Alan Jones is the undisputed king of Sydney’s radio breakfast, he’s ruled the slot for 84 consecutive surveys, but the latest round of radio ratings saw one of 2GB’s key demos taken out by FM station WSFM.
Are cracks starting to appear in Jones’ reign?
Russell Tate, executive chairman of Macquarie Radio Network which owns 2GB, does not think so.
In a conversation with B&T earlier this week, Tate dismissed Jones’ FM rivals Jonesy and Amanda because their home is a music station. On the FM band.
“They’ve been there for a long time and we’ve been here for a long time. I don’t think too much is going to change on that school,” Tate said.
“I mean, they’re essentially a music station and we’re a talk station. That’s the GB and WS thing. But they’re doing very well. Good on ’em.”
But music does strike a chord with 2GB’s key audience of 45 to 69 year olds as referenced in the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014-2018.
The report looked at the Australian live music market – worth $648m in 2013, figure predicted to grow to $656m by 2018, driven in part by Baby Boomers (who would be roughly between the ages of 50 and 68 this year). The PwC Report touched on how this generation is spending big on live music.
Earlier this year Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball tour generated roughly $25m in ticket sales in Australia alone. The ageing artist’s tour outperformed headline stealing singer Rihanna ($10.1m) and pop-darling Taylor Swift ($14.9m).
“Baby boomers are willing to pay top dollar to see their chosen acts and in 2013 this was confirmed by the vintage of artists brought to Australian shores,” the PwC study said.
“Frontier Touring for example brought Leonard Cohen and Neil Young to Australian fans. Tickets to the now-deferred 2014 Rolling Stones tour concerts were being sold for $1,549 for the Diamond VIP package, clearly targeting baby boomers with greater disposable income.”
While older radio listeners are significantly more likely to listen to talkback radio (see table below), GfK’s fourth radio survey of the year revealed that the Australian Radio Network (ARN) owned station WSFM had overtaken 2GB in its key demo of 55-64 year olds.
WSFM’s Monday to Sunday share of 55-64 year olds surged ahead by a huge 4.7 percentage points, moving from 12.6% of the demographic to 17.3%.
The jump puts WSFM as the leader of the older demographic in Sydney as 2GB fell backwards to second place, its share dropping from 20.3% to 16.4%.
The two stations target markets overlap with WSFM after all people 40-54 while 2GB chases a slightly older audience of people 45-69.
WSFM also dominates in people 40-54 where its Monday to Sunday share is 15.3%.
2GB’s share in this bracket is 6.6%.
But 2GB is the clear winner in people 65+ where it has a huge 32%, up from the previous survey’s 28.8%.
Overall, 2GB is still the clear winner.
Its Monday to Sunday share of listeners 10+ is now 12.5% after a drop from 13.2%.
In a statement 2GB said its audience share is still more than 20% ahead of its nearest competitor, WSFM. But WSFM has pushed closer overall. The FM station’s share of all people 10+ Monday to Sunday has increased from 9.2% to 10.2%. 2GB’s share also dipped slightly in breakfast and drive while WSFM’s grew.
Alan Jones’ share of Sydney’s breakfast radio audience fell from 15.1% to 14.1% as Jonesy and Amanda’s rose from 10% to 11.5%.
In drive 2GB’s share dropped from 11.7% to 9.8%. WSFM’s rose from 7.8% to 9%.
Tate admits 2GB’s book four result could have been stronger but is still (rightfully) confident. “We’re number one. Every survey could be better of course. It’s never good enough.”
Earlier this week ARN’s national content director Duncan Campbell said it was too early to talk about WSFM challenging 2GB. “2GB remain a very strong radio station with very healthy shares. If we started to see a trend we could be a little more confident,” he said. For us, it is all about making sure we dominate the FM station in Sydney with our two radio stations.”
WSFM will also have been boosted by a large-scale marketing campaign following its recent ‘Pure Gold’ rebrand.
Campbell said the growth in the 40-64 demo was a result of the rebrand and increased awareness levels as well as the station’s earlier shift shift from a “an old 70’s style classic hits station to being a more contemporary 80s style Pure Gold station”.
Only time will tell if cracks really are starting to appear in Jones’ crown. But it will be no easy feat to knock down Jones who just signed a new 22-year contract with 2GB and has ruled Sydney’s radio market for a total 97 radio surveys.