Survey #1: Why Paul Jackson “won’t blink” at extreme movement this book

Former Assistant Editor

The first GfK metro survey of the year was released this week, so what will the rest of 2019 look like for the major commercial networks?

Radio Today spoke with content directors from the major networks following the release of this week’s survey results, to get their take on the current state of play, as well as to find out how they think the rest of the year will pan out.

NOVA Entertainment group PD Paul Jackson reacts to survey that saw mixed results for the Nova Network but proved that smoothfm is a station for all seasons.

On Sydney

NOVA Entertainment had a mixed first survey of the year in Sydney, following some outstanding results in the back end of 2018.

While smoothfm rose even further to 9.7% (+0.6) to retain its place as #1 FM station overall among People 10+, Nova 96.9 took hits both overall and on Breakfast.

Fitzy & Wippa dropped -2.0 while Kate, Tim & Marty on Drive fell a whopping -3.2.

Jackson admits that its a less-than-ideal result for Nova, but isn’t reading too much into a survey that historically provides somewhat haphazard results.

“Nova came off one of its best survey periods ever in Surveys #7 and #8,” he says.

“Now you’re in school holidays and summer period, the book is underway and Australia Day is in there and so on. You can see this happen.

“For Nova there’s been some extreme movements in 18-24s and 25-34s, to the point that we won’t really blink. I’m not sure anyone’s going to believe that our Drive show is four share points down or that Smallzy is three share points down.”

Smoothfm on the other hand has developed into one of the country’s most consistent performers, both in Sydney and Melbourne. Jackson believes with certainty that the easy listening station will be a strong contender in the long term in both markets.

“Smooth really has had a brilliant run, and has added even more cume especially in the younger end as well,” Jackson says.

“Possibly the best book smooth has delivered since its inception in Sydney, and not far off that in Melbourne.

“The smooth format stations have such broad appeal when you break down the demos and I think it will continue to remain where it is.”

On Melbourne

With plenty of other stations losing share in Melbourne, Jackson was pleased to see consistency from Nova 100 and smoothfm Melbourne (despite the latter losing the mantle of #1 FM overall).

“KIIS took a dip there but everyone else is roughly on par,” he says.

“When you get into the demos our Breakfast shows look very solid. The smooth numbers 25-54 are exactly where they were before. We are where we should be.

“Fox is doing really well, there were some big storylines in that period. It’s a close run thing for smooth being #1 or not. A good solid start for Nova I think.”

Smooth rivals Gold FM fell overall this book, with Breakfast show Christian O’Connell also copping dropping to 6.8% (-1.6) despite a strong end to last year.

Jackson insists that O’Connell is still a threat and that listeners will come around to his style of show, similar to how long his smoothfm music-driven Breakfast shows took to bed in.

“At one glance you look at the 10+ numbers for Christian and he’s lost share but equally, if you go inside the numbers and go to 40-54, I think he’s one of the strongest.

“He’s got to grow a show over time to be fair to him. I think he’s come in and done a really good job. It takes time to get into the hearts and minds of people.

“I spent many years defending Mike & Jen, and Bogart & Glenn on our smooth Breakfast shows when people were saying ‘when are you going to get a show that is more like the other ones’.

As for KIIS FM’s new TVCs attacking Nova 100 and Fox FM?

“I think they’re hilarious,” Jackson says.

“It’s always a risky thing to be criticising your competition. I guess they must see an opportunity there, i’m not sure I see it myself.”

On Brisbane

With the return of 97.3FM to double digits this survey, Jackson is preparing for another congested year in Brisbane.

The competitive nature of the market means that Nova’s rise to the top with 12.9% (+1.6) all the more pleasing for Jackson.

“The standard is very high up there. You have to credit all the competition to Nova in that marketplace.

“There’s terrific output there. We’ve won cume and we’ve won share, you can’t ask much more than that.

“Ash, Kip & Luttsy with Susie have had a very focussed start to the year – very well planned. I can only commend them.

“We’ve got our best foot forward and we’ve got a great heritage and history in the marketplace.”

On Adelaide

Mix 102.3 remains the clear market leader ahead in Adelaide, but Jackson’s Nova 91.9 grew to 11.2% (+1.0) among People 10+.

He’s of the firm belief that Dylan & Haley on Breakfast are in for a strong year too, and that Mix won’t have it all their way in 2019.

“Listeners know them and love them already. We’ve taken a show and we’ve evolved it.

“We need more front and centre billing, we need more of Hayley’s hilarious personality coming through. It’s a great listen and they’ve started the year brilliantly.”

He’s also wary of Hit107’s own revitalised Breakfast show featuring two known local media personalities.

“Bec and Cosi on Hit107 were a much-anticipated entry into the marketplace. Therefore there’s a lot of listening to both stations, and they surge forward as well.

“I think there are now three strong shows competing across Nova, Hit and Mix.

“People will always give the new show a go to see what it’s like. In marketplaces where there’s been change, audiences are still making their mind up. “

On Perth

Nova 93.7’s Nathan, Nat & Shaun may have surrendered their Breakfast lead to Mix 94.5, but they are still rating a strong 13.2% (-1.7) and Jackson says it wouldn’t be fair on the team to expect record-breaking surveys over and over again.

“We’re in a fantastic position in Perth.

“After a record-breaking book last year we got very used to Nathan, Nat & Shaun being #1. But when you break down all the demos, even up to age 60, we’re still absolutely dominant.

“I don’t expect us to do record-breaking numbers in survey one, as we all get back into the groove of the year.

“It’s a very strong performance overall.”

So what does the rest of the year hold? Jackson knows there’ll be challenges in all markets, but believes that his stations are strong enough to hold their own across all markets.

“In this day and age, anyone is capable of challenging anyone on any given day. I don’t think we can be complacent.”

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