When Survey 6 hit yesterday, the figures coming out for Nova in Brisbane and Perth were great. The brand had regained the lead in both markets.
But the numbers for Nova and smoothfm in both Sydney and Melbourne, like the times in which we live, were unusual, if not unprecedented – and not in a good way. All four stations lost ground overall. Only Nova 100 managed a 0.9 gain in Breakfast while the others bled share points like a crime scene in Line of Duty.
With results like that, Nova Entertainment’s head of content and marketing, Paul Jackson, would, surely have to be concerned.
“The honest answer is no,” says Jackson. “If this was Survey 3, say, and these were the numbers and there were no lockdowns, with everything normal – then absolutely, you couldn’t not be concerned about these numbers. But in this moment, with Sydney and Melbourne going through huge lockdown periods, it totally reflects what’s happening in the marketplace.
“In terms of the radio we’re making, such as Fitzy and Wippa, which is all about mums and dads, in terms of family radio, when there’s no school run happening, that inherent listening isn’t in normal mode. Likewise with smooth which is all about workplace listening – and we haven’t got anyone in the workplace – that would help,” he says wryly.
The fact is that in both Sydney and Melbourne the top three stations, dominated by AM Talk, (2GB, 3AW and the ABC in both cities) command almost half the entire measured Breakfast audience between them, leaving the next dozen to fight it out for a share of what’s left.
Happily for content supremo Duncan Campbell, ARN has the leading FM stations, both overall and in Breakfast in both markets. But even at #1 Fm in Breakfast, Kyle and Jackie O on a 10.8 share trail 2GB’s Ben Fordham on 18.8 by a massive 10.0 whole share points.
The gap’s even greater in Melbourne where 3AW’s Ross and Russel, on an astonishing 23.8, lead Gold104.3’s Christian O’Connell by 14.4 share points – enough for a whole other radio station.
Of course, in normal times, both K & J and O’Connell would likely do much better and would probably remain #1 on the FM band with a shot at #1 overall, once life, as we knew it, returns.
The two FM shows are very different, in very different markets but there is a common denominator, according to Campbell, “Well, the common denominator is that; when they first came on the air, they offered something very different to what was on offer in the market. When Kyle and Jackie O came on, it was Breakfast with the Stars which includes some of the shock elements as well. And that was very different to what was on elsewhere. And when Christian came on, it was a different style of presentation – very inclusive. And that was something very different to what was on in Melbourne at the time. And they’ve captured that audience and that’s what gave Kyle and Jackie the longevity. And that’s what will give Christian that kind of longevity as well. In my view, that’s the secret ingredient – that’s the determining factor.”
Lockdown, schmockdown, not that Nine Radio and its predecessors don’t know how to lead but, clearly, Covid has helped turbocharge their ratings. On 2GB, where some pundits expected Ben Fordham to tank following the departure of Alan Jones, he and 2GB have, instead, posted record numbers.
According to Nine Radio’s content chief, Greg Byrnes, “You would go back to 2004 which is as far back as the current ratings go (to find a 2GB 10+ station share of 16.4) And Ben’s result, (18.8 for Breakfast) there’s no better.”
Byrnes insists he’s not surprised, “I know what he’s capable of, and I hear the program every day. I see how much work goes into it. He’s got a wonderful sense of the city. He’s got a wonderful rapport with people. You must remember this is probably his 12th year on air because he did Drive for 10. He has a very good understanding of the 2GB audience. Talkback can make a difference. And if you put passionate people in there, who want to make a difference, a great deal can be achieved.”
All our Survey 6 coverage: