Nova Entertainment | 2014 in review & a peek at 2015


In February this year DMG Radio Australia rebranded to Nova Entertainment, forging its own identity separate to founding company UK’s DMGT.

And along with the new identity, Nova has had a very strong year.

It is now the number 1 metro network by cume, with the highest weekly reach in its history, over 3.3 million listeners, well ahead of its nearest competitor.

In the latter part of the year there were several key Programming changes.  Shaun Heron was promoted to the role of Nova Sydney’s Content Director.  Brendan Taylor was appointed to a new Group Program Operations role.  Mike Cass, Nova Melb CD, left to return to the UK and Rohan Brown was appointed to Nova Melbourne.  Peter Clay was promoted into the role of Smooth Content Director.

During the year Nova launched a new breakfast show in Melbourne, Tommy & Meshel, rating a very healthy 7%.

Nova’s National drive show, Marty Tim & Kate, was a standout in the ratings, number 1 FM drive show in Sydney / Melbourne and number 1 overall B/A/P.  With the importance, and competitiveness of drive, Marty Sheargold is clearly one of Nova’s key talent.

MTK, arguably Nova’s strongest ever drive show, will be competing with both Hamish & Andy and former Nova breakfast hosts Hughesy and Kate. It is likely there will be some ratings impact on Nova Melbourne particularly.

The key Sydney station Nova 96.9 has clearly benefited from 2dayfm’s collapse in ratings. Nova now rates 6.7%, ahead of Triple M, Smooth and 2day, however trailing ARN’s WS and KIIS.

It took a while, but Fitzy & Wippa cracked 7%; their best ratings yet.

The Sydney market will be more competitive in the new year for Nova Sydney with the potential 2Day (Hit) relaunch.

This will have an impact on both Nova and Kiis, but primarily Nova.

And in Adelaide it should be noted; Nova now has renewed competition from the newly launched Hit107.

Scott Muller, Strategy Consultant and former Nova Sydney Program Director, who took the station to number 1 overall,  said “It has always been important to look at the Nova network as a whole which is greater than its individual parts.  Paul Thompson set it up with that intention from the start, and Cath O’Connor has clearly continued and built upon that legacy and attitude of ‘as an organisation, it doesn’t matter how well each individual station as much as how well the overall network does’.  It’s a big, network-wide team effort.  

And while some of the individual Novas do exceptionally well, the greater point must always be that the combined network does exceptionally well indeed.  To have its highest cume in history is an extraordinary achievement – it is a CHR network, after all, and cume is the beginning, middle and end-game in CHR”. 

Smooth’s ratings during 2014 were strong and stable with good growth year on year in Melbourne, and given the Smooth brand was only launched 2½ years ago there is still revenue growth to come.

One option NE has is to develop talent-based breakfast ‘shows’ on Smooth, rather than the solo announcer offering. This would take Smooth to the next level, and with the right talent potentially the number 1 FM position.

For an additional estimated $1mil -$2 mil each market M/S, it could add 2-3 ratings points delivering Smooth ratings around 8%. This could potentially generate an additional tens of millions of dollars in revenue. However, the company may prefer to stay out of the major talent breakfast battle, and there may be a view that it doesn’t fit the Smooth brand.

Nova Entertainment put their toe in the water in television this year:

The Smooth TV Channel has now been on air on Foxtel for around 12 months, the first radio brand to become a TV channel in Australia.

Nova Entertainment also launched Nova TV “radio you can see“ in partnership with Vadio this year.

So how have the financials performed this year? Nova Entertainments profit for 2014 was recently announced,  and the company achieved approx $52 million ebitda compared to 2013’s figure of around $40 million, year on year growth of around 28%.

CEO Cath O’Connor is forecasting 20% ebitda growth for 2015 which will take it to around $62 mil.

When compared to the other metropolitan FM, Nova Entertainment is catching up on profit numbers, with less stations.

NE profit now $52

ARN profit approx. $60 mil

SCA metro profit $73 mil

As a company NE have benefited from stable leadership and ownership despite press reports of a possible sale by Lachlan Murdoch during the year, which were heavily denied.

NE’s brands and talent benefit from strong press coverage via News Ltd press of which Nova owner Lachlan Murdoch is now Co-Chairman of ( News Corp  ).

Cath O’Connor has now been Managing Director / CEO for 12 years. She is the longest serving leader of any metro radio Group company aside from DMG and Austereo founder Paul Thompson.

The executive team has been stable as well.

Louise Higgins has been in the key COO role for the last 4 years, and has just been announced as Melbourne General Manager in addition to her national role. This will give NE Melbourne added strength next year in what will be a considerably more competitive market in 2015.

Paul Jackson has been Group Program Director for the past 4 years along with Peter Charlton Group Sales Director and Group Marketing Director Tony Thomas make a strong combination and are a successful team.

And they’ll need to be on their game in 2015.

The year of 2014 has been a strong one for Nova with many achievements, and as always, 2015 will bring fresh challenges and they will no doubt be preparing for those now.

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year. He’s Managing Director of Marchmedia and Director of Pacific Retail Management. 

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