Swan to Fox makes sense

Last week SCA announced that Chrissie Swan would join “Fifi & Dave” on Fox Breakfast in Melbourne each Friday at 8am.

It’s a smart move. For both parties, and for quite different reasons.

I’m not privy to the background behind ARN’s decision to exit Chrissie from Mix last year, however decisions like that are not taken lightly, and it would clearly have been well-considered.

Notwithstanding that, I don’t expect many (even ARN) would disagree that Chrissie is an extremely talented broadcaster who resonates (particularly) with female listeners.

Fifi & Dave - Fox FMGiven that, and the current lack of full-time Breakfast opportunities, the Fox move is a good one for Chrissie. It gets her back in “the game”, allows her the opportunity to develop a relationship with the SCA programmers, whilst showing them what she can do right under their noses and, importantly, it keeps her in a contemporary brand space.

It’s a good move.

For SCA though, arguably there is more to be gained. Why would they sign Chrissie to a couple of segments a week? On the surface, it’s going to be some female-friendly, fun content from a popular personality from 8-8.30 every Friday morning on Fox.

But there’s clearly more to it.

Forget about the various rumours, innuendo and stories about why ARN axed Chrissie last year; listeners don’t know about any of that, and nor do they care. A significant number of female listeners love Chrissie, and she’s a personality that some of her fans would follow her for.

For SCA, I suspect the content that she will provide on Friday mornings is secondary to two other objectives:

Objective 1

It’s a ‘captain obvious’, however if Fox can effectively communicate to KIIS listeners that Chrissie is on Fox now (albeit weekly), it provides the opportunity to pick up potentially disenfranchised former “Chrissie & Jane” listeners to sample what is still a relatively new show in “Fifi and Dave”.

But I would suggest there’s an even more important objective for SCA.

Objective 2

Block smoothfm.

smoothfm in Melbourne (and in Sydney) is a strong brand that has been positioned and marketed well. I tend to think it’s a matter of time before it takes the #1 FM position, most likely in Melbourne first. It won’t be in tomorrow’s result, but it will happen, probably this year.

For SCA, and ARN for that matter, smoothfm at #1 FM for the odd survey here and there is not really significant, it’s traditional in the Melbourne market to chop and change a bit. However, should smoothfm hold #1 FM for multiple surveys it would be extremely unhelpful for those groups, and there’s a real chance it could happen, particularly with a more competitive Breakfast performance.

smoothfm currently generates good TSL across the day, driving a competitive ratings position in those dayparts; it is in Breakfast where the station performs below station average, as shown in the graphs below.

In fairness, Breakfast rating lower than station average is not an uncommon position for strong workplace listening formats.

It could be argued that the ‘more music’ position in Breakfast serves a purpose beyond a ratings objective and that the ‘more music’ strategy in that daypart is about differentiation, and delivering on the overall brand values of smoothfm.

However, it could also be argued that in Melbourne, were Nova Entertainment to build a Breakfast offering on smoothfm around Chrissie Swan – perhaps joining Mike Perso – that there would be potential to grow Breakfast share by 1-2%.

The flow-on effect to daytime, and overall share, would be significant, and take smoothfm to potentially a clear #1 FM position.

Mind you, smoothfm is certainly doing well without a more traditional Breakfast offering (and the significant costs that come with it), so it is completely possible that they have zero interest in changing their model in any way – and the growth of smoothfm over the last couple of years would suggest they’re doing a bit right.

But whether smoothfm did, didn’t, or do, have any interest in Chrissie Swan is irrelevant. It was a risk that SCA were probably unwilling to take, so in that context it’s a smart move to take the possibility off the table.

So the end result is this.

Chrissie Swan gets back on-air, weekly, in a contemporary brand environment.

SCA get a high-profile, extremely female-friendly, personality to contribute to the Fox show weekly; potentially give KIIS a bit of an uppercut by drawing some Breakfast (Chrissie fans) listeners across to sample ‘Fifi & Dave”; and perhaps most importantly (for them), they ‘warehouse’ Chrissie and remove any potential for smoothfm to make a bigger Breakfast play.

At least for now.


Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; a boutique international radio consulting and artist management company, working with radio stations, media talent and music artists.

You can contact Dan here.

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