Duncan Campbell: ” I think we’ll continue to be the dominant network”

Staff Writer

Following Survey #1 for 2015, we hooked up with a couple of the Group Content Directors.  Earlier it was Nova Entertainment’s Paul Jackson. Later, Craig Bruce on SCA.

Right now we talk with Duncan Campbell on ARN.

We’ll cut to the chase on Melbourne and Sydney, and whilst some good news for Kiis, the Classic Gold brands took some hits. For Sydney, we’ll talk about Smooth and NE’s moves, and SCA’s hit in Adelaide and Sydney. And will the Kiis brand make a move into Perth?

Blair: Looks to be a strong launch for Kiis 101.1, a 7.1 share placing you 5th overall.  Nice result, nice debut.

Duncan Campbell:  It is. It is a good debut, you know in the context of Melbourne being the most competitive market in Australia , for a station to perform that well with a brand new breakfast show with a couple of people who haven’t worked together before is really encouraging.  And it looks like the momentum is going to be with Kiis going into Surveys 2 and 3, so very happy with the debut of our newest station.  All the indicators are very positive, and no complaints from me there.

Blair:  You’ve actually got to be happy with Matt and Jane, equal No.2 with Fox FM as well.

Duncan:   Yeah, look that’s a great result.  Matt and Jane have never worked together before, you know we put together a great combination, I think the best is well and truly yet to come from those two.  The show is only relatively very new, so for them to equal Fox first survey is quite extraordinary actually.  So again, lots of positive indicators and looking forward to the next few results.


Blair:  Are we actually starting to see the Hughesy and Kate effect as well in Melbourne for drive?

Duncan:  Definitely. I mean, you know a great result for them as well, up .6, 7.9, it’s a good number, and I think we’re just going to have to see how the momentum unfolds, but very positive for those two as well.

Blair:  Hughesy and Kate is pushed out to multiple markets – Adelaide and Brisbane have different music formats compared to say Sydney and Melbourne… how is the networking side working?

Duncan:  Working very well, I mean that’s the great thing, to have such great talent  appearing across multiple stations without any disruptions to the formats on those stations is really important and I think yeah, it’s working really well. No issues at all.

Blair:  Now just back to Melbourne for a sec… now we have Kiis 101.1 sorted – on the flip slide, Gold FM had a bit of a rough start to the year.

Duncan:  Look that’s disappointing. I mean I didn’t see that one to be honest.  I thought they would perform better than they did. I haven’t dug any deeper into the numbers in terms of the reasons why but look, I’m convinced they’ll bounce back.  They do sometimes take a hit, the format remains very strong but yeah, a disappointing result today for that station.

Blair:  In Sydney with Kiis 1065, Sales have got to love the result up there.  No.1 with an 8.7 despite some falls under 24.  You’re dominating 25-39’s with a 4% lead.  Nice story, nice Sales story.

Duncan:  It’s a great Sales story and I think you know we really positioned Kiis perfectly when it comes to its format.  You know we wanted 25-54’s to be very strong with a very strong 25-39 presence and we’ve managed to achieve that.  So Kiis is very much on track and Kyle and Jackie O I think in the first survey of the year have produced some of their best content ever, so really happy about that.

Blair:  How are Kyle and Jackie O?

Duncan:  In great form, I think they’ve never been better to be honest.  I speak to them regularly, I had a catch-up with Jackie O Monday and I’ve got coffee with Kyle next week, and they’re both in great form.  The enthusiasm is still there, the passion is still there and I think you’re hearing that through the speakers.  The content’s just exceptional at the moment.

Blair:  WSFM remains No.2 FM….just.  A few red ink marks on the demos and dayparts outside of Jason Staveley on Arvos.  Thoughts on that one?

Duncan:  Yeah, I mean again, our goal is always to be No.1 and No.2 and we’ve managed to achieve that.  Slight dips today in some of the dayparts etc., but again I go back to the strategy.  We’ve got very high levels of confidence in the strategy, we believe it’s right, the Breakfast Shows very strong, it’s a Heritage Show so it’s Survey 1 and I expect that to bounce back over the next couple of books.

Blair:  Nova Entertainment’s Tony Thomas has predicted that Smooth will go No.1 over WSFM and Kiis this year.  What’s your thoughts?

Duncan: Smooth is a strong performer.  Whether it has the ability to go No.1 is a big question and I suspect Tony was being slightly bullish there, but I think it’s sitting very well, it’s 7.3 in Sydney and it’s done fairly well.  I think No.1 overall is a big ask, particularly with a station like Kiis in the market and a show like Kyle and Jackie O, but you know, no harm in trying.

Blair:  Up in Brisbane, ripper results for both brands for ARN, the standout has got to be 97.3 though.  Amazing.

Duncan:  Yeah, look we put a lot of work into that Breakfast Show and the content into Breakfast this Survey.  We research the music regularly, it’s a very well put together station by Barry and the team up there and that’s where we believe the station should be.  It’s a great performance for them and couldn’t be happier.

And of course KQ’s also had a good result as well, so the duopoly for us is working really, really well at the moment.

Blair:  96FM, first book under you guys.  What a way to start, welcome to Perth.

Duncan:  Well, look I would love to claim some credit for that but I’m not.  So, ah….

Blair:  You’re not going to do that?

Duncan:  No, I think it’s a credit to the team that are there. I’ve spoken to Brad (pic) and we believe there’s certainly growth in 96.  It performs very well and great to see it at No.2 in the market.  But we’ve got some great plans for the station which we’ll unfold over the next couple of quarters and the team inside of the station is very excited about that.  But a good result for them today and they should all be very happy with that.

Blair:  So with 96FM, you’re pulling it under the Kiis umbrella, is that right?

Duncan:  Well it’s coming under the Kiis umbrella in terms of a network but we’re not going to change the name of the station to Kiis.

Blair:  Here we go, an AM music station biting on the heels of Triple M and well ahead of Hit 107.  I’m obviously talking about Cruise in Adelaide, it’s got to be the standout result for you guys down there.

Duncan:  Cruise has done very well and again, it has historically been ahead of Hit 107, or SAFM as it was once called so that’s a pretty impressive result.  And to be very close to Triple M as well.

I think what’s interesting, in terms of taking a holistic view of surveys around the country is really the failure of the Hit strategy for SCA, there’s really no momentum behind that at all.  And Hit 107 was the first station to flip and there’s been zero growth out of that over the last three books, so I’d say there’s some big questions being asked inside the corridors of SCA today.

Blair:  Look, obviously Mix 102.3 remains No.1 overall but you took a bit of a hit this round.  What do you think drove some of those results downwards just a little bit with the station?

Duncan:  Look it does ebb and flow historically, it always remains very strong, you know the losses were primarily under 24’s so we’re not overly concerned about that.  Still remains very strong 25-54 and it’s just a very strong station, those hits it takes tend to happen occasionally throughout the year but the station bounces back pretty quickly so I expect that to be the case in this situation as well.

Blair: Final two questions Duncan – here’s the first one that I’ll ask each Group CD.

Have you seen a market closer than Melbourne before?  I guess we’ve got .7% separating the top 6 stations now.  If we take in variances of 1-2% it basically makes all the stations around the same or on top of each other.  You’ve worked overseas as well, have you ever experienced a market as tight as Melbourne in your whole career?

Duncan:  Not as tight as Melbourne, no.  It’s very tight and the reality is the market is in a state of flux, there’s a lot of churn going on I suspect audience wise, and where they settle is going to be really interesting.  It comes back down to which station has the momentum and you know looking at those numbers Kiis certainly has some momentum, Triple M has some momentum as well. 

To what degree that momentum sort of carries forward will determine who comes out on top, but it’s very, very tight as I think everyone to be fair predicted.  I mean we never came out and said it will be a duplication of Sydney, I’ve always acknowledged it will be a tight market as has Craig, and I think as has Paul, and that’s what we’re seeing today.  So really interesting how that plays out particularly over the next couple of surveys.

Blair:  How do you see 2015 panning out for ARN overall?

Duncan: Look I think we’ll continue to be the dominant network.  I think we’ve had a very solid strategy, a robust strategy that we have a huge amount of confidence in and we focus now on executing that, particularly around the strength of content in Breakfast and also amplifying that content across our digital assets which we’re doing more and more of, and we’re getting smarter across all our stations so I think there will be some threats potentially, but we’re well positioned to deflect those as we move through the year.

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