I write in my regular Thursday column to advise you that the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30.
It is, of course, the prerogative of any employer to make such a decision; but, given this is the case, I feel an obligation to my viewers to make some observations to avoid certain misconstructions.
In all my broadcasting life, the ratings performances have been scrutinised.
I have no problem with that.
It may seem immodest to point out that the meeting I had with management on Friday, October 29, occurred the day after our program won the ratings in the 8PM slot.
Ratings are an erratic beast, and in the excellent team of broadcasters with whom I have worked, we have all done our share of winning.
But in today’s world of social media, they only tell part of the story.
When I arrived at Sky News and was signed to a 17 month contract, it was made quite clear to me that the 8PM slot was, in the words of management, a ‘dead’ spot.
It was clear from the outset that my signing at Sky News brought over a new audience to the station.
Indeed, one observation was made last year that ‘since the launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia, the network has seen major growth across its digital platforms.’
And, ‘The launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia in July saw the channel’s radio ratings double on the iHeart Radio app, making Sky News Radio the #1 Australian news/talk station on the platform.’
In my brief time that I have been at Sky News, the audience at 8PM has significantly increased.
I will come to that in a moment.
I should also point out that at the meeting on Friday October 29, I wasn’t offered another slot with Sky News, but an alternative offer was made to me to appear once a week on the new streaming service, Flash.
I declined that offer.
In order to avoid any conclusion, contrary to the truth, I should point out here a few things in relation to my program.
Earlier this year, you might recall there was plenty of media noise over the fact that my regular column in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was ‘cancelled.’
All sorts of reasons were proffered, including the fact that, after 35 years of radio success, I was being told that my work ‘didn’t resonate.’
Surprisingly to me, this led to an article by Crikey, with whom you would be familiar.
It said in part, ‘Alan Jones has been dropped by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which claims his columns are no longer resonating with its audience. But is this true? All available evidence points to no.’
This article was on August 2nd, 2021.
It further went on, ‘The number of Facebook likes, shares and comments calculated by social media analysis tool Crowd Tangle can be a rough proxy for how many people on the platform are engaging with Jones’ content. Facebook link-outs remain a major source of traffic for Australian publishers. A look at Jones’ ten most recent columns show that they received an average of 3065 likes, shares and comments across Facebook; a significant number for any Australian publication. By comparison, fellow News Corp stablemate Miranda Devine’s last ten columns had an average of 217 engagements and Piers Akerman’s, 373.’
The story went on, ‘The number of comments on each article can also be used as another rough proxy. Daily Telegraph articles are pay-walled and only paying subscribers can comment on these stories… Alan Jones comes out on top again. His last ten pieces have received an average of 83 comments, more than Miranda Devine’s 59 and Piers Akerman’s 24. Beyond this, Jones’ claims of enormous social media reach, ring true. Over the past six months, his personal Facebook page audience has grown to 140,000 followers. July has been the biggest month of growth, adding 10,000 followers as he stepped up his anti-lockdown content. Likewise, Jones’ content has been a winner for Sky News Australia, too. Its top ten Facebook posts of the last month have all been from Alan Jones’ segments…’
When the announcement of the discontinuation of my column in the Daily Telegraph was made public, Campbell Reid, the Group Executive – Corporate Affairs, Policy and Government Relations, on behalf of Michael Miller, the Australian boss of News Corp issued a press statement which said, ‘These decisions should not be confused with the company’s corporate position, or, a signal that News Corp Australia no longer supports Alan. Alan is one of Australia’s most accomplished broadcasters; his show on Sky News is achieving strong success and he has a widely read column in The Australian. He is a compelling voice that has long represented the values of many Australians and his relationship with News Corp remains strong.’
On the social media front, it was said that November 2020 was ‘another extraordinary month for Alan Jones on social media.’
In that month, according to socialinsider.io, there were 12.6 million views of Alan Jones video on digital platforms, with 68% of the audience coming from YouTube.
I made mention of information on the US election being censored by ‘powerful interests’ in the media.
That post reached 4.2 million people on Facebook and delivered 2.4 million video views with 617,000 of those watching for longer than one minute, which was described as ‘an extraordinary result’ for Facebook where the audience typically has a short attention span.
That post on the US election had 41,300 comments and 78,000 shares of people sharing the post to their own Facebook page.
I remember interviewing Mick Mulvaney, the former Chief of Staff to Donald Trump and that interview had 1.3 million views, 11,500 comments and I was told it attracted ‘more than 4000 new subscribers’ to the Sky News Australia YouTube page. There are other metrics about which I feel obligated to inform you.
Sky News rightly boasts significant personalities with strong and legitimate opinions.
As a result, people often search the internet in order to refresh themselves with something we have said.
In other words, put simply, if you’re not saying anything that is relevant to the viewer or the public, they are not likely to be much interested in checking out your content.
In the modern idiom, people Google whomever it is they want to access.
I have been fortunate in encountering some people who are remarkably au fait with this process, because, understandably, I wanted to monitor my own reach and judge the relevance of what I was saying.
The results are significant.
According to SEMRush, on average, the number of searches, per month, for Alan Jones, to date, is approximately 31,700.
My colleague, the gifted Andrew Bolt, is the only person with more Google ‘searches’ at 40,000.
But I am sure Andrew won’t mind me pointing out that of the 31,700 searches for Alan Jones, 26,200 go straight to my SkyNews.com.au opinion page – 26,200 out of 31,700.
By comparison, and I would never seek in any way to diminish Andrew, who does magnificent work, as he is also a splendid columnist and many may well be searching for something he recently wrote.
So, only 15,800 of his 40,000 searches go to SkyNews.com.au and seek his opinions.
My point is, the total who go to the Alan Jones opinion area is, pleasingly, greater than the aggregate of all other Sky News hosts.
This is a significant point because the bulk of the Sky News audience, and management have acknowledged this, comes from online viewing; or, put another way, direct viewing of programs constitutes about 25% of the way in which viewers access Sky News content.
The rest comes from online – Sky News YouTube, Sky News Facebook or the Sky News website, SkyNews.com.au.
In recent times my material hasn’t been widely published on these sites as the company has felt under threat from being cancelled.
Nonetheless, the figure I have indicated above is significant.
People have been googling Alan Jones and immediately the bulk of them go to the Sky News website to access Alan Jones’ opinions.
Another metric from the month of October indicates that my Facebook page’s average engagement per post (Likes, Shares and Comments) is 1.473% compared to that of Sky News Australia’s Facebook page, which is 0.052%, which is 28 times greater.
Again, my Facebook page’s average engagement rate per page is vastly superior to that of Sky News Australia’s Facebook page.
I am only offering all of this because, for most of my professional life, I have never defended myself against criticisms of my performance.
I merely let the figures speak for themselves, as they did in radio and, as I think you can see from above, they have, in my brief stint on television.
May I say, I have enjoyed my experience thoroughly.
I have had nothing but support from people in the backroom of Sky News who rarely get a mention; and, apart from my contribution towards raising the viewer numbers, I hope I have also contributed to the morale of the organisation.
In particular, I want to thank my sponsors for their support of the program.
I want to thank my fellow hosts, because no one knows more than I do how difficult it is to put a program together each night.
They are gifted, generous and decent friends who’ve all enjoyed significant success.
They make, and will continue to make, unselfish and nationally significant contributions to the world of the media and public information.
I have always been grateful for their support and I wish them and the organisation at Sky News the very best in the tasks and challenges ahead.
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