Nine & its rivals weigh in on Ben Fordham’s Breakfast decline

Former Editor & Content Director

One year into Ben Fordham’s tenure at the helm of Nine Radio’s 2GB, some say cracks are starting to appear.

The show had a 13.5% share in yesterday’s ratings, alarmingly close to the ABC’s 13.1%, as well as KIIS FM’s 12.9%.

Fordham was given room to breathe when he took over from Alan Jones last year, inheriting the hot seat at a time that radio ratings were paused due to COVID-19.

By the time Survey 6 rolled around, the show had a 17.3% share, still clearly #1 and only very slightly down on Jones’ final outing of 17.9%.

He got as high as 18.1% in Survey 1 this year, with Nine Radio’s head of content Greg Byrnes saying at the time that Fordham would now be chasing upwards of a 20% share.

That now seems someway off, however, with Fordham down to 13.5% and also at risk of losing the claim to #1.

Nine Radio is the first to hit out at the AM/ FM divide perpetuated by the media, and frequently rallies for its station and its show to be correctly called #1, with Kyle & Jackie O the #2 program, rather than its preferred label of ‘#1 FM show’.

What happens then, if Kyle & Jackie O from KIIS FM, or Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck from ABC, snatch the #1 crown? Would Nine still feel the same?

Byrnes won’t be rattled by this week’s figures. Instead, he said, Fordham is still #1 only a year in to one of the most competitive radio gigs in the country.

“So, 2GB #1 overall. #1 Breakfast. #1 Mornings. Nights. Weekends. Overnights…. It’s 12 months today since Ben started… and at the time we thought anything above a 12 wold be good, and for him to be above that – and having 12 months of being clear #1 in a very tight market – we’re very well placed,” Byrnes said in response to questions about whether there were concerns about Fordham’s downwards trajectory.

One man who could stand to benefit from Fordham’s fall – if only for the spectacular headlines – is ARN’s chief content officer Duncan Campbell.

With The Kyle & Jackie O Show recording its highest ever share this survey, Campbell conceded he was happy it happened on his watch and at KIIS.

“They’re very happy indeed. It’s a great result and it’s a testament to the team that supports them as well – the machine as I call it – that work behind the scenes on that show, and of course two of the best radio presenters in the world with Kyle and Jackie O. So a great day for them and a good day for us as well,” he said.

As for whether the program has the potential to knock Fordham off his perch, Campbell said anything’s possible.

“Well, life is strange… And so in the words of Sean Connery, ‘Never say never’…. I think 2GB’s book is one of those sort of down books, but there’s no trend there, really. So we’ll wait and see. But it does put them fairly close… It’s probably the closest they’ve been for a while.

“It would be nice if it did happen, I think, but I think Ben Fordham is doing a tremendous job anyway at 2GB. It’s a good rivalry to have. But time till tell.”

Someone who is less effusive about Fordham’s ability behind the microphone is 2SM’s Breakfast host Marcus Paul.

2SM doesn’t participate in the ratings, but that didn’t stop Paul from having a dig.

“Well, our program continues to grow each week while old mate TV talking head has lost more than a third of his audience in 1 year,” Paul said on his show’s Facebook page. “All those bus back adds [sic] and digital marketing and billboards cant hide “fakeness”. His show is about to be overtaken by the ABC while his colleagues in the afternoon have lost half of their listeners.

“Happy 1st Anniversary Ben.”

Paul did concede that if he did participate in the ratings, his share would be lower than Fordham’s “However hes been at it 15 plus years on a station with Jones and Hadley – ive been on 12 months [sic]“.

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3 Jun 2021 - 9:19 am

“ one of the most competitive radio gigs in the country “ you’ve got to be joking, there’s no 65+ talk competition for 2GB except the silly old ABC. With spin like that Byrnes ought to work at SCA.

Marcus Paul
3 Jun 2021 - 10:08 am

In fairness / context. You did leave out the premise of my cheeky comments.
I made them in relation to a free hit Ben had about me in The Australian newspaper without me having the opportunity to respond.
In any case im just trying to stir things up and I guess it comes across as arrogant.
Just to be clear I do respect Ben, his team and all of my colleagues in talk. They have been around a lot longer than me. Its a tough gig but I do love being competitive and i think we are wirh far less resources and zero marketing.
For those who ask why 2SM isn’t in the Sydney book … The answer is simple. Our programs are network shows (mine included). I do a NSW breakfast show, Lawsy and Talking Sport national shows and our owner makes his revenue in the regions. Cheers.

3 Jun 2021 - 12:09 pm

It would be interesting if 2SM were in the Sydney radio ratings because Marcus Paul would struggle to rate 1%

3 Jun 2021 - 12:47 pm

I think youd find it might he a fair bit higher than that Bec given his massive reach on social media for a start. Are you sure you dont work for 9?

I think its refreshing seeing someone doing talk differently. Beats the same old old man yells at cloud style weve heard for years

3 Jun 2021 - 1:03 pm

Lauren, what do you think Marcus Paul would rate in Sydney then?

3 Jun 2021 - 2:14 pm

Ouch Bec!

3 Jun 2021 - 3:01 pm

I reckon Marcus Paul would rate about 1.2% in Sydney

4 Jun 2021 - 8:43 am

Nothing against Ben, nice guy, but these Nine TV Execs going on about getting a younger audience, they’ll them they are dreaming. The vast majority of 2GB’s audience are 65+ and probably most are over 70. Nothing wrong with old people but they done spend much money, so potential advertising clients is limited. GB’s audience will continue to age, it’s AM radio which in America now is only used for religious nuts.
But good luck Ben and the boys from Nine TV.

Marcus Paul
4 Jun 2021 - 11:06 am

Hey Truth … You may well be right. It would be a good platform from which to build on.
What we do know is our show has some 110K cume on-line from streaming alone as we can measure that quite accurately. Thats before digital and terrestrial listening in Sydney and the other markets the show goes to.
We also reach on average 950K-1M every 28 days on Facebook and our podcast downloads are in the thousands.
So as were in it for the long haul and building an audience from the ground up ill take your 1.2% . Honestly im just so stoked and happy to do what I do everyday. Radio is still the best job in the world.

4 Jun 2021 - 12:29 pm

Marcus, I think your show would rate a lot less than 1.2% but why don’t you stop hiding like a coward and allow your show to be surveyed in Sydney because that is the only way we will ever really know

5 Jun 2021 - 9:28 am

It’s a shame that Marcus Paul really does not offer an alternative to Ben Fordham. They are both lefties and both are lazy researchers. Marcus Paul can be even more against conservative values than Fordham. Alan Jones is mssed.

This ridiculous situation where people listening to 2SM are not accounted for makes the ratings inaccurate.

5 Jun 2021 - 9:34 am

Re Bill’s comment. Not sure about old people not spending much money. Do young people have much money to spend?

Martin Oz
21 Jul 2021 - 5:59 am

Ben Fordham was never going to hold No1 spot on breakfast radio especially on 2GB.
He’s style of presentation is vastly different to the expectations of the conservative audience which presenters like Jones built over decades.
People who listen to 2GB are not interested in Ben Fordham Caps or Mugs, seriously I’m not sure the marketing people or Fordham himself understand who their target audience actually are because if they did, they would understand the audience don’t like self promoting pomposity.
The only thing 9 can do now, is watch the ratings slip away to the likes of FM shows.
Once Hadley has had enough, the whole thing will disintegrate.
If Jones decides he wants to start a new gig on breakfast radio, he could single handedly dismantle what’s left of 2GB.
It’s unfortunate that real talk back has fallen so far and there is no alternative in the market.
ABC or 2SM just doesn’t cut the mustard.


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