Hamish and Andy’s return to boost Hit Network despite weakness in Sydney Breakfast show

Hamish & Andy return to the SCA's airwaves this afternoon

Hamish & Andy return to the SCA’s airwaves this afternoon

The return of Hamish Blake and Andy Lee to a full-time radio show this afternoon is set to kickstart a major national ratings battle in Drive time, with senior media buyers predicting the pair will boost overall audience and revenue share for the struggling Hit Network.

However, buyers also warned Hit’s owners Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) needs to look at its “talent problem” in the key Breakfast program on Sydney station 2DayFM, after hosts Dan Debuf and Maz Compton slumped to a 2.4 per cent audience share last survey.

“Hamish & Andy will be good for SCA,” said Ashley Earnshaw, head of investment of Carat Sydney. “They will grow audience in drive but I don’t think the success of Drive is going to have a huge impact on Breakfast.

“Something is going to have to change in Breakfast – that show in Sydney is their most critical session.”

The return of Hamish & Andy this afternoon sees the start of a three-way national battle in the timeslot, with their show up against Nova’s established trio of Kate Ritchie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell and KiisFM’s Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek who launched at the start of this year.andy lee radio show tweet

Whilst rivals, including Australian Radio Network boss Ciaran Davis, have been keen to talk down the Hamish & Andy’s return to the timeslot they dominated for three years by describing it as a different Drive time market, the media buyers Mumbrella spoke to noted that Hamish & Andy were still powerful brands.

“The radio market has changed a lot in the last five years, but Hamish & Andy have maintained a high profile through TV,” said Aaron Hampson-Smith senior manager, investment & activation at MEC.

“They (Hamish & Andy) were pretty dominant back in the day when they were on-air full time. In terms of the Drive teams that are on the other stations, it will be an interesting battle.

“We’ll be watching to see if they can regain that sought of dominance.”



ZenithOptimedia’s chief investment officer Anthony Ellis argued the burgeoning TV career of the duo could broaden Blake and Lee’s consumer appeal and widen the audience that will tune in this afternoon to check out their show.

“For Southern Cross there is no doubt this is positive. They are great talent who have worked for them before,” said Ellis.

“It is an interesting play. They moved from radio to TV with the Gap Year and that pulled some good numbers – it would have been a broader demographic – but would have built on their brand on radio.”

MEC’s Hampson-Smith agreed: “They are tried and tested. It’s not like they disappeared for five years, by maintaining that profile they will have a following.

“Clients have a confidence that they will maintain an audience the question will be how big that audience will be.”

Many is the industry will also be looking to see what impact Hamish & Andy can have on the broader HitFM brand and in particular it’s Sydney station 2Day Hit104.1FM and it’s breakfast program.

In recent months, and amid languishing ratings on 2DayFM, management at the station asked buyers to reserve judgment until the pair return to the air.

Dan & Maz

Dan & Maz

ZO’s Ellis said he thought the pair would boost both the HitFM brand and Sydney station 2Day by providing it a “halo”, but also said SCA was in a difficult position in regards to replacing Dan & Maz after last year dumping breakfast trio Jules Lund, Merrick Watts and Sophie Monk.

“I think Hamish and Andy will have a halo effect on the station itself,” he said. “They will lift the share of the drive time audience and within that it gives them a platform to promote other shows within the station.

“As for Breakfast, there is no doubt since (Kyle and Jackie O’s) move SCA has been really up against it. They absolutely need to look at whether (Breakfast) is working but I also suggest that there has been a lot of changes and they probably wouldn’t want massive, massive changes.

“They need some stability but they also definitely need to review their talent.”

In the wake of the last radio survey SCA’s bosses themselves acknowledged problems in Drive, with content head Guy Dobson telling Mumbrella: “Obviously there is a lot of stuff we can fix and we are working on that.

“We are not stupid to sit here and say we got it right – every single day we are working on how to Sydneyfy the breakfast show, we are working to breakfastfy the Breakfast show.”

Hampson-Smith said one of the key selling point of Hamish & Andy and the other radio Drive programs, was that they were national propositions.

“Hamish & Andy are big personalities for SCA to build the station (2Day) and turn it around”,  he said. “The ratings have drawn headlines but nationally it hasn’t been as bad a performance.

“In Sydney it will help them build the profile of the network and hopefully get people switching back to 104.1. What the Drive show does give them is a national platform for advertisers.

“While 2Day is obviously a priority for SCA, what a strong Drive show gives them, with big personalities etc. who work with brands and there is a good commercial benefit on a national basis.”

Nic Christensen 

The next set of radio ratings are released tomorrow morning at 9.30am. See all the ups and downs and reaction on Mumbrella.


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