Comment from Peter Saxon
Inarguably, the ABC is Australia’s strongest radio brand.
It’s also the most polarising. Which is a big part of its success. People either love it or hate it, few are ambivalent.
While ambivalence is the kiss of death for a brand, longevity is a blessing. The “youth” branch of the ABC, triple j, is already 42 years old – launched as Double J in 1975 on AM and as triple j in 1980 on FM.
triple j is a very different station to its youth FM counterparts in commercial radio. It breaks new music and has a political stance that, while polarising, attracts enough supporters to have returned consistent ratings results over several decades. It has somehow solved the perennial conundrem for most youth stations which is how to stay relevant to your current core youth listeners as they age while attracting younger ones.
Traditionally, though, ratings have been seasonal. In summer months with major promotions including the Hottest 100 and One Night Stand, triple j tends to rise. In winter surveys it tends to fall.
“I never really got to the bottom of the mystery of survey 4 and 5 for us,” says ABC Head of Radio, Michael Mason. “As a rule we tend to have a drop off. And sometimes it’s a mix of school holidays in different states and the shorter days… people just being busy, getting on with life and having time to engage with the sort of radio that we do.”
Yet in the latest Survey, 4 of 2017, adding up the plusses and minuses for triple j in the five metro markets, the brand rose by 2.2 in share overall. triple j went up in every city except Perth where it shed just -0.3. Its biggest gain was in Melbourne where it was up +0.9.
The blinder of a result prompted triple j Content Director Ollie Wards to say, “This is a great ratings survey for triple j. Despite the winter months traditionally being a period of lower scores, we’ve gone up in our core 18-24 demographic in 4 out of 5 cities. We’ve also seen our new programs make gains beyond expectations, with Melbourne in particular being a good result to have breakfast up nearly a share point. Importantly, people are on average listening to triple j.”
Mr Mason believes that the cumulative effect of a number of triple initiatives has had an affect on Survey 4. “I just think that maybe this time when you look at the range of coverage that we bring back to our audiences: The Australian politics, international politics, issues and events around the community. And I think for all of our networks that work really hard to make every bit of the content that they do stimulate the audience. If you look at Sydney alone with the War on Waste coverage and a whole range of stuff that they’ve been doing. I think that all helps engage audiences and cut through the everyday.”