Grant Blackley says COVID-19 has accelerated consumer trends that will play to SCA’s strengths

While Grant Blackley admits the impact of COVID-19 on business has been “severe”, the CEO of Southern Cross Austereo is spouting a positive outlook as the economy recovers thanks to the changing nature of how audiences access audio.

Speaking at SCA’s AGM, Blackley said COVID has “accelerated consumer trends that will play to our strengths and strategy as economic activity progressively recovers”.

SCA CEO Grant Blackley

Blackley’s address largely focused on the growth in digital consumption of digital audio products, highlighting that SCA audiences listened to 10.5m hours of audio in September (up 31% YoY).

Hit and Triple M radio show live streaming was up 58%, with 9.1 million active live streams (a new high), while smart speaker listening grew 62% YoY to 2.3m hours.

Blackley said SCA is determined to convert the “positive trends in consumption of our products” into “strong commercial outcomes”.

Revenue fell 18.2% for the financial year ending June 30, 2020, but SCA still reported a profit excluding significant items of $34.1m and an underlying net profit of $35.8m thanks to cost-cutting and equity raising measures.

Cost-cutting saw the Hit Network shed 19 regional breakfast shows in August, but in his AGM address Blackley said SCA remains committed to localism.

“Out Triple M and Hit Network radio stations are strongly connected to their cities, towns and communities,” he said, pointing to SCA’s purchase and rebrand of 10 new stations from Redwave network.

On the metro side of things, Blackley didn’t shy away from the chronically underperforming 2Day FM Sydney, revealing the station will have a new Breakfast show in 2021 after a “temporary” move to a music-driven format featuring Jamie Angel this year.

“The highest content priority in our radio network is to establish a new and successful Breakfast show on 2Day FM in Sydney,” he said.

After SCA confirmed last month it would be eligible for the government’s altered JobKeeper scheme, Blackley re-iterated an expectation that the company will receive $12m in payments between September 28, 2020 and January 3, 2021.

“However, with advertising bookings strengthening, we expect SCA will not be eligible… beyond that date,” he said, before revealing SCA expects revenues for the next quarter to improve and only be around 10% to 15% lower than the same period in 2019.

“SCA has strong and trusted platforms to deliver our content and our advertisers’ messages to mass audiences in brand-safe environments around Australia,” he concluded.

“Our platforms and insights are enabling us to target valuable segments of our audiences, creating higher value for our advertisers and premium returns for SCA.”


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