DAB+, The Spectrum and What’s Next
Last week saw GfK’s latest DAB+ Digital Radio Report. In six years we have seen the Digital audience grow with 3.2 million Australians now listening via DAB+ and over thirty stations on offer.
A big slice of the spectrum is owned by one group and they happen to also have the Number 1 DAB+ brand in the space.
We caught up with Chief Creative Officer, Guy Dobson to talk DAB+. How committed is SCA to DAB, what are their next moves and how do they balance up looking after their FM revenue cash cows, while trying to grow their Digital Radio footprint?
Blair: How committed is SCA to DAB+ overall?
Guy: We bought the lions hare of spectrum way back when, in terms of land grab, it shows how keen we were about the spectrum back then. We’ve had several offers from different parties to use our spectrum and we could have done that ten times over in the last couple of years – in terms of companies that do things like Coles Radio .
It’s a pretty valuable piece of real estate at the moment and as you have seen with the results, we have a mini business there in terms of Triple M Classic Rock.
It’s only going to grow and with thirty percent of the spectrum in Australia we are in pretty good nick in terms of DAB+.
Blair: How do you grow those DAB+ Brands but not at the expense of your cash cows, being the traditional FM signals?
Guy: It’s one of those things, you have a look at what you get for GfK on the FM’s and then you look at what you get from Gfk on the Digital and you make sure the audiences are similar but not aligned.
We are finding a pretty decent balance between mainline Triple M, Classic Rock and Modern Rock – it’s about keeping the formats a least a generation away from the other two.
Blair: You have a stockpile of DAB spectrum available to you, do you see more market segmentation or niche programming for your new DAB brands?
Guy: We have got a couple of pretty exciting things about to happen in 2016, I’m not going to talk about them today. Two things, because it will jinx them and I don’t want to give the game away.
But Grant Blakely the new CEO is pretty to keen and willing to explore different niche options with DAB+.
Blair: Nova Entertainment has Coles Radio and ARN with Chemist Warehouse, are retail brands becoming a DAB channel something you are looking at for SCA?
Guy: Look never say never. We looked at it at around the same time as those guys but it didn’t really make sense to us. We have been pitched by various companies with a similar model. Good marks for those guys for making it work. As far as we are concerned it didn’t stack up for us.
Blair: Over in the UK there is talk of killing off FM and only going with DAB as the only delivery platform. Is that something you see happening in Australia?
Guy: First of all we have got to get DAB+ into regional Australia. Secondly and I’ve been on this for a while, the government has got to make DAB standard in cars in Australia.
Once it penetrates cars, there are 24 million people, once 48 million cars get it in, then we have got mass in Australia.
We are a long way from that and I have severe doubts for the UK too.