Is this the new normal for radio?

Ratings wrap with Duncan Campbell, Mike Fitzpatrick, Paul Jackson and Gemma Fordham.

The first survey of 2016 threw up more surprises than normal. Not so much in the positioning of stations but the size and the number of large ups and downs in shifts and demographics.

Usually, a fluctuation of 0.5 either way can be described as steady – or at least til you get four or five of those trending in one direction in a row.

A 1.0 change in share is significant and 2.0 is technically described as PH* (pretty huge).

This survey threw up more than its fair share of PHs and many even greater. 

In Sydney, while Kyle and Jackie O scored a big PH with a 2.4 gain in Breakfast on KIIS, the ever reliable Ray Hadley on 2GB Mornings plummeted -4.4 yet, it must be said, still maintained first place.

Drive on KIIS also PHed with a 2.3 gain as did nights on Triple M, up 2.8.  As well as KIIS did in Breakfast and Drive, they went down significantly in Mornings and Drive while 2Day FM had PHs in those shifts despite Breakfast and Drive remaining steady.

Don’t even ask about demos. Triple M went up 5.4 in 18-24s while smooth jumped 5.8 in 25-39s.

In Melbourne, where things remain tight and station headline shares are relatively steady, the action is in the shifts. Breakfast on 774 ABC soared 2.6 while FOX fell -2.5 and 3AW -2.0. Although MAGIC 1278 dipped by “just” -1.7 it lost almost half of it’s entire Breakfast audience share.

Those working in the Brisbane market would be well advised to hang on to their metaphoric hats. Here, even the headline shares are volatile. 4MMM waxed on 2.4 to catapult it into double digits and third place overall on the back of an incredible 3.4 gain by Marto & Ed Kavalee in Breakfast. Triple M’s Mornings went up a whopping 3.9 while Nova’s fell -3.0 and 612 ABC -4.0.

Commenting on the Brisbane market where his station 97.3FM took a -1.4 broadside and managed to stay #1 by the skin of its teeth, ARN CD Duncan Campbell said, “It’s all about the trends. Triple M for example has the occasional good book if you go back historically and they usually make a big noise about it and it’s never sustained.

We took a hit and Nova also took a hit today, but I believe that Brisbane once settled will go back to being a two horse race between 97.3 and Nova.”

But Campbell admits to a definite downward trend for ARN’s MIX102.3 in Adelaide where the station, which had been a firm #1 for years was beaten into third place by Nova919 and ABC891, “To lose number one in Adelaide is disappointing. We’ll look at that result at a deeper level. There’s a trend behind that, so we’ll research that market again to find out what’s causing it.”

Triple M’s network head, Mike Fitzpatrick puts market volatility down to the fragmentation of media, “There are so many other choices for people to choose. You’ve go to still remember that radio remains the number one media facility consumed in the car and the number one consumed at work. There are other distractions but you’ve got to do a lot to grab their attention. If you’re a company without a thorough and considered digital strategy then you are going to be in trouble.”

NOVA Entertainment’s Group CD Paul Jackson ays the wild swings in Survey One are seasonal and the fact that it is not a rolling survey, “This is Survey One. It starts on January 17th. It’s very early in the year, school holidays are still on, Australia Day is happening and people are still on the beach… I think we can look back on most Survey Ones and see a little bit of this in the numbers.”

Speaking for the hit network, Gemma Fordham says, “In my opinion, we do tend to see this happen. A lot of the time it can come down to the 10-17s that can sway the overall number. It is that younger end of the demo which we know are very critical to capture with diaries and if you look, a lot of the time that’s what’s swung a result. I don’t think its solely down to that but I do think its actually the younger demo is harder and harder to reach in terms of the survey measurement and I do think that’s something that we’re contending with now.”

Whether surveys are becoming more of a rollercoaster and whatever the reason, it’s certainly good for business with Metropolitan commercial radio advertising revenue up by 12.64% in February 2016 according to CRA.

Peter Saxon

* PH is not really a technical term. I made that up.


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