Melbourne is the new FM battleground

Four stations share a 6.9 share

Peter Saxon gathers the thoughts of Duncan Campbell, Paul Jackson and Craig Bruce.

It’s a curious thing. Up until now, Sydney was the frontline of radio wars in Australia. Not that it’s without some skirmishes. But following the major upheaval of Kyle and Jackie O defecting to KIIS it all seems to have settled down. K & J have taken most of it’s listeners with them from 2Day-FM TO KIIS, leaving the former with the audience share that Mix 106.5 used to have – which is not much.

Apart from that, little has changed in Sydney… other than WSFM finally achieving number one FM status on the back of Jonesy and Amanda. 2GB is still number one while its direct competitor, 2UE, is still struggling, and, by the looks oif it , will be for some time.

Both Triple M and Nova are yet to achieve the critical mass to propel them to double digits while smoothfm doesn’t need to perform any better than it already is in order to pay its own way. The ABC, will continue to run its own race and remain pretty much where it is now for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, Melbourne, after three surveys remains in a state of flux. While things look stable at the top: with only 3AW and ABC774 in double digits, beneath them stations seem founded on shifting sands.

In third place overall GOLD FM is ahead of the pack on a 8.8 share … for now.

While Mix 101.1 takes up 4th place on a 7.1 share, the next four stations, are just a smidgen behind on 6.9 each. That’s Triple M, Nova 100, Fox FM and smoothfm all sharing 5th place on 6.9 per cent of the available audience 10+, Mon – Sun 5:30 – Midnight.

Yet all these stations are experiencing relatively high cumes compared to their average which suggests that listeners are still sampling them and have yet to decide on their favourites.

“I think the Melbourne market is still volatile,” says ARN’s Duncan Campbell. “I think there is still churn going on there.”

SCA’s Craig Bruce agrees, “You can throw a blanket over 6 or 7 fm radio stations in Melbourne at the moment.”

If nothing else, that intense competition is good for radio.

Nova Entertainment’s Paul Jackson says, “Four stations being on 6.9 in Melbourne speaks volumes for the marketplace: that is not just extremely active but one of the most exciting – and has one of the highest standards, probably in the world.

“There are six radio stations here, all of which are very good. And it’s anybody’s game. I think that is fantastic.” High praise indeed from a programmer of Jackson’s international experience.

To give a clue as to why the Melbourne market is so tight, Craig Bruce says, “I think Fox and Nova are probably going through the same challenge: which is we both let go of really successful heritage shows at the end of last year and as much as it sounds like it’s spin, Breakfast shows take time to find its audience.

“At the moment we have an audience, we just don’t have a fan base and the fan base grows over time,” says Bruce.

Jackson revels in the closeness of the competition between the networks, “In a nutshell that sums up the radio industry in Australia right now,” he says. “And if you’re involved in it, it’s a very exciting place to be. And in turn people are talking about it more than ever.

“That cuts through to our advertisers  who should be reaping some serious rewards because radio listening and radio listeners have never been so engaged.”

See the survey results here and our analysis here. Spin Cycle here.

Melbourne photo: shutterstock 

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