Perhaps we need to put that headline into context. Last survey when I asked SCA’s Guy Dobson whether Perth’s 94.5 fm would regain its number one crown he said, “I’ll tell you this, Sacko, if Mix FM in Perth isn’t number one next survey, I will come into the radioinfo offices dressed as a woman.” As a safety measure he got out of the country for this survey (Olympic boxing beckoned) leaving it to Head of Content Craig Bruce to fend for him should his prediction prove foolhardy. All’s well that ends well, and despite Craig’s assertion that “Dobbo would be a very attractive woman,” Mix has fought back and happily I don’t have to find out for myself.
With that out of the way, let us tackle this three pronged analysis of Survey 5 as we speak to radio’s fiercest competitors on the FM band, ARN’s Duncan Campbell, DMG’s Paul Jackson and Craig Bruce.
Let’s start with a summary from Craig, “I just think overall we’re really happy with the day. And it’s easy for us to say that, but all of our stations in the smaller markets, Perth Brisbane and Adelaide, all 6 have gone up. ?FOX and 2DAY remain number one, 2MMM very strong, 3MMM had a bad day today, but a very strong year so we feel that the networks set up well.”
Taking smoothfm out of the equation (we dealt with it separately) DMG’s Paul Jackson (right) sees his network’s performance this way: “The Novas are fine. Overall you’re playing at the top end of the market, We’re very happy with how we are rolling in Adelaide. We’re pretty dominant under 40 – as we are in Perth as well.
“Brisbane has a cume of 507,000 – that’s their record score. And two back to back number one’s. And to be fair, Brisbane’s always done very well, but we haven’t had any outright number ones in a long time. Jay’s turned in two in a row there and we’re happy with that. Sydney and Melbourne are in solid positions. They’ve put in decent performances.”
ARN’s Duncan Campbell can also put a positive spin on his network’s results: “It’s a great result for us. We’ve had very strong results in Melbourne and Adelaide. And we’ve effectively turned around the issues we’ve had in Brisbane. WS remains very strong and the issue we’re aware of is MIX 106.5. From an ARN perspective, we’re very confident and very impressed by the results, to be honest.
Dig a little deeper and all three program supremoes will concede that they have at least one underperforming asset that needs attention.
A drop of 1.3 for Triple M in Melbourne is perhaps the most disappointing result for the group on an otherwise bright day. “I think we’ve probably had a little bit of an issue with consistency over the last 4 to 6 weeks, with the Olympics coming up we’ve had Eddie (McGuire) out of the market in the lead-up,” says Craig, “Obviously with the Olympics we’ve had to compete for share of voice from an AFL perspective. Normally surveys 4 and 5 through to 6 are our strongest books for 3MMM. Everything we’ve seen from an audience perspective in the research that we’ve done and what we know about the health of the brand, is that you’ll see that bounce back really quickly. Normally survey 6 going into AFL finals is our strongest book of the year and I’d be really surprised if we don’t turn that number around.
“And look, having said that, 3MMM with an 8 share in breakfast and a 7.8 overall in survey 4, I mean, they’re extraordinary numbers for a station that targets men only essentially. We’re happy with numbers in the high 6’s to early 7’s. We’ve got a suite of shows and a product that is more than just a music radio station – it’s the strength in breakfast combined with a strong drive show, football on weekends. We’re really happy with where 3MMM is sitting. And while today’s result is a little disappointing, I think we can turn it around very quickly, we’re not concerned at all about the result.”
Duncan Campbell (right) knows he has his work cut out for him with Mix in Sydney and points to its success in Melbourne as proof that it can be brought into shape, he says, “If you looked at Mix 101.1 in Melbourne, 12 or 18 months ago we were in a very poor position but we had a very determined approach with the Melbourne market with both Mix and Gold. Now we’re going to direct our energies into Mix106.5 in Sydney. We’re very determined to ensure that that station performs significantly better than it does at the moment.”
Paul Jackson tells us, “We would always say where there is work to be done and be honest about it – and there’s some work to be done.” Having said that, you really have to pay close attention otherwise you’d miss the subtle reference to the negative among all the positives. He goes on, “But we’re well in the game and it could all turn very quickly – certainly in Sydney.
“Nova is a fantastic brand predominantly under 40’s. Its younger and fresher and sharper and edgier than our competition. It doesn’t have the same sort of heritage and a different type of listener. So when Nova does win four markets out of five under forties, with a little bit more to do in Sydney – in the overall business, I think we just sneak in winning under 40’s Nova versus Austereo’s stations across the country – so we’re happy,” says Paul.
“Essentially we play the same songs or they play the same songs as us, depending on who you’re talking to.”
Craig is also happy with a bunch more positives to reveal, “Merrick’s had his second upbook in Drive and certainly all of the research for this audience suggests that there’s even better numbers still to come. And we had a very good result in Brisbane today as well with 4MMM so we’re really pleased with the development of that show. And so too 2MMM has been a good strong consistent product and really if you look at the show in Sydney, we’re happy with all four of them. Kyle and Jack have pulled up very strongly in breakfast, which increased their lead on Amanda and Jonesy. Fifi & Jules have had an outstanding result around the country, they’re number one in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and have gone up in Brisbane – just a little behind the pack in Brisbane – but an outstanding national result for Fifi & Jules. So in terms of the quality and the strength of our show, we couldn’t be happier.”
Yet, 2Day has slipped another 0.4 overall to bring it to less than a 9.0 share. This despite Kyle and Jackie O’s Breakfast with the Stars posting a slight improvement to be 1.9 ahead of the station average. How come the disconnect between that result and that of the rest of the station?
“The disconnect is in the fact that we share a music format with NOVA,” says Craig, “Essentially we play the same songs or they play the same songs as us, depending on who you’re talking to. You have stations like The Edge, TripleJ – there’s a bunch of stations at the periphery that all chip away at that music position across the workday and it’s a much harder one to win.
“If you go back a couple of years, NOVA was an alternative pop format and we were a hit format. There was enough room for everyone and NOVA have totally gone down the path of essentially copying our music position. They’re probably four and a half across the day and our numbers have been pulled back a little as well.
But at the end of the day we’ve got very strong bookends, Drive and Breakfast. As an overall product, we’re in very good shape. it’s just a very competitive landscape from 9 to 4. Melbourne’s a bit similar as well I think you’ll find that FOX’s numbers across it are probably better than 2DAY but certainly you’ve got a very similar audience profile where Breakfast and Drive are very strong and then the numbers just fall away a bit across the day,” says Craig Bruce.
Paul Jackson agrees that competition is tough, “The standards in Sydney are very high, so you sometimes have to feel sorry for some of the stations where it doesn’t go quite so well because, genuinely the standards here are immense. We should be proud of that as an industry and we should be collectively talking that up a bit more, I think.”