Craig Bruce: “last thing we need to do now is to overthink our position”
It’s safe to say that Craig Bruce, Group Content Director for Southern Cross Austereo has a number of things on the go. Survey 2 has also thrown up a few more challenges for the group. We’ll take an in-depth look at each market to get a feel of what’s working and what isn’t from Craig’s side of things. We’ll gain insight into SCA’s Mantra for 2015 including what are the next steps for the hit brands and do listeners get it?
Blair: The long road for 2Day continues….
Craig: Yeah it does… how long have we been talking about the long road for 2Day FM? It feels like forever.
Nothing new to report other than all the points we have reported previously where we are at in our cycle.
And whilst Dan & Maz as a show has been around for 6 or 7 years, they are 3 months into Sydney breakfast and whatever improvement we see is going to take some time. I know that is boring for everyone because I have said it before.
The only other point that I would make is, it is a little bit hard to make a judgement on the plan and what we are doing until it is genuinely complete. By that I mean the last piece of the puzzle in place that I think will help us, being Hamish & Andy.
There was nothing to celebrate in Sydney today or necessarily around the country but we still think the best is ahead of us. And I am absolutely convinced of that having heard our shows around the country. I think all of our breakfast shows are in good shape, we just need to hold our ground on what we are doing and where we are at and make sure we have got some great activity on the air across all our shows and that will continue to be the focus.
Blair: Triple M Sydney is basically flat this round – 25-39’s up, 40-54’s down – any concerns there?
Craig: Not really. The Triple M numbers in Sydney, the high fives or early sixes – we’d like to see a six in front of Triple M. Everything is in place at 2MMM as it is for 3MMM for a fairly good consistent run for the next period of time for the heritage of the breakfast show here and the one in Melbourne as well.
Those numbers will fluctuate, it can be a number of small issues, whether it be TSL in a particular demographic – it will move around survey to survey. You’ve got to look at it over a long period of time.
The suggestion would be 2MMM range is, on a bad day somewhere in the low fives, on a good day the mid to high sixes and that certainly is our hope.
Blair: Melbourne, if you were going to slip from the #1 FM position, you’d prefer it to be your other station that knocks you off and Triple M did that?
Craig: Yeah look an unusual result, now given that the Hot Breakfast is as brilliant as it is – the full line up of AFL, James and Billy back on the air at 3o’clock, we should see some extra share off the back of those two content pieces now in play. But yeah it’s certainly unusual, I am not sure if there are any rock formats in the world that are winning in a market like Melbourne, the size of Melbourne.
But it is testiment to the quality of the breakfast show and the quality of the work that everyone has done there. We said to Eddy, Mick and Luke at the start of the year that there would be three stations fighting for the under 40 demographic, being Nova, KIIS and Fox and that is absolutely the case. We suspected they would be the beneficiary for that crazy fight to the death that those three formats are going through and that seems to be the case at the moment.
Blair: Fox has slipped by nearly a point; yet remains in #2 FM position.
Craig:We’re not going to hide from the fact and drop and celebrate any kind of one/two style win. The Fox should be capable of doing better from a share perspective and it will. I still think that it is going to be the station that will be the beneficiary of Hamish & Andy’s return in the second half of the year. Those three stations, Nova, Fox and KIIS are in a pack at the moment, our bet is with Hamish & Andy returning, it will see some upside with Fox in the second half of the year.
Blair: Happy to secure Chrissie Swan as part of the Fox line-up as well?
Craig: Well Chrissie is just so talented. I’ve always loved her work. She is one of a handful of performers that I could happily listen to every day.
I know she is looking forward to it as are Fifi & Dave.
We’re incredibly excited to have her on our roster. She’s a genuine superstar in that market and we’re very fortunate to have her on board.
Blair: Anything further planned with Chrissie or just Fox at the minute?
Craig: Nothing else at this stage, hey there is a hundred things she could do and there might be other things that open up but at this stage we are having are looking only at breakfast support, which we are excited about.
Blair: For Brisbane, not the best result for both your brands up there, both taking a bit of a hit.
Craig: I was surprised by those results to be honest. I thought our brands were in better shape than the numbers would suggest today. I can’t put a finger on either result in terms of – is there something we are not doing or should be doing with either stations? But we will certainly be looking at both.
Certainly for Triple M we are at the mercy of time spent listening and the bounces that can come from TSL, sometimes it plays in our favour and sometimes it doesn’t.
We were and still are confident that our music is really well placed to drive some workday listening, which hasn’t shown up in this book, but we are confident that will come through at some point.
And hit105, hey look it’s off a little, it’s possibly not dissimilar to the numbers we have seen over the last 12 to 18 months. It really hasn’t found that consistency of share we would like to have, but in terms of activity and creativity on the air I am pretty happy with what they have been doing. It’s disappointing we haven’t seen that reward for effort.
Blair: Are you starting to turn the corner a little with hit107?
Craig:That will take a little while given that we are back to square one to a large degree. It was tough for everyone during that period and certainly very tough for Dani. I thought she made a very courageous decision to put her hand up and admit that she possibly wasn’t in the right headspace for metro breakfast for lots of reasons. I hope that she finds success and happiness with whatever she chooses to do next.
Having said that Cat has settled really quickly into the role. She is a natural storyteller. She has got a great turn of phrase, she has got a really calmed chilled presence that really works perfectly for Amos. We have got a real lot of unsolicited feedback from our database from staff and that is really the only feedback we can rely on at the moment. So early days, I still think that Irene has done a terrific job with the overall sound and packaging with hit107 and we are both really confident the numbers will come through at some point.
Blair: Triple M – lost the gains you made last book?
Craig: Another one that was disappointing today for us. I can’t give you a reason for it. I am not in Adelaide a lot but when I am and I hear Roo & Ditts, even this year it has gone up another notch in terms of the content they are doing.
I couldn’t give specifically a reason behind the result. We are going to have to take it on the chin and get back into it through survey three and four. Structurally the way we have in terms of the format and position right now it’s set-up for a better result than the one we had today.
Blair: Over in Perth Mix is out in front but a little ground – any concerns with breakfast – lost 2 points there – why did that happen do you think?
Craig: I hate being non-specific with answers but Mix breakfast is a great example of some of the other numbers we have seen today and trying to put an explanation behind it. Given that Mix had four increases in a row up until today. Maybe my ears are off and I can imagine the comments coming through already. Having been in the market two or three times this year I think Mix breakfast is sounding better than it has done in a long, long period of time. And by that I mean in the last 2 or 3 months we have worked specifically on a couple of areas of improvement and the guys have absolutely nailed all those areas. What I hear out of the speakers is not reflective of today’s results. I said the same about Roo & Ditts, that doesn’t change the number and I know that.
It’s one thing when you get a bad result and you know that you kind of deserved it, you know your breakfast show is off or it’s just not doing enough, there’s infighting or whatever is going on behind the scenes. You get what you deserve.
But 5MMM and Mix Breakfast, I look at those two results and think wow, we sound a lot better than those numbers would suggest. That’s obviously going to sound like spin from my perspective but I genuinely believe that.
Blair: hit929 – steady as she goes?
Craig: I’ve spent a bit of time in Perth over the last few months, I reckon Heidi, Will and Woody have gone up another level, even over the last few weeks. You know sometimes with new shows, and I remember (not that I am comparing Heidi, Will and Woody to Hamish & Andy) but the comparisons in terms of moments when they have got it. And that has happened in the last month with these guys, where there’s a couple of things that have played out where the three of them have really nailed their roles and Woody is certainly starting to really build his confidence around his natural capabilities. You know when you are working with a younger show in breakfast, there is so much to learn, so much to teach them and we have done that in the last 12 to 18 months with these guys and I think they are now starting to nail the breakfast entry points, but in recent months they have really started to add their own creativity and build some confidence around that. That’s not necessarily going to convert to ratings overnight and it hasn’t today but it feels like to me a show that can genuinely compete over time with Nova and provide an alternative to Nathan, Nat and Shaun.
If you asked me that question this time 12 months ago, we were just trying to get the basics in place but what I feel like in the last month or so is that we have really taken that next step which we needed to as a show and it feels like it has moved up a notch.
What that will mean from a share perspective? Nothing will move quickly necessarily but it feels like we are on the path.
It feels like we are on the path with Cat and Amos as well. As I said, the breakfast show at Mix in Perth and Triple M in Adelaide are better than the numbers would suggest. They’re pretty consistent with the Grill Team in Sydney. Hot Breakfast in Melbourne is knocking it out of the park. Fox is in a firefight at the moment and will be for a period of time. And in Brisbane the numbers were both disappointing but I can’t give you a specific reason for them.
So a bit disappointing today but we will get on with it and into it for survey 3.
Blair: What are the next steps for your hit brands?
Craig: They are the same steps we have been on, which is to be consistent with the path we are on and to not start second guessing ourselves around what and why we are doing it. And we haven’t fired all of our shots.
And if I haven’t said it to you already, I will say it again. It is difficult to judge the plan until it is complete, and there is a really big piece of that puzzle that is not on the air yet. And we are not suggesting for a minute that Hamish & Andy are the cure or will be the saviours but they will add some sparkle and halo to the other elements we have brought to the table this year. Everyone would have loved to have them on from the start of this year and that’s ok, July 13 is not too far off now.
So the last thing we need to do now is to start over-thinking our position. There are always areas we can improve on and things we can do better, but I think we are all very comfortable with the path we are on,. We just need to be consistent with what we are doing.
Blair: Is there any confusion with listeners with the actual hit brand itself?
Craig: Which market?
Blair: I’ve gone a bit broad there haven’t I?
Craig:That Ok, the answer is no. It’s actually a fair question and the answer is no.
Has it impacted hit107 versus SAFM? Has it impacted hit105 versus b105? There might be an argument, I don’t have any data that would prove that argument one way or the other. It is certainly not a reason to go back to where we were. It might be just another small factor in the lives of our audience that don’t give a rats backside about radio necessarily. If we are making it hard for them then that’s our issue, we need to deal with it.
Certainly in Sydney and Melbourne, the hit 104.1 and hit 101.9 to us is more of a positioner than the branding of the station. If you look at it, it is still 2Day FM front and centre with whatever we do and Fox FM is the same. Certainly with hit107 we may have been a little unlucky at the start of the year with the hit107 and SAFM change over, and maybe that has happened with hit105 as well. I think that will become less of a problem the more we promote it and market it over time. It’s a fair question though.
Blair: What are you hoping for in Survey 3?
Craig:I’ve never looked at a survey in isolation, there is no point putting a particular set of metrics on a survey result. You’re only going to come out of it feeling let down in some way, shape or form because there are so many elements that contribute to a result. Cume and TSL, market activity and a bunch of things that could happen. You’ve got to look at it over a long period of time and you’ve got to go inside and look at the numbers you are trying to target to see if there is some kind of improvement.
Blair: And see the trends as well.
Craig:Yes, see the trends. And more often than not as programmers you tend to hear what you are looking for before the audience will necessarily recognise it and recognise it with a tick in the diary.
Momentum through activity is our mantra for breakfast and that is not a survey 3 mantra, that’s our view for this year on how we are going to bring our breakfast shows to the fore.
On the hit network, it is to build momentum through activity, genuinely interesting activity.
Are we doing that in all markets better than our competitors? No, not at the moment but that is our goal.