FM content bosses react to unusual ratings numbers in Sydney

Former Editor & Content Director

We all know the radio ratings cliches. You’re only as good as your last survey. One book doesn’t make a trend. Everyone’s a winner depending on how you cut the numbers. But even with all this in mind, there were some unusual numbers coming out of Sydney in Survey 1. Here, Radio Today’s Vivienne Kelly talks to the FM commercial content directors to see if it’s left them scratching their heads, and what they’re going to do about it.

In the Sydney market last week, only two FM stations experienced an increased share, both of which were starting from a pretty low base.

Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) 2DayFM went from a 4.0% share to 4.2%, and the ABC’s triple j had a more significant bump, up 1.0 points from 4.7% to 5.7%. 2Day’s SCA stablemate, Triple M, remained steady on 6.1%.

The bump for triple j tends to come alongside its Janaury-based Hottest 100 Countdown. The rest, is a little more difficult to explain.

On the Australian Radio Network (ARN), KIIS fell 1.8 points to a 7.9% share, and WSFM was down 0.5 to 6.6%. Things were even more dramatic for KIIS in the demos, with the station losing 5.8 points in people aged 18 to 24, down to an 11.3% share from 17.1%, and shedding a further 4.4 points in 25 to 39s, down to 15.6%.

Breakfast was also not immune, with the seemingly untouchable Kyle & Jackie O on KIIS falling 1.5 points to 9.8%, taking them back down below the magical double digits, and Jonesy & Amanda on WSFM falling 1.7 points to 5.7%. This put the duo below Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa (down 0.8 points to 6.5%), and Triple M’s Moonman In The Morning (up 0.8 to 6.4%).

The network’s chief content officer, Duncan Campbell, however, says he’s not placing any weight on this Sydney survey, and won’t be reacting to it at all.

Campbell says this book is an anomaly 

“The book is just a strange book [in Sydney],” he tells Radio Today. “And obviously the methodology’s robust, it is statistics, and there are some anomalies which do occur, and I think it is one of those books,” he says, pointing to the ABC’s overall 3.7 point rise, 2UE’s 1.1 point climb, and 2GB’s 0.6 uplift.

“So it’s a bit of an odd book. It looks like an AM book to me, which does happen every now and then – one of those things. We’re not putting any kudos in the results… We’re not changing anything.”

He said the Kyle & Jackie O Show is stronger than ever this year – “the content’s been extraordinary” – and predicts they will continue to have a great year.

And as for Jonesy & Amanda, he says they’re “on fire” and sounding better than they have in previous years.

“Disappointing for them today, but every time WS has taken a hit, it always bounces back, and so I expect that to bounce back as well,” he says, noting the network will ramp up its marketing efforts for the duo.

NOVA Entertainment’s chief programming and marketing officer, Paul Jackson, also noted the anomalies, and even backed Campbell’s prediction that KIIS and WSFM would recover.

“I think if we’re talking about measuring shows [in Sydney], it’s pretty difficult for a lot of stations to do, to be fair, especially in Survey 1,” he says. “I think for a show like [Fitzy & Wippa] it’s probably got a stronger number than 6.5 to come, and that probably is reflective of just that January and February period. I would probably say the same to be fair for KIIS and WS as well. Going forward, you’ll see improved numbers and back to something more like the norms.”

Jackson has no concerns about Fitzy & Wippa’s share dip 

Jackson notes the streaming numbers for Nova in Sydney were high throughout the early summer period, which could have impacted the survey, and says he had no concerns about Fitzy & Wippa’s show, which will celebrate its 10 years in Breakfast in September – “We love them to bits”.

SCA’s chief content officer, Dave Cameron, meanwhile, was facing plenty of scrutiny with his revamped 2DayFM Breakfast show of The Morning Crew with Hughesy, Ed & Erin. It went up a minuscule 0.2 points to 4.4%, but as Cameron says, in a survey like this, he’ll take it.

“Yea, look, up is good, down is bad,” he jokes of the result. “There’s kind of a simple strategy sometimes,” he says.

He then backs the other CDs noting the unusual Sydney results.

“Sydney’s a strange one in that 2Day was the only [FM commercial] staton that went up, albeit only 0.2, but you know, it had some pretty wild swings away from a lot of those marquee shows in the city.”

He notes the debut of The Morning Crew with a 4.4% share may seem small, however it is the highest debut since the station lost Kyle & Jackie O.

The FM leaders went out on a 10.4% share on 2Day back in 2013. Their first show on KIIS in 2014 had 9.3%, not far off where they sit today with 9.8%. 2Day’s replacement lineup with Jules Lund, Sophie Monk, Merrick Watts and Spice Girl Mel B debuted to 3.8%. Dan & Maz to 3.0%. Rove & Sam to 2.9%. The Em Rusciano Radio Show with Harley Breen to 4.0%. That show went out with 2.8%, and its replacement, with Rusciano surrounded by Grant Denyer as well as now 2Day Breakfast co-host Ed Kavalee, kicked off with 3.4%.

So the challenge now, Cameron says, is not simply numbers – it’s awareness.

Dave Cameron: ‘Up is up’ 

“It’s getting on the radar of Sydney, and that’s going to take all of 12 months and then some just to have potential audiences even know about a new show that’s on a station. It’s a huge city, and trying to get that frequency of marketing to remind people that there’s something new, is a hell of a challenge for us, but it’s an exciting challenge. I also know that the show is right, the product’s right, they’ve kind of hit the ground running, and we need to put all our effort and energy into getting the Sydney audience to now embrace and know that it’s there.”

ARN’s Campbell concludes this book is an “anomaly” for the NSW capital, so all eyes will be on Survey 2 and 3 to see what the numbers are really saying.

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Anthony The Koala
17 Mar 2021 - 8:40 pm

There are three situations on the significance of the changes in the radio radio ratings:

(1) It’s a statistical aberration, the ratings could go back to normal. One survey may not indicate any trend.
(2) The ratings may be ‘permanent’. Is an audience drop of 1.5% (for example (KIIS) from the previous survey significant to revenue? More survey results are required.
(3) The ratings may continue to slide. More survey results are required. If there is such a trend review what the listener wants.

As the late radio programmer extraordinaire, Mr John Brennan (RIP) said is that broadcasters may have to break the convention and go outside the demographic.
Ref: at after 2 min 17 seconds.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield


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