Media buyers predict a slow start and fickle ratings for new radio programs

With eight new breakfast radio shows kicking off in 2021 across the five metro markets, listeners will soon have a chance to check out several new offerings when the first radio ratings period of 2021 begins next week.

But whether new shows from Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Australian Radio Network (ARN) and Nine Radio will be able to take ratings share from more established shows around the country is another question entirely.

When the first radio ratings period for the year kicks off next week, it won’t only be listeners checking out what’s on offer.

Media buyers will be watching and listening with interest, and taking close note of the first few ratings surveys of the year.

2Day FM is having another crack at a talent-driven breakfast show with Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes, Ed Kavalee and Erin Molan. Triple M Melbourne has farewelled Eddie McGuire and welcomes Marty Sheargold.

There’s a brand new Triple M radio station in Perth with a breakfast show headed up by Basil Zempilas, who departed 6PR at the end of last year. His replacement on 6PR is Gareth Parker. And that’s just to name a handful of new shows this year.

That’s Nine Radio’s only new breakfast show for the year, while ARN also has one new brekky offering; Erin Phillips and Soda on Adelaide’s Mix 102.3.

The most dominant shows in Australian radio history have been able to develop deeply entrenched listening patterns and great attribution, so it’s unlikely we’ll see big shake-ups in the first couple of ratings surveys of the year.

Nunn Media managing director Chris Walton told Mumbrella he hasn’t felt a great deal of communication about changes to shows, aside perhaps for 2Day FM trying a new breakfast show.

“What I can say is that I just hope that all of these new shows are given adequate time to prove themselves and that expectations have been set accordingly,” he said.

He said that buyers will be taking a longer look over the coming months to see whether any trends start to emerge. It will undoubtedly take time to disrupt habitually listening on stations like those on the Nova Network, where Nova Entertainment have made zero changes to breakfast this year.

“Radio listening is very habitual, especially at breakfast and drive, so to expect a new show to immediately start taking big chunks of audience from established competitors is not realistic,” Walton added.

They say it takes three surveys to spot a trend, so no matter what survey one of 2021 shows, it’ll be a case of waiting for a few books before making any decisions.

Zenith Media’s Megan Kay isn’t ruling out changes, and told Mumbrella she’s expecting an “unpredictable” year of ratings.

“…due to programming changes, we are recommending our clients to focus on the strength of creative ideas and station integration,” she said.

Kay also flagged that any new lineups will have to deliver on strong brand integrations and experiences if they want to catch the eye of media buyers in 2021.

Consumers will be testing and trialling the new shows and likely to switch stations – or worse, switch off – during commercial breaks whilst deciding which shows are best for them.

“Holding the audience captive with compelling creative or engaging brand integrations and experiences will be more important than ever to help offset any audience fluctuations.”

Check out Mumbrella’s in-depth preview of all the new shows debuting on metro commercial breakfast radio in 2021 here.


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