ABC comes out swinging over RN Breakfast listener figures

The first survey after Karvelas took over hosting RN Breakfast in 2022, following the departure of longtime host Fran Kelly, showed a cumulative audience of 134,000 in Sydney, but that figure is now 59,000.


This week’s GfK survey showed Sydney’s most popular breakfast radio program was KIIS106.5’s Kyle and Jackie O Show, with a cumulative audience of 921,000.

RN Breakfast continues to perform best in the Melbourne market with an audience of 120,000, (down from 141,000 in the first survey of 2022), which is more than double its Sydney audience and a rise of 8000 listeners in the Victorian capital on the previous survey.

While RN Breakfast’s audience dipped towards the end of 2022 in Melbourne, the program has increased its audience in the city in the first three surveys of 2023.

But it was still ranked 11th out of 15 programs in Melbourne in the latest survey.

At the end of 2021, as Kelly departed, RN Breakfast’s cumulative national audience was 416,000.

In the first survey of 2023, after a year with Karvelas at the helm, that figure had fallen to 240,000. But the cumulative audience increased to 250,000 in the second survey and now sits at 261,000.

An executive close to the broadcaster, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the figures as “quite shocking” considering the investment that went into the show’s production.

Karvelas declined to comment. The ABC declined to comment further.

ABC managing director David Anderson: “As Australia changes, so must the ABC.” Credit: Dominic Lorrimer

The ABC said in its statement Radio National’s on-demand listenership totalled 480,000 streams weekly, and added that those figures were not captured by GfK ratings, “and now make up just under half of the station’s total streams on ABC platforms”.

“RN also delivers 2.3 million podcast downloads weekly across ABC and third-party platforms like Spotify and Apple, further displaying its strength on digital, thanks to its flagship programs, including RN Breakfast, leading this growth.”

Figures last month showed ABC radio’s performance declining across its metro stations as well as RN and youth broadcaster triple j.

In Melbourne, Radio National had a total audience of 200,000 across a week in survey three, from a total potential audience of 4.59 million.

The ABC launched its five-year plan on Friday, emphasising its shift as a digitally led broadcaster.

The ABC launched its five-year plan on Friday, emphasising its shift as a digitally led broadcaster.Credit: Steven Siewert

Meanwhile, the ABC launched its five-year plan for 2023-28 on Friday, as managing director David Anderson emphasised the importance of the broadcaster’s digital strategy.

The ABC plans to undergo a transition from maintaining traditional broadcast and digital processes towards becoming an integrated digital operation.

“By 2028, the ABC will serve more Australians on the platform of their choice with made-for-digital content and journalism on ABC News, ABC iview, ABC Listen and on major third-party platforms,” Anderson said.


“Australians trust and value the ABC and this will not change.

“As we move through this period of digital evolution, Australians can continue to rely on us for the content and services that inform, educate and entertain.”

He assured the ABC audience that the broadcaster would “safeguard traditional broadcast services as long as these remain essential for keeping Australians informed and entertained”.

“As Australia changes, so must the ABC,” Anderson said.

Anderson told ABC Perth on Friday that people were broadly consuming more audio through streaming devices than broadcast, but admitted this was “perhaps not” the case for older demographics, such as above 60s.

“We need to follow the audience over time, we need to go where the audience is, and increasingly that is to also have a presence and an awareness about what we do on our digital services,” he said.

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