Nova’s Paul Jackson reassured by penultimate radio ratings for 2021

Nova Entertainment's group program director Paul Jackson is reassured by the most recent round of radio surveys. Jackson speaks to Mumbrella's Anna Macdonald on his confidence going into Survey 8, the strength from Nova's consistency, and how Ed Sheeran has helped brand recall in the 18 to 24 demo.

The results from the Gfk radio ratings Survey 7 have made Nova Entertainment’s group program director Paul Jackson more confident than ever that Nova will see a strong end to 2021.

“This is reassurance,” says Jackson, “Actually, I would probably feel more confident now.”

Nova Entertainment group program director Paul Jackson

Similar to the discussion with Mumbrella on Survey 6, Jackson indicated that there is a pattern to radio listening in locked-down and non-locked down markets.

“We’re finishing the survey period while schools and life is still going on in December,” continues Jackson. “We finish at the end of this month. If you had a couple more weeks in December it would probably be more helpful for all stations, you get an even clearer picture. I’m sure in December we’ll be busy on the road. People will be out, going to meet with their friends, the Christmas shopping and all that. There’ll be much more activity and things happening in the schools around the third week of December.

“So we’ve got this snapshot of November. I feel super confident actually from the Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth numbers where life’s more normal. Seeing that kind of bounce-back in Sydney and Melbourne as well, it will be a very strong finish to the year.”

Nova 106.9 topped the Brisbane radio ratings again, while in Adelaide Nova’s FIVEaa recovered 1.7 percentage points to land on a 10% overall share.

In Sydney, Nova 96.9 had 5.4 percent of people over 10, up 0.7 points and Smoothfm 95.3 dropped 0.1 points to 7.9 for people over 10.

There was a 2 point decline in Sydney for people 10 to 17. However, the most significant jump was in the 18-24 demographic, with a 7 point jump to 20.4%, which Jackson attributes to Ed Sheeran’s live-streamed Red Room performance.

“In quite a few of our markets today, 18 to 24, were really good. They grew up five and a bit points in Melbourne 18 to 24 although, still up in Melbourne on 10 to 17. We were doing one of our big promotions. Sometimes you can almost read this in the numbers, normally not, but in the month of October, our big kind of tactic for the network was Ed Sheeran doing the Red Room for us.

“The people that are going to be most passionate for that are in that kind of 20 something to teenagers area,” says Jackson. “So it’s a bit of a surprise… that’s pretty much why it produced any growth for 18 to 24s because that gives you big recall. If you were doing an online survey or radio survey and you were in that demo, the first thing you’re probably thinking is what’s that station that does Ed Sheeran’s Red Room? That’s probably why it’s happened, certainly in view of our markets.”

The overall cume audience of Nova did drop slightly from Survey 6 to Survey 7, from 3.446 million to 3.352 million but Jackson says that does not ring any alarm bells.

“Nova 100 is, for instance, 70,000 down in cume and Smooth is 33,000 down in Melbourne. So, there’s 100,000 down in cume overall coming out of those stations that have performed very well, and that’s kind of across the board, really.”

Jackson continues: “We’re in line with everything else, I would think that is going to recover totally… I think that’s just the market, really.”

iProspect national head of investment Ken Lam made a similar observation, stating: “Not surprised to see cume audiences across morning and afternoon sessions across most commercial stations coming back down slightly, as Sydney and Melbourne slowly return ‘back to normal’ with recent end of lockdowns in each respective markets. Whilst most workers are still encouraged to work from home where possible, we should see this trend continue with early morning and peak hour commute increasing, in turn lifting audiences across Breakfast and Drive.”

The key for Nova this time around is consistency, says Jackson.

“We’ve got huge brand loyalty, we’ve got highly experienced directorship all in markets, they’ve all been there a number of years. Kate, Tim and Joel [have been] together for 18 months, we changed one of the characters but the show went to even greater heights. That’s really special in terms of how it could go.”

Creasey replaced Marty Sheargold on Nova Entertainment’s national drive show back in August 2020.

Jackson continues: “Audiences [often] don’t buy into it. Joel Creasey’s been sensational, the three of them together are brilliant.”

“We have a strong brand proposition,” Jackson concludes.


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