The first Australian metro radio survey in five months was released yesterday: after being put on hold due to COVID, it is exciting to see the trends that have developed. The last survey, Survey 2, covered both pre and mid-COVID periods. Being the first survey to be entirely within the COVID-19 pandemic, Survey 6 provides important insight in what we can expect to see in the coming months.

Radio Audiences Holding Steady During COVID-19

Survey 6 shows that radio audiences are holding steady, with the number of listeners being almost identical to Survey 2 across all markets and all demographics, with a drop of less than 1% overall. There was also a decline of just 1% in radio audiences in the key demographics of 25-54 compared to Survey 2. When comparing Survey 6 to Survey 1, the last survey that was wholly pre-pandemic, we see a decline in audience numbers of just 0.8% overall, showing that radio is holding steady.

We explored the other key takeaways from the survey, broken down by market.

2GB Holds on to Number 1 Spot in Sydney, even After Major Changes

Following the resignation of long-time leading broadcaster Alan Jones in May, 2GB’s replacement for the breakfast slot Ben Fordham held on to the top spot for that day part, with 17.3 share points. This represents a slight drop from Jones’ 17.9 share points in Survey 2, but kept 2GB in the lead for the breakfast slot, ahead of KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O who held steady at 10.2.

2GB saw a small drop in audience share for all day parts Monday to Sunday, from 14.8 share points in the last survey to 14.2, probably due to the decline in their breakfast audience. This fall was a little more pronounced in weekday audience share, with a drop of 1.1% from 15.4 to 14.3 share points. However, they remained the top station overall in the Sydney market, far ahead of closest commercial competitors Smooth FM and KIIS FM, leading in all day parts except for afternoon and drive.

Smooth FM remained the top FM station with 9.9 share points for all day parts Monday to Sunday, increasing their lead over WSFM at 8.4 and KIIS FM at 8.2 share points. They also took the number one FM spot for all day parts Monday to Friday with 9.7 share points, overtaking both WFSM and KIIS FM since the last survey.

Radio Audiences Drop Slightly in Melbourne

The slight overall reduction in radio audiences across Australia was driven mostly by the Melbourne market, with a drop in audiences in that market of a little under 2%. This doubtless reflects the Melbourne lockdown: the survey covers the period from July 26 to September 19, with Melbourne entering Stage 4 restrictions on August 2.

Across the Melbourne market there was an increase in listeners in the morning day parts, as audiences look to keep up with the latest news and talk. Similarly, 3AW increased their lead as the number one station in Melbourne, with 16.9 share points across all day parts Monday to Sunday, an increase of 3%. 3AW led every day part, including gaining 8.8 share points in the breakfast slot to achieve 26.1, eclipsing commercial competitors Gold FM with 7.2 and Triple M at 6.7 share points.

This is part of a larger trend of growth in talk back radio audiences. Nine’s Radio Talk stations across Australia saw a 10% growth in their audience overall, with a 32% growth in listeners aged between 40 and 54.

The strongest performers on Melbourne’s FM band were Gold FM with a 8.7% share overall and Smooth FM with 7.5%.

Nova Takes the Number Spot in Brisbane

Nova 106.9FM took the top spot for Brisbane, increasing 1.1% to surpass close competitors Hit 105 and 97.3FM with a market share of 11.5. The Brisbane market remains highly competitive, with Triple M and 97.3FM both close behind at 10.5 share points, and Hit 105 at 10.4 points.

Nova led the breakfast slot with 12.2 share points, as well as drive and weekends. Triple M led the morning slot with 11.6 share points, barely ahead of 97.3FM and 4KQ, both with a share of 11.5. Afternoons were dominated by Triple M with 13.5% of the audience share.

Mix 102.3 Solidifies its Lead in Adelaide

Mix 102.3 increased their lead in Adelaide, going up 1.1 share points to 13.0. The top AM station was FIVEaa, with 12.2 share points overall, and the biggest audience share during breakfast at 15.4 share points.

Mix 102.3 tied with FIVEaa for the morning slot, both with 13.7 share points, while Mix led the afternoon, drive and weekend time slots. Nova 91.9 had the largest audience share in the evening with 11.9 share points, an increase in 1.0% since Survey 2.

The Perth Market Remains Hotly Contested

Perth was another tightly contested market, with Nova 93.7FM leading the market with 12.9 share points, followed by Mix 94.5FM at 12.7 and 96FM with 12.6 share points. However, Mix maintained the top spot for all day parts Monday to Friday.

Nova took the top spot for breakfast, drive and weekends, while 96FM led in the morning and afternoon time slots.

We hope you, your business and your family are doing well during these challenging times, and wish you well as we start to wrap up 2020.

Keep checking back for more updates and analysis of Australian media markets and what’s happening with commercial radio around the country.

Source: GFK Survey 6, 2020

Angie Smith

About Angie Smith

Angela started the company in 2007 after working in various media including radio, Yellow Pages as well as on the advertising agency side. She has a passion for media planning across channels, strategy, development and negotiation and really loves working with clients in growing their businesses and brands. She has worked with many brands large and small including local, national and multi-nationals. Angie’s pastimes include travel, food, entertaining.