The radio stations making waves for all the wrong reasons

Listeners are still tuning into radio, despite increased competition from online. But a new survey shows how some networks are making all the right moves, while others are seeing their market share take a dive.

Radio, like many of the artists it broadcasts, is a master of reinvention. Faced with competition from streaming services and a rapid abundance of music online, radio is still finding ways to keep listeners and advertisers hooked.

Just look at radio’s incredible power when it comes to recorded music sales, especially singles. There’s no doubt that airplay still translates to impressive sales. But radio talent also has a huge impact on network performance. A new survey points to the stations that are getting it right, and those that are getting it so very wrong – and that will have a big impact on advertising revenue.

The first survey data of 2014 has just been released for Sydney, the largest and most important market in the country when it comes to radio. As the first survey undertaken by new provider Gfk, the data gives valuable insight into how recent talent shuffling is working out for the networks.

There were huge movements in radio talent over the summer: Kyle and Jackie O left Austereo’s 2Day brand for ARN’s newly rebadged Kiis, with Merrick Watts, Jules Lund, Sophie Monk and Mel B taking their place. Nova debuted a new drive-time team debuted, Austereo’s Triple M launched a new drive, and in Melbourne, Nova lost Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek, but replaced them with Meshel Laurie and Tommy Little. Over at Austereo, Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley were replaced by Fifi Box and Dave Thornton.

As it turns out, the latest survey shows just how big an impact these movements had on network performance.

Without a doubt, Austereo is the biggest loser, with 2DayFM already losing more than 50% of its audience. Its share of listeners across the market from 5:30am to midnight has plunged from 8.7 per cent to 4.5 per cent. The network has lost ground in every slot, with its breakfast show -- which previously held the top spot – now coming in last place, falling from 10.4 per cent to 3.8 per cent. Declines across other slots were less severe, but worrying nonetheless: Mornings have dropped from 7.8 per cent to 3.8 per cent, afternoons from 8.7 per cent to 4.5 per cent, drive from 8.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent, and evenings from 5.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent. 2Day has managed to move from the number one overall FM station to be last placed of those surveyed.

Triple M is another loser, with its market share dropping from 5.7 per cent share to 4.8 per cent.

The new top dog in FM radio in Sydney is KiisFM -- fuelled by the success of former 2Day mainstays Kyle and Jackie O. Their breakfast slot has given Kiis and ARN a 60 per cent bump, with their “all people share” across the day lifting from 5 per cent to 8.4 per cent. In the breakfast slot, Kyle and Jackie O have delivered close to a 200 per cent increase in listeners. Between Kiis and WSFM, ARN has achieved a share gain of over 5 per cent of total listeners, with Kiis receiving significant share increases across all-day segments and demographics. Kiis is also ranked number one in the 25-39 age bracket, while WSFM is ranked number one in the 40-54 bracket. This is nothing short of a triumph for ARN.

Nova Entertainment Group hasn’t fared too badly of late either: SmoothFM continues to build its market share and now boasts a 7.1 per cent share across all people, over 60 per cent more than 2DayFM. This sees it edge close to Nova’s 7.5 per cent all people share. Nova continues to dominate in the 18-24 age bracket, with a massive 20.6 per cent share, and is a strong number two in the 25-39 bracket, with 14 per cent. This puts it achingly close to Kiis’s 14.3 per cent. And Smooth is proving it’s not just for the 40 listeners, it’s also competing strongly in the 25-39 demographic, with an 8 per cent share that’s growing rapidly.

When Sandilands and Jackie O left Austereo, content chief Guy Dobson said: “It wasn’t 1995 anymore, it’s 2014 and unfortunately that show didn’t move on”. From these results it looks like the only thing that’s moved on is 2DayFm’s audience in Sydney.

Like in television, radio listener share effectively translates to advertising share. These results are a strong indication that we will likely see continued increases in advertising revenue across both Nova Entertainment Group and ARN at the expense of Austereo, at the very least within the Sydney market.