Radio companies continue to succeed in parallel worlds, with NZME finding audience gains for its flagship talk station Newstalk ZB and MediaWorks surging ahead on the big music brands.

The latest GfK ratings survey, to mid-last month, shows Newstalk ZB bouncing out of an audience dip from earlier in the year, solidifying its share at the top of commercial radio nationwide and in the important Auckland market.


Newstalk leads share of the listening audience nationally (10.9 up from 9.9 two months ago), ahead of MediaWorks’ More FM (8.8 from 8.4), Breeze (8.0, from 8.2), The Sound (7.8 from 7.4) and NZME’s Coast, flat on 7.0. MediaWorks’ struggling talk offering, RadioLive, saw its nationwide share fall again to 2.9 from 3.2.

But on another measure used by GfK, the weekly nationwide cumulative reach of a station, the biggest radio station in the country is MediaWorks’ The Edge, with 621,000 listeners (down from 640,000), More (up well to 566,000 from 543,000), Breeze (551,000, from 580,000) and Newstalk ZB (505,000 from 488,900).

Radio ratings matter because they drive the level of revenues coming into broadcasters from advertisers. MediaWorks radio has been a revenue powerhouse, while NZME had to implement a company-wide effort to improve radio performance in the past two years. It’s revenues slipped four percent in 2017 over the past year.

Nationwide the leading radio shows are Newstalk’s the Mike Hosking Breakfast, which hit 13.9 share, from 13.2, with More FM’s Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick second on 10.7 (from 9.8). The Radio Live radio and television simulcast of the AM Show was stable back on 4.2.  At drivetime, More FM’s new Jay Jay Feeney and Jason Gunn evening show (9.0, from 8.4) widened its lead over NewstalkZB’s Larry Williams (7.4, down from 7.8). 


In Auckland, Newstalk restored order to its rating share by improving from 11.0 to 13.1 – closer to its long run position of dominance, but the strong performance last survey of MediaWorks’ Mai FM (10.6, up from10.2) continued to stand out for observers not used to seeing a music station push further into double figures in that position.

The leading individual shows remained Hosking’s Breakfast, which reversed last survey’s drop to score a 16.7 share in the morning (from 15.4), now four share points clear of the stable Mai FM (12.7, from 12.6) and in the drive slot, Mai FM pushed ahead to a 13.1 share from 12.7, shading Williams’ programme further as it dropped from 10.1 to 9.6 share, while More FM’s Feeney and Gunn jumped a whole share point to 7.5 to be third.


In Wellington, the Newstalk revival stalled, with its overall share down to 12.8 from 13.3 but second-placed Breeze dropped (from 11.1 to 10.4) and NZME’s ZM also dipped (8.2 from 8.6). At breakfast, Hosking had a rare blip losing two share points (14.2 from 16.2), with Breeze (10.4 from 11.2) and ZM (10.1 from 10.4) in second and third, both with small drops.


Christchurch is Newstalk’s Achilles heel, with the station in fourth overall (10.6 from 10.4) behind the local juggernaut More FM (14.4 from 14.5), The Sound (12.3 from 10.9) and Breeze (10.9 from 11.4).

In the south, Si and Gary’s More FM breakfast has the highest share in the land at 19.4 (from 18.6), almost six share points ahead of Newstalk ZB on 13.8 (13.0), and More cleans up the drivetime ratings as well, with 15.2 ahead of ZM’s 14.0.

So overall a tale of two companies – one guiding a talk and news giant but with music stations still struggling to break through and the other with a clutch of music heavyweights winning almost every big music battle in every market.

NZME’s media release on the website was headed “Newstalk ZB and Mike Hosking claim Auckland radio crown”, a crown that has been safely in their studios for years. “We’re up across the majority of our key markets with growth in all demographic groups 18 years and older,” chief commercial officer Matt Headland said.

MediaWorks chose to highlight the radio market’s overall audience gain before trumpeting More FM as winning “across the board”. “More FM is New Zealand’s number one music station and is New Zealanders’ music station of choice at Breakfast and Drive.”

The race for the overall market share between the companies tightened – MediaWorks had led NZME with 52.7 to 38.4 in May but now has 51.6 to 39.8, still a wide margin but a healthy gain for NZME.

RNZ’s audience survey is conducted separately by GfK and is usually released one week after that for the commercial stations.

Tim Murphy is co-editor of Newsroom. He writes about politics, Auckland, and media. Twitter: @tmurphynz

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