Starpower – Who Is Going To Win The Great Drive Battle of 2015 ?


The lineups for the FM drive shows have now been released.

FM drive has never been as competitive as it will be next year; Hamish & Andy, Hughesy & KateMarty Tim & Kate, Merrick & ( probably ) Paul Murray. And on AM in Sydney you have the formidable Ben Fordham and in Melbourne Tom Elliot, with an as yet unnamed new Drive show on Triple J.

The FM shows that have been announced all consist of brilliant A grade talent, they are strong, proven combinations and strong brands in their respective markets, and nationally.

The signing of Hughesy and Kate is another coup for ARN, and one which will certainly help the newly branded KIIS power in the ratings next year. Furthermore, should KIIS Melbourne secure a strong Breakfast lineup, it would be likely to lead to the station being #1 FM in that market.

It is hard to predict which drive show will win, and in fact it is likely to vary market to market.

Of course the ‘ win ‘ is not just about ratings. These shows provide strong revenue opportunities – through sponsorship and integration – for clients and their brands.

As always, whilst the talent lineups and brands are strong it will get down to execution. Whichever team works the hardest, is promoted well, has the strongest, most focused production and programming team behind them, and delivers the most compelling content week after week will emerge the winner.

These new drive lineups again reinforce the quality of radio in Australia. You simply don’t get that level of quality talent shows anywhere else in the world.

It’s important that radio provides this sort of high level of quality content and entertainment to remain competitive.

In car listening is so important, therefore breakfast and drive are now even more crucial than ever.

The first highly successful FM national drive show was Martin Molloy, who started nearly 20 years ago in 1995, it is hard to consider it now, but at the time a personality drive show was considered revolutionary and risky.

Former Austereo Group PD Greg Smith was the first to identify the opportunity of drive shows as differentiators in competitive markets.

Greg was right, and I first heard the concept of ‘ personality ‘ drive shows on-air when Scott Shannon and his breakfast team moved to WPLJ drive in NYC in the early nineties.

However, these new drive shows and their influence on a stations overall ratings will still largely depend on the performance and ratings of the all important breakfast show.

It takes a lot more ratings points in drive to build the stations overall share than it does points in breakfast, although a strong drive show provides a great ‘bookend’ with a strong breakfast show.

So, despite the undoubted quality and calibre of these drive shows, Breakfast remains critical.

So who are the winners?

The big winner will be the talent. Unprecedented huge  fees are being paid to secure these highly sought after, very talented radio personalities. Some shows costing many, many millions of dollars, with Hamish & Andy rumoured to be receiving in excess of $8 million between them.

The other winners are the talent managers who earn a percentage on each of their talents salaries and endorsements. Those commissions would range somewhere between $50,000 to $1/2 million.

Radio clients will be winners, with new platforms and better environments for their brands message .

It has even been suggested that next years stronger talent lineups will actually help grow the radio revenue ‘pie’

The biggest winner of all though will be radio.

The higher the quality of the offering to listeners the more relevant the medium remains with listeners…and that’s a good thing for our industry.

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

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