No time to pop the champagne, says Nine’s Greg Byrnes after big radio ratings

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You might not have expected it a few months ago, when 2GB’s Ben Fordham had just handed over the station’s Sydney Breakfast Crown to Kyle and Jackie O, ending a surprise streak of 17. that the breakfast discussion program held up and relied more on that lead this time around.

The station consolidated its lead at the top of the stack, and Nine’s 3AW in Melbourne also proved once again a stronghold in the market, although beautiful for Nine Radio, success came under the cloud of lockdowns.

How confident Nine’s Radio Content Director Greg Byrnes is that the results signal a more permanent shift towards talkback, said in his closing remarks in an interview with Mumbrella.

“No champagne and the like. Obviously we can’t, but we wouldn’t anyway, because now is not the time to celebrate, ”he says.

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Ray Hadley, performing in both Sydney and Brisbane

Fordham’s share hit 18.8% this time around, nowhere near 13.5% in June and 13.3% in July, and with Ray Hadley following Fordham in the mornings, breaking 20% ​​and slowly progressing to 150 wins. consecutive.

The ongoing closures proved to be timely for the station after Byrnes said the station had to “aim higher” just two inquiries back. Polls five and six of the year were both profitable for talkback, changing habits and consumers in Melbourne and Sydney favoring news during the lockdown.

In Melbourne, breakfast couple Russel Howcroft and Ross Stevenson delivered a 23.8% share, recreating some of the resort’s big results in 2020, where the city found itself locked in again. 3AW also posted an 18.2% share.

Byrnes says 3AW has been the place to go for news for the Melbournians for a long time, and in a few big months for news in Melbourne, with protests, ongoing COVID lockdowns dominating the news, a grand interstate final of the l ‘AFL for the second year in a row and a surprise earthquake, this month was no different.

Best result of the year for Howcroft and Stevenson

“That’s where the term power plant comes from. For me, what they are doing on 3AW is quite remarkable, considering the impact it has on this city. “

To illustrate this point, Byrnes says that within an hour of the September 22 earthquake, the 3AW switchboard received 30,000 calls.

Although Howcroft and Stevenson posted the best results of the year, Byrnes says that “it’s still just a new partnership”, that the two are still getting to know each other “in so many ways” and that the prospect of what is going to happen is “very exciting”.

“They are obviously Melbourne.”

As to whether the good results will remain for 3AW beyond lockdown, which has turned out to be more the case in the Victorian capital than in Sydney, Byrnes says that is “the indication at this point.”

Earlier this year, the pair was still delivering above a 20% share in April, despite no foreclosure in the second reference period of the year.

“The blockades have had a big impact in Melbourne and people are looking to 3AW. “

Carat Group Investment Director in Melbourne Steph O’Donnell said we should expect AM to continue to have an increased stake in major demonstrations.

“An end to lockdowns won’t necessarily mean an end to frequent updates of COVID news and politics between each state that has been a cohesive narrative. Let us not forget either that a federal election is fast approaching, ”she said.

“Given the bottlenecks and behavioral changes in these markets, I expected clear trends in DAB + results. While this is the case for demos and younger GBs, the overall market is not experiencing the same high speed growth. Perhaps this highlights that while audiences turn to radio for continuous news updates, other audio content is much more fragmented with multiple devices in the home.

Cleo Lam, director of activation for Spark Foundry Australia, told Mumbrella that over the next few months it will be interesting to see Nine’s retention strategy in order to keep audiences on their network, “as life gradually returns to normal ”.

“Retaining the younger audience would be especially important for Nine Radio. “

The question will be whether ending the lockdowns will see people turn away from news and discussions, with FM stations regaining some of the lost audience.

Ben Fordham “continues to show consistency”

In Sydney, the story was no different, but if this year’s results are anything to watch, there remains more uncertainty as to whether the results will go more in the direction of 2GB as lockdowns are starting to soften today.

The 16.4% overall share for 2GB is the resort’s best since the rating system changed in 2004, Byrnes says, with this book also being Fordham’s best result to date as a host of small. -breakfast. Lam says Fordham continues to offer consistency for 2GB with this result.

Byrnes avoids going into too many details about Fordham, whose performance has come under a microscope since his longtime predecessor, Alan Jones, stepped down more than a year ago now.

“We would expect the public to come our way during the lockdown, but then we have to make sure that what we are serving is appropriate, and the numbers show that is the case.

“2GB definitely has that stronghold, and I think it shows how important talk radio is in times of uncertainty,” says Lorena Chiarella, UM Sydney business manager.

Nik Doble, Head of Trading at OMD said “tit switches to AM in locked markets is not surprising, but would treat as a circumstantial rather than an emerging trend, and would expect a gradual return to FM in future surveys ”.

In the FM space, KIIS FM’s Kyle Sandilands said last week that new state prime minister Dominic Perrottet would be banned from his and Jackie O’s show, citing his religious beliefs. When asked if there would be a similar ban on Nine’s 2 GB, Byrnes laughs and offers a firm ‘no’.

In a story similar to Melbourne’s Breakfast, when asked what could be done to make host Jim Wilson perform at similar numbers and compete for first place, Byrnes said the time was the key.

“Jim has been here 12 months and delivered his best share and best sperm. Talk radio is hard to do, and you also need to be accepted by the audience. So it takes time. “

4BC in Brisbane had its best result of the year, with a share of 7.6% in total, and Ray Hadley’s show, which also airs in Brisbane, being the second overall morning show.

With a positive result for the station last week, it also saw the airing of a new afternoon show, hosted by Sofie Formica, as well as the closing of the week with a frequency change to 882AM, designed to “give the audience a clearer picture and better listening experience”.

4BC flicked the switch and the frequency on Friday

“There’s a lot going on in Brisbane. It’s a very exciting time, and while we have an uptrend, it’s great. “

Byrnes foreshadowed a good investigation to come by speaking to Mumbrella after the last book, saying events like the AFL grand finale would create talking points, momentum and a bit of excitement for 6PR.

This was not the case, however, with the station retreating 0.5% and Byrnes saying “the news cycle has not helped Perth”.

Given that what’s happening on the east coast really dominates the national agenda, and the COVID factor in Perth is very different from Sydney and Melbourne, it sucks a lot of air off the national agenda and that makes the a difficult task for a city like Perth and a radio station like 6PR where news drives content.

With expectations for Melbourne and Sydney residents to start returning to the office for Inquiry Seven, all eyes will be watching if the talkback sticks, and then maybe Byrnes and Nine Radio can start to feel more confident about it. take out the champagne.


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