FM Radios’ battle for Drive supremacy

For most successful stations it is the talent on the Breakfast show that commands the largest audience. 

While that’s true within each market, on the FM networks that run a national Drive show, the talent is heard by a much wider audience.

In the latest Survey (3) the #1 national Drive show, Nova’s Kate, Tim & Marty attracted over 1.5 million listeners a week across the five main metro markets.

Officially, the Drive shift is measured in GfK surveys as the period between 4pm – 7pm, yet not one of the FM networked Drive shows in our table below conform to those times. All except the HIT Network’s Drive shift is on-air between 4pm – 6pm. 

That network, HIT, has in effect, two Drive shows starting at 3pm with Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little til 4:30pm followed by Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek who finish at 6:30. Then it’s Ash London who takes listeners into the Evening. It’s a formidable combination – both in the quality of talent and in the strategic way in which it is deployed. 

Rather than pit Carrie, Tommy, Hughesy and Kate together in one two hour show they’ve been split into two quality shows spanning four hours, starting an hour earlier and going half an hour deeper into the official Drive time slot. And the last half hour is handed over to Ash London who’s established herself as a major talent in Evenings.

The upshot is that instead of HIT Drive falling in a heap, as many had predicted since the departure of Hamish & Andy, it’s a hair’s breadth away from toppling Nova’s long time national leaders Kate, Tim and Marty.

“Hughesy and Kate are number 2 nationally and have had the 4th book in a row trending up and increasing our cume,” says Gemma Fordham, HIT Network Content Director. “The gap is so narrow now between 1 & 2.”

What’s more,  “Carrie & Tommy are number 1 nationally in their time slot (3pm to 4:30). Both our shows are performing exceptionally well and are a hit for us not just with ratings but also with revenue. The numbers today are massive and deserving!” says Ms Fordham.

Nova’s content chief Paul Jackson concedes that his #1 drive show is under threat and sheets home the problem to Melbourne which has a ‘home ground’ advantage for Hughesy and Kate.

“In Melbourne there’s a huge gap, 8.5 (us) plays 13.3 (them), says Mr Jackson. “It’s that one market that makes the overall number a bit closer. We do significantly better in other areas. But, certainly, taking on Hughesy & Kate in Drive time in Melbourne is proving tough and they’re doing very well and it’s a credit to them. 

“That notwithstanding, to win overall, nationally is important to us,” says Mr Jackson.

They’re not the only ones. Waiting in the wings, not far behind, is Triple M’s Kennedy Molloy and the KIIS networks Will & Woody.

Game On!


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