SCA’s smart speaker experiment surpasses one million listens

Staff Writer

Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Grant Blackley says it’s “an incredibly exciting time to work in digital news delivery”.

He’s referring to the radio network’s concerted push into smart speakers and apps.

Two years ago SCA launched News on Demand, which has just hit a major milestone of more than one million listens.

SCA was the first commercial media company to provide news on-demand on smart speakers, as it continues to invest in digital news initiatives and innovation.

Its News on Demand service is available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa smart speakers and across the Hit and Triple M network apps.

In 2017, as smart speakers were launching in Australia, SCA repackaged its live broadcast news bulletins into on-demand ‘smart news’ bulletins.

These bulletins were initially launched just in metro markets, but News On Demand has since rolled out to nine locations including Townsville, Gosford, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

“We are thrilled with this milestone for our News on Demand service, that is proving more and more popular as Australians look to access local news when it suits them,” says Natasha Jobson, SCA’s head of news & current affairs.

“SCA’s on-demand news updates are up 107% year-on-year for our Hit and Triple M networks.”

SCA Head of News & Current Affairs

Natasha Jobson, SCA’s head of news & current affairs

SCA has also been successful in receiving a $250,000 Regional Grant Opportunity to fund the growth and adoption of on-demand digital formats.

SCA is using the grant to explore new content formats, distribution methods and business models and believes there is an opportunity to deliver quality regional news through audio-on-demand.

Blackley says SCA has always valued its localism and delivers local radio news across 67 areas in regional Australia.

“SCA airs nearly 2,500 news updates each week in its regional radio licence areas and our proposed acquisition of Redwave Media will add another 9 stations to our regional radio network in Western Australia,” he said.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to work in digital news delivery, which gives SCA a clear point of difference to attract and monetise new sources of listenership.”

As part of its regional innovation program, SCA has appointed two new cadet journalists in its regional radio and TV newsrooms.

Luisa Ausage has joined Albury is researching and writing stories for the radio news and practising on-air presentation. She recently started reading voice reports for SCA radio stations across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Ebony Abblitt is working in Hobart learning all aspects of television journalism including conducting interviews in the field, research, and writing news stories and in field presenting to camera. She has also written updates and tease lines for the nightly news bulletin.

“We are committed to growing and nurturing our journalism at SCA and the opportunity to take on two new cadets in regional areas helps achieve that aim. Luisa and Ebony are fast learners and have already demonstrated some great skills,” Jobson added.

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