Can 2DayFM survive in Sydney’s battleground?
In this piece by Radio Today Director Brad March, the former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo, asks:
'How is 2DayFM going?"
"Can it survive and win the Sydney FM war?"
Here are his thoughts:
The patient’s heart is beating again.
It’s been given mouth to mouth, has been hit with the defibrillator and it’s now breathing again, which is good news.
Southern Cross Austereo programmers are in the process of rebuilding 2DayFM after ratings declines this year.
This week’s increase of 0.5% would be some relief for SCA, but they would be disappointed with breakfast dropping. 2Day’s drive and 25-39’s both showed some gains.
It looks like it's heading for a KIIS/Nova CHR battle, with those stations neck and neck, for a while, while 2Day’s new direction takes shape.
This leaves WSFM on its own as the clear FM leader for quite some time. WS now being virtually the ‘CHR’ for over 40s. It may play ‘classic’ hits but it’s CHR in attitude, mechanics, positioning, production/imaging and its superstar breakfast show . Even more so now with the new Pure Gold positioning.
Much improvement has been made at 2Day. Its music has changed and improved, it’s working to regain lost ground, trying to reclaim its former hit music position.
Hit music is now a three-way contest in Sydney between Nova, KIIS and 2Day. Strategically ARN’s KIIS now clearly owns the hit music position, Nova is number 2 and 2Day number 3.
It's quite a challenge to be the number 3 in a CHR music battle.
Traditionally, there have been three types of contemporary hit radio – adult top 40, which is broader and older; rhythm/dance /urban; and mainstream top 40. The lines are blurred between the last 2. There are less extremes in the music cycle right now.
KIIS could almost be defined as a Hot AC or could move further in that direction in the future. 2Day’s music is currently ‘hotter’ than KIIS. KIIS’s music is broader, and can afford to be, because of a superior, older demo, successful breakfast show. 2Day and Nova’s music is now sounding almost the same.
KIIS are the leaders, Nova is flanking KIIS and now 2Day clearly needs to flank the market. This is as much about strategic warfare as it is about content.
2DayFM needs to have a stronger point of difference (flanking strategy rule # 1) with not only its music but, importantly, also its breakfast show. The SCA programmers, producers and talent have done a great job in a short amount of time and full credit to them.
The new breakfast team of Jules, Merrick and Sophie are sounding good and delivering strong content. Whilst the new breakfast show has improved, the big question is: ‘Does it fit the strategic opportunity in the market?’ Given the strength of Kyle and Jackie O, it seems the opportunity for 2Day music and breakfast is 18-24 females. Does the current breakfast show appeal to that demographic? Will they unfortunately become the sacrificial lambs?
The saying ‘you can’t be better, you have to be different’ very much applies to 2Day’s current situation. So will 2Day make another breakfast change before the years out? Dan and Maz or Will and Woody are possibles and would be a good fit.
Will they make further shifts to the music, appealing to an even younger demo than it is currently? KIIS and Nova will maintain, defend and want to build on the key 25-39 demographic, the most important to advertisers.
Certainly both Nova and KIIS will have strong defence plans already in place.
Will SCA go so far as to re brand the station?
2Day, for a long time, has meant ‘Kyle and Jackie’ to its listeners. It’s now clearly lost that position. Can 2Day be young, cool and hip again? Maybe they could re brand as Beat 104.1, Fox, Hot104.1, Virgin, X104.1, SeaFM or you might have some other ideas for a name change?
Personally I wouldn't change the 2Day brand. It’s not in the same position as say the Ten television network or MySpace! Any move to rebrand the station at this stage would be premature.
2Day’s music, production/imaging, breakfast, marketing, drive and other talent will re create the brand over time. In the same way Beats will make Apple hip again, new talent and music can make 2Day ‘hip‘ again.
SCA programmers, management and board could have some hard decisions to make on 2Day’s future before the end of this year. A lot will depend on the ratings results mid year.
The reality is, programmers and executives never get it right every time. Just look at the failed radio (re)launches like Vega, Mix Melbourne, Triple M Sydney and others in the past.
It’s always a lot easier watching from the sidelines, when you’re not under pressure, in the heat of the battle. It will be interesting to watch 104.1.
Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year
**Thanks to Scott Muller at MBOS for his comments on WSFM.