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Kyle and Jackie O are winning the audio wars for ARN in ‘uncertain advertising markets’

It only took a week for ARN to see the outsized impact that Kyle and Jackie O’s launch into the Melbourne market is having on the radio market.

In the face of tough advertising conditions, as well as “against a backdrop of reduced consumer spend, a slowing economy and a reduction in government advertising spend, which impacted revenues”, ARN has managed to deliver muted, yet pleasing results.

In a trading update, April YTD total advertising revenues finished 1% ahead of the prior comparative period, with a “consistent metro radio share” with digital audio revenues up 40% and regional revenue “in-line with the prior comparative period.”

Group revenues for ARN dropped 1% in 2023, with CEO Ciaran Davis noting, “there is no doubt the business was impacted by reduced advertising sentiment by clients.”

In the Australian market as a whole, metro ad revenue across the five major metropolitan markets was down 5.8% in the first quarter of 2024, according to figures released by Commercial Radio & Audio last Friday.

The total broadcast radio ad revenue was $146.8 million for the quarter, compared to $155.8 million in the first quarter of 2023.

These figures exclude digital audio streaming, and podcast revenue, and only cover the first three months of the year, so it’s not exactly comparing apples with apples, but it doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the wider industry.

ARN’s CEO and managing director Ciaran Davis was optimistic about the future of radio at today’s AGM, starting with “a reminder that the radio market is stable and underpinned by population and audience growth”, crediting “the engagement [the listeners] have with our personalities, the localism and connection we have with our communities, and the fact that we make it easy for them to consume our content across as many platforms as possible – free of charge.”

Underpinning this optimism is the sterling first-week results of Kyle & Jackie O’s launch into the Melbourne market on KIIS 101.1 at the end of April.

Davis points out that Melbourne, at $220 million in 2023, is the country’s most valuable radio advertising market, and that, historically, KIIS 101.1 hasn’t performed as well as KIIS 1065 in Sydney “from an audience perspective”, with roughly half the listeners, and a breakfast show drowning in sixth-place during 2023.

 

“A lot of preparation has gone into the launch, supported by a large marketing campaign that has just been rolled out, and we are confident in its success based on the some of the early proof points we already have,” Davis said.

Within a week of the duo hitting Melbourne airwaves, KIIS 101.1 streaming was up 63%, Kyle and Jackie’s O’s podcast listeners in Victoria were up 48%, and KIIS 101.1 saw a 95% leap in unique visitors to the website.

Most concretely, Chemist Warehouse came onboard as the show sponsors in Melbourne. Given the way radio ratings are done, ARN don’t have access to linear stats, but this digital lift must be indicative of a larger linear listenership.

The next radio ratings survey comes out June 4, where we will see the linear results of the first few weeks on Kyle and Jackie O in Melbourne. Even that won’t tell the whole tale – we will have to wait until late August, for the fifth survey, to see if they have truly settled into the country’s biggest radio market.

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