SCA unveils new corporate strategy in wake of COVID-19

Former Editor & Content Director

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has detailed its new corporate strategy as part of its financial results presentation today.

The broadcaster said the strategy update was in response to changing consumer trends as a result of COVID-19, and will enable the company to remain agile over the coming five years.

The group’s new mission is: “To entertain, inform and inspire Australians. Anytime. Anywhere.”

Under this umbrella, its primary objectives between now and June 30, 2022 will be to:

  • Entertain, inform and inspire its audiences
  • Establish LiSTNR as Australia’s ultimate audio destination
  • Use its assets to help its clients succeed
  • Drive and embed new ‘Digital Audio First’ operating model

Looking into this financial year, SCA said it plans to double down and further grow its audio earnings – where a majority of its income already comes from.

It will do this, it said, via increased production and monetisation of digital audio, additional investment in the LiSTNR platform, further improving its content offering, and expanding the breadth of its offering through its digital radio spectrum.

SCA did note much of this planned growth trajectory was contingent on the public health response.

“Financial performance for the Group in FY22 may be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, with the pace of recovery being influenced by public health responses and government economic measures in each market in which the group operates,” it said in a report on the ASX today.

It also noted the risk of new products emerging which are more compelling than linear radio.

SCA said it would use its expertise and experience to mitigate this risk.

“SCA has core expertise in the development of market-leading content and constantly reviews the evolving distribution landscape to understand how it can continue to serve market-leading content through new and innovative products,” the report to investors said.

Its success in staving off competitors will also come down to LiSTNR, it said.

“LiSTNR will generate first-party data and it is this deep understanding of our signed-in audience that will give SCA enhanced ability to offer our clients targeted, engaged audiences at scale. This targeted advertising is enabled by an Instream advertising product, which also delivers it across the digital inventory of SCA’s parts such as SoundCloud.”

LiSTNR now sits at the ‘centre’ of the SCA business 

SCA added that further resources will be deployed towards the ongoing development of LiSTNR to ensure it is the market leader in terms of content depth and quality, product capability and digital sales.

These risk mitigation strategies also apply to the threat of global technology platforms altering the distribution landscape and global tech companies entering the audio space as content aggregators for consumers, it said.

SCA’s CEO, Grant Blackley, said the digital-first audio strategy has been ingrained across 65 offices, a couple of thousand employees, and will be enacted day-in, day-out as an operating mantra.

It’s also, he said, very different from the “one-to-many linear model” which has “served the company extremely well in the past”.

“That new statement means a lot for the company, because it goes to our digital posture, where we will place a dollar of investment tomorrow and today, and effectively what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years is continuing to spend and support our linear assets, but at the same time, build a stronger digital posture,” he said.

“And that digital posture comes through a stronger digital arm. It started off with streaming our stations through our apps. It moved through to PodcastOne and the identifying, curating, promoting and monetising 92 premium, original podcasts. And it went all the way through to what was a multi-faceted development by 19 offices over three years with about 190 people involved to the creation of LiSTNR, which actually houses those four different pillars.”

Blackley said as a result of this change, the SCA of today looks very different from the SCA of yesterday, and its digital posture is much stronger.

Blackley: Our new corporate strategy means a lot for the company 

“[Digital audio is] a high-value segment. It’s a growing marketplace. It’s accelerating in terms of consumer consumption as much as it is meeting the demand of advertisers for more data and insights at a very granular level,” he said.

“So we’re playing to both consumer appeal as much to the advertiser demand, and therefore, that’s why we’re confident in saying the growth that we’ve already achieved will go up by a further 75 to 100% over the course of the next 12 months, which is starting to become quite material to the business, and that’s our strategy and our responsibility in fact to our shareholders and to the board and we take that all very seriously.”

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