Nova’s Paul Jackson on the impact of Nova Boy on upcoming radio ratings

After radio's second survey of the year, Nova's group programme director Paul Jackson chats to Mumbrella's Zoe Wilkinson about the impact of Nova Boy and the network's first campaign of the year will have on it's key programs.

For Nova’s group programme director Paul Jackson, it’s been a period of happy coincidences. The 20th anniversary of the network coincided with the return of Nova Boy in its first marketing push for the year, which also launched the day after survey two of GfK’s radio ratings was released.

And that campaign could not come at a better time. As the last of the commercial networks to begin their marketing for the year, Jackson is confident that throwing the support of Nova Boy behind its key programs across the network will smooth any bumps in the road the network has experienced in its start to the year and keep its rising stations on an upward trajectory.

“We didn’t want to go too early this year with our marketing because we weren’t sure how the year was going to pan out. We’d had a little lockdown in Sydney and Melbourne over Christmas and the start of the year, and we just wanted to take our time to get into the year before we went,” Jackson says.

“People want what’s new and what’s exciting, especially since we’ve all been sort of stuck in a routine, and that becomes ever more important. But then the nostalgia part of it from the Nova brand point of view with Nova Boy, it’s just that he’s such a loved character and always was, and was there at the start. So it is kind of coincidental and ties in nicely with all that.”

One of those bumps is Brisbane, which lost its overall lead in the market that it grabbed in survey six of 2020, following a hiatus in the ratings due to COVID. In its place, B105 rushed to the top with an 11.1% share, 0.5 points ahead of Nova in third and just 1.1 points ahead of Triple M in fifth.

“In terms of share, gosh it’s tight. The last five, six surveys we’ve probably delivered some of our best ever numbers and we’ve been consistently number one with the breakfast in ten plus. But having said that, a lot of good shows and competition, we take nothing for granted and you know it’s going to be tight,” Jackson says.

“I think B105 obviously have seen a benefit, probably from the advertising they’re doing, and on Matt, Stav and Abby. So that makes it a dynamic marketplace and you’re not more than a point at this stage between all of those stations and I’m sure that will continue to move around.

“You’d expect to see Nova possibly move back into first place in the coming surveys, especially with the amount of marketing that the radio stations are going to get in terms of support. And there’ll be an ebb and flow that will probably reflect that throughout the year.”

In breakfast, Ash, Kip and Luttsy with Susie O’Neill also lost their lead and drive juggernaut Kate, Tim and Joel kept their lead but lost another 1.5 points on top of the 1.1 points they lost in the previous survey. Despite previously reaching a 15% share, Jackson says calling 12 or 13% the ‘normal number’ for the show is still an outstanding result.

“There’s nothing to complain about the show, it’s absolutely top class I think. Evolving in September last year with Joel Creasey coming in who’s been absolutely outstanding, the new fresh dynamic between Kate, Tim and Joel is outstanding and it’s reflected across the board,” Jackson says.

“We’ve seen a lot of advertising for other drive shows, particularly Carrie and Tommy on SCA, so the backdrop for us is they’ve done this well, this point of the year, and now we’ll go market Kate, Tim and Joel and their respective breakfast shows around the country, and that bodes very well for us.”

Last survey signalled a return of listeners to music-led programming, after audiences surged for 3AW and ABC in 2020. This survey continued the trend, with Jackson stating ‘normal service has resumed’.

“I think for Nova, we were probably disproportionately affected by COVID in terms of losing our listeners to talks stations and other places as well. I think that’s the type of audience Chrissie, Sam and Browny have got as well, certainly probably spend a bit of time across the week tuning to some of the news and talk stations,” he says.

“But I was just very mindful that our marketing for Nova starts this weekend. Up until now we haven’t done much and certainly our competition have been doing a lot. So we were just sort of sitting that out. We saw a lot of Fox advertising and TV and outdoor and possibly expected them therefore to go a bit better.

“So with the backdrop of everything that was going on around us, this is an exceptionally good result for Nova in Melbourne.”

Nova Entertainment group programme director Paul Jackson

In particular, Jackson is hoping marketing will have a big effect on Chrissie, Sam and Browny, after the Melbourne breakfast team jumped to second on FM this survey with a 7.9% share.

“I think in the coming weeks we’ll be advertising them and Kate, Tim and Joel and Nova Boy with our TVC and everything we’re going to be doing beyond that, so they have certainly a very great chance,” Jackson asserts.

“And if I go back, in survey one or two last year they were first or second, and for most of the year before they were first or second as well so they’ve been in situ doing the breakfast show here for five or six years now, they’re obviously very well established in the market place, but I would expect them going forward to always continue being one of the top couple of shows.”

Also on this up is Adelaide breakfast duo Ben and Liam, who were down 1.8 points last survey in a result Jackson described as characteristic ‘bouncing around’ that takes place in the first book of the year. Recovering 1.9 points to an 9.8% share this time around, Jackson says the result is “more in line with what we would be expecting them to deliver” and that “there’s every chance of being back on top” like the duo were for a stint in 2020.

The greater achievement for Jackson is the overall performance of Nova 91.9 and AM station Five AA.

“It’s a different dynamic in each of these marketplace and there’s no safe Smooth-type station in Adelaide, so you’re really going to look at a Nova and SAFM, and Mix switched up all the older end with a lot of heavy listening and stuff,” Jackson says.

“So I always expect Mix to have – a big variety station – a really good share in the marketplace so it’s more pleasing to see us be more significantly ahead of SAFM as a direct under 50, if you like, competitor.”


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