ARN’s Duncan Campbell on survey 7: ‘We obviously saw COVID really impact this book, particularly with 2GB’
Radio ratings survey seven for 2021 was yet again a positive one for ARN network’s flagship breakfast shows, with Melbourne and Adelaide holding the #1 FM stations and ARN’s duopoly continuing to dominate in Sydney with KIIS 1065’s Kyle & Jackie O and WSFM’s Jonesy & Amanda the #1 FM and #2 FM breakfast shows and stations.
“Our ability to meaningfully connect with the hearts and minds of our audiences right across the nation is again reflected clearly in the survey seven results today which highlight the power of ARN,” ARN national director of content, Duncan Campbell says.
“We obviously saw COVID really impact this book, particularly with 2GB going up a full point in Sydney. Kyle & Jackie O remained much the same, just a slight drop. Jonsey & Amanda were down slightly, too, but still a really strong breakfast result for them as well.”
In Sydney, KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O saw a slight drop in audience share, with a bump of 0.1 points to a 10.7% share.
WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda saw a considerable drop in audience share, with a 0.9 percentage point bump to a 7.9% share. Last survey the radio duo had a share of 8.8%.
Campbell admits: “More importantly, WS and KIIS both remain very strong in the market, WS is still the #1 FM station in Sydney just in front of KIIS, and SmoothFm very closely behind. It’s very tight between the three stations in FM in Sydney. I think we have weathered the COVID storm very well in Sydney, for both stations. We have no concerns for our Sydney stations at all.”
The clear winner this book, however, was Nine’s 2GB. Host Ben Fordham kept the title of the #1 breakfast show in Sydney, with a significant swing towards the talk radio host and away from Kyle and Jackie O, with the station recording a one percentage point increase in breakfast share, rising to 19.8%.
“It was a great decision to put him on breakfast. He’s done very well. Obviously, COVID does help, and the news around the new NSW premier, it was a very newsworthy survey, but that certainly doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s contributed to these very healthy figures, and coming too close to 20% is not to be sneezed at. I can imagine he would be very happy today with these results,” Campbell notes.
“I think Fordham’s numbers may soften in time, though, once COVID washes out, but will still remain a very strong breakfast show. Very different from Alan Jones, but there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s carving his own mark in breakfast, so I’m happy for him, hats off to him,” he adds.
When we probe Campbell on whether he thinks we’ll see Alan Jones appear back on radio after making the decision to not return to Sky News Australia next year, he admits: “I don’t think you’ll see Alan back on 2GB with Ben Fordham, I don’t think you’ll see Alan on breakfast radio at all to be honest.
“Where he appears next I’m not too sure. The thing about media, if you don’t reappear fairly quickly, you tend to be forgotten, so I think that’s possibly a risk there for him. Not sure what his plans are, but he’s got nothing to prove either. The success that he had on 2GB was extraordinary the many years he was there. If I were Alan, I’d probably just quietly enjoy my retirement,” says Campbell.
In Melbourne, ARN’s Gold 104.3 FM performed well yet again as the leader of the FM pack, despite a stagnant showing, maintained a strong 10.9% overall share, which lands the station a very close third behind the ABC which dropped 0.8 points to a 11.2% share.
It was the fifteenth consecutive survey for Gold as the station celebrated its 30th birthday and #1FM breakfast for Gold’s The Christian O’Connell Show, his 12th consecutive survey as #1FM.
“Gold always pulls in good ratings but not necessarily great ratings. But then we introduced Christian O’Connell into that breakfast show, it is very different to what we’ve heard in Australia radio for a long time,” Campbell says. “We are used to hearing duos or teams of people, but to have a single person with sidekicks is very different. I think the success of the show has come from the fresh approach to breakfast in Melbourne. Also, the fact that he’s so inclusive with the audience and they get very much involved in that show. He invites you in, and shares a lot of his life with his listeners, so you get to know him quickly.”
“The only feedback we got from focus groups was that the show feels like it’s very personal and very intimate. We had comments from people saying they’d be driving to work and felt like he was sitting right next to them, or they’d said it was nice to wake up with someone that they feel like they know, like a friend. So, I think that’s why he took off as quickly as he did. He’s highly passionate about the show.
“The music is obviously the key. I think the key components of the key elements which are great talent, formats, marketing and music are key components to the success of Gold and it being the dominant station in FM,” he notes.
Hatched managing partner, Stephen Fisher, explains: “Clearly Nine is doing quite a lot of things right across 2GB and 3AW at the moment. The breakfast shows in both markets are absolutely humming, especially after a bit of a bump in the road earlier in the year for Ben Fordham; audiences are definitely backing the show now.”
iProspect national head of investment, Ken Lam, comments on the markets: “Nine’s 2GB and 3AW continue to grow audience share in the key People 25-54 demo, and in particularly with Ben Fordham in the Sydney Breakfast slot going from strength to strength.”
In Brisbane, Nova 106.9 once again topped Brisbane’s radio ratings with 11.5% of people 10+, although the station had a minor 0.2 percentage point drop from the last survey.
Coming in second was ARN’s 4KQ, with 11.3% of people 10+ and a 0.4 point increase for the station. In breakfast, 4KQ’s Laurel, Gary & Mark stayed the same, at 12%, which was an increase of 0.9 points from Survey 5.
Nine’s 4BC’s breakfast with Neil Breen, which switched frequencies from 1116 to 882, had one of the larger increases for this survey, with a 1.2 point increase to 9.3%. It was also the largest change in the breakfast timeslot.
Hatched’s Fisher adds: “Further afield, trying to predict which way the Brisbane ratings will land survey to survey is like picking Powerball numbers – a complete guess. But in a notoriously fickle market, ARN had a great result with 97.3FM up across every day part.”
In Adelaide, Nova’s FIVEaa grew its audience by 1.7 percentage points to land on a 10% overall share, sitting between Cruise1323 on 10.1% and Nova on 9.9%.
Talkback did lead the breakfast slot, following Clarke was FIVEaa’s David Penberthy and Will Goodings, who reversed survey six’s result exactly, making up the 2.4% dip, to return to a 13.6% share.
“There are two stations that in this book did really well for us, Cruise in Adelaide and KQ in Brisbane. A lot of that has to do with content, it’s really a content play here. Also, you don’t just listen to them via a muddy AM transmitter, you can also listen to them online,” Campbell explains. “Those platforms have really helped formats sound much better on these digital platforms. I think COVID has really helped those commercial AM stations like FIVEaa and Cruise who had a great result in Adelaide in this book. Music is really their main driver, as well as KQ, and they’ve all done exceptionally well.”
Campbell adds: “ In Brisbane we lost one AM music station, so there was an audience benefit there. But, certainly KQ has been climbing constantly over the years, as has Cruise. The two AM stations’ success is definitely the format, and the fact that we can now listen to them on platforms that are much better quality and have a crisp sound.”
As for where to next for the ARN network, Campbell admits he doesn’t see much changing in the industry next survey, however, is excited to see what 2022 will bring for radio.
“I think in survey eight we’ll see AM shows return back to a more normal audience share. I don’t expect much change for us, but for Nova and SCA, I think you’ll see a return to some level of normality. Although, I think SCA has some structural problems they have to overcome, and a few challenges that they have to tackle. How well they do that, depends on how well they recover.
“Nova I think will come back, they’re a strong network, and Smooth is a strong station, too. I don’t think we’ll see too many major changes next book, but certainly 2022 will be an interesting year,” Campbell concludes.
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