have dominated most surveys in Sydney and Melbourne and have also been strong in other markets, but there signs of change coming next year. Expect talk stations to remain strong next year, but their lead may not be as great in the breakfast timeslot when the music personality stations regain some of their previous pre-pandemic strength in the first few surveys.