Dave Cameron backs Hit management team & strategy despite ratings struggles
Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) chief content officer, Dave Cameron, said “of course” he backs the Hit Network’s leadership team and strategy, despite its mixed results across the country in the most recent radio ratings.
The terse reply came in an otherwise open and honest interview in which Cameron revealed he thinks about the Hit Network’s Sydney station 2DayFM more than any of its counterparts and congratulated rival KIIS FM for its extraordinary results.
The Hit Network’s most troubled station remains Sydney’s 2DayFM, which had a 3.3% share overall and in Breakfast. Its Drive share is slightly higher at 4.1%. Fox FM in Melbourne had a 7.0% share overall, 6.8% in Breakfast and 7.9% in Drive. Adelaide’s SAFM had 7.9% overall, 8.6% in Breakfast and 9.1% in Drive. Brisbane’s B105 had a 9.2% share, 9.3% in Breakfast and 10.2% in Drive. Perth’s Mix 94.5, meanwhile, performed the best in terms of overall share, on 11.7%. Its Breakfast share was even higher – 12.7% – while in Drive it had 11.8%.
In light of these numbers, Radio Today asked Cameron: “Do you still back the Hit Network strategy and that leadership team in what they’re doing?”
His reply: “Of course.”
Pressed further on why the network wasn’t consistently cutting through, Cameron broke down the problems it was facing, framing it as more of a city-by-city issue, rather than a national network problem.
“Let’s talk about Melbourne firstly,” he said.
“What we’ve seen in Melbourne is a mini version of lockdown impact, where you’ve seen us Fox, Triple M, KIIS, Nova all go backwards about the same amount in Breakfast. And it is specifically because there were no cars on the road for three weeks out of the last survey period. And so when there’s no cars on the road, Breakfast cume goes down…
“But all of the entertainment personality-led Breakfast shows have all been hit the same amount in Melbourne. But Fox is above our key competitors of Nova and KIIS. I think it will bounce back pretty quickly, like what we saw towards the end of last year.”
He noted that he’s “not too worried” about Fox, and pointed out it has the biggest cumulative audience in the country, despite a 62,000 drop from Survey 3 to Survey 4. Fox’s cumulative audience is now 1,072,000. Its closest competitor in Melbourne is ARN’s GOLD on 1,068,000, while in Sydney Nova has 1,061,000.
Moving onto Adelaide, Cameron said: “In terms of Adelaide, look, with the methodology, we’d refer to a bit of poison in our system with rolling surveys. And, I think both for Adelaide and for Brisbane, we’ve turned that around this survey, and I think Adelaide will become quite a tight market towards the end of the year. Certainly in the second half of the year, I think we’ll be able to see some momentum back on SAFM again.”
B105, he said, does have the ability to be the #1 station in Brisbane – something it has done before.
“With B105, that was #1 for a little bit of the first half of this year. And the product hasn’t changed. The strategy hasn’t changed. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be the #1 station. It got a bit of a whack last survey and unfortunately we roll that through to a bit of this result, but what we can see already is that the results that we’ll be able to take through to next survey will be certainly more positive and will put us back into the leadership basket again.”
B105’s Stav, Abby & Matt (pictured) were the #1 Breakfast show in Brisbane in Survey 2
And Perth’s Mix, he said, had held up really well.
“We had a big brand shakeup obviously and we have changing lineups and changing Drive shows, new brands launching, a new look and feel and a slightly tweaked format on Mix. I think Mix has held up really well today. In fact, I think we’ll get close to a leadership position in Perth over the next couple of surveys from what we can see already. So I’m really happy with Mix’s results today. Breakfast and overall.”
That just leaves the beleaguered 2DayFM in Sydney, which he said is hampered by legacy shows in the market.
“I would say that I continue to have a tight focus on the Sydney market and how we may continue to build an audience from a very, very tight and loyal audience base that is attached to other stations and brands. That will be our ongoing focus. And I think more about 2Day than any other station to be honest,” he said.
“In terms of us, look it’s the same conversation I had the last couple of surveys [and] probably the same one I’ll have with you for the next couple of surveys. My message is going to be repetitious at the moment, because it’s the same situation. We need to build an audience, continue to do what we’re doing. Be consistent. Hold the course for the show that continues to grow. And we need to find an audience that needs to come from a market that has very loyal listening. It has very little audience movement because of legacy shows that haven’t changed at all.”
Part of the network’s efforts to lift 2Day’s ratings, he said, would be “dangling some carrots” to move the cumulative audience over the next couple of years.
This includes the $1 million Alphabucks competition which launched across the Hit Network yesterday in a bid to lure listeners between now and the ultimate giveaway in November.
Head of the Hit Network, Gemma Fordham, noted how much traction the game had secured in the market already.
“Alphabucks is the ultimate game that our listeners love to play, whether they’re screaming out answers in the car or playing on-air with our shows, it has become the highly addictive and welcome part of our listeners’ morning,” she said.
“Over the past four years, Alphabucks has continued to grow from an on-air contest to an app game, an on-air Alphabucks Kids version, and now Alphabuks will be more life-changing than ever before. Knowing a fruit that starts with the letter ‘G’ could be the difference between someone winning a million dollars or not.”