Nine confident Ben Fordham can recover from survey slump
Nine Radio is confident Ben Fordham’s dip in the radio ratings is a temporary anomaly, and strongly reminded the market he is still a clear #1.
Fordham had an 18.1% share in the first survey of 2021, up one share point from 17.1% at the end of 2020.
At the time, Nine Radio’s head of content, Greg Byrnes, said this market-leading figure would motivate Fordham to chase a 20% share.
Fordham’s relentless competitive nature, Byrnes said, would mean he wants to rival 3AW’s Breakfast show with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft, who at Survey 1 had a 22.2% share.
In Survey 2, however, Fordham took a hit, falling 2.6 points to a 15.5% share.
Its main talk-based rival, the ABC, climbed 0.5 points, putting hosts Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck on 13.2%. Should that trend continue, Fordham would be toppled as the AM leader, as well as the overall Breakfast king.
Byrnes, however, would not be rattled.
“Well, what’s to remember is that he’s still clear #1,” Byrnes told Radio Today following Survey 2.
Byrnes also noted the Breakfast show’s average in recent years under the stewardship of Alan Jones was averaging about 15%, so Fordham’s 15.5% share was still tracking well for the station.
He did concede, however, that Fordham would likely be disappointed by the dip.
“He’s a competitor, absolutely. Will they just go out and do the same thing when he’s back on air next week? Absolutely. Work harder. But that really had no bearing on what today’s result was. They’re committed. The show’s sounding great. He’s a strong #1. It’s the next generation of talk. And we’re very well placed heading into what is now Survey 3.”
Breakfast with Ross & Russel also took a slight hit in Melbourne, down 0.7 points from 22.2% to 21.5%.
Unlike Sydney, however, the show remains well ahead of the ABC, which sat on a stable 10.7% for Survey 2. Comedian Sammy J hosts the ABC program in Melbourne. The FM leader in Melbourne, Christian O’Connell, had an 8.3% share.
Byrnes said the show is evolving and getting better, all while managing to stay above the 20% share mark.
“Ross is one of a kind. And, I mean, the AM/FM thing, I mean, it’s #1 or is isn’t, really. Shouldn’t that be the case? And it is #1… by miles,” he said.
“I don’t want to get into a he said/ she said with the FMs [though]. We just need to concentrate on what we do, and that’s the strategy that we’ve announced loudly, and we’re rock solid behind.”
When it comes to Survey 3 – out on June 1 – Byrnes said Nine Radio will “just keep doing what we do”.
“Tomorrow needs to be better than today,” he said. “It’s all fairly corny, but it’s just so true. We just need to look at figures today, we all go ‘Everyone, very well done, but let’s do it all again tomorrow’.
“And that’s just the nature of this content. And we’re just trying to do each day better than the one before, and find that new and expand that new and the next talk audience.”