Paul Jackson confident that Nova will be back on top post-lockdown

The sixth Gfk radio survey for the year was a mixed result for Nova, with better performance in non-locked down cities over those in lockdown. Nova Entertainment's group program director Paul Jackson spoke to Mumbrella's Anna Macdonald on how Nova will return to form.

Paul Jackson has attributed the lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne as the reason behind Nova Entertainment’s “mixed bag” of results, after the results of the sixth Gfk radio survey for 2021 .

“I don’t believe there’s any underlying issues for Nova in Sydney,” said Jackson, “But certainly our share has been affected.”

Nova Entertainment group programme director Paul Jackson

In Sydney, both of Nova 96.9’s drive and breakfast shows saw a decline: Fitzy & Wippa down 1.2 points (to 4%) and Kate, Tim & Joel down 1 point (to 7.2%). Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Nova 100’s Chrissie, Sam and Browny rose 0.9 points to a 7.1% share, taking fourth place in the breakfast slot, despite the station overall dipping 0.4 points to 6.3%.

National head of investment at iProspect Ken Lam, adds: “I was surprised by Nova’s breakfast dip in Sydney driven largely against the P25-54 demo. Looking at how they’ve performed the few surveys, this looks to be only a small blip for Fitzy & Wippa’s thankfully, even though they’ve been Sydney breakfast mainstays in what seems like forever.”

In the non-locked down cities of Brisbane and Perth, Nova topped both markets in terms of overall share for the over 10s.

Jackson said: “Our breakfast radio listening, for us, is very much focused around Mum and Dad, the school drop-off and that kind of family-based broad entertainment that we’re making at breakfast time. That’s not there at the moment.”

Jackson continued: “If lockdown hadn’t happened, we would have continued to power on in Sydney, Melbourne, the way we were earlier this year. As we have done in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. For me, it’s a direct consequence of [lockdowns]. Not to say that we don’t look at everything and we work really hard every day, all the programming team and presenters do.”

The lockdowns are what Jackson feels has affected Nova’s results across several of its stations, from Smooth FM to the drive and breakfast shows.

UM Sydney trading director, Lorena Chiarella says Nova “did an incredible job in Perth and Brisbane”.

“Smooth took over in drive time in a market – and that might be a reflection of listeners and their new habits in lockdown and needing a bit of Zen by the time it hits 4pm.”

Activation director at Spark Foundry Cleo Lam, says Nova reclaiming top spot in Brisbane was “primarily driven by strong performance across their Breakfast and Drive offering”. While in Perth, Nova remained top-spot due to “consistent delivery across Breakfast and Drive”.

In terms of day-time listening, Smooth FM was the second FM station in Melbourne with a share of 6.8% and the equal first FM station in Sydney with a share of 8%.

On Smooth, Jackson commented: “Smooth’s really built around workplace listening historically, always has been. When you look in the current survey, at lunchtime onwards, it’s the number one FM banding around 10. We’re getting off to a very slow start of the day at the moment because people aren’t going into workplaces.

“There’s quite a slow build through mid-morning and we kind of hit our stride when people are having time to put the radio on at lunchtime. Therefore, there are just different behavioral patterns of listening happening at the moment.

“I think that’s really what’s happening in Sydney to a lesser extent in Melbourne. And then for us, in the other markets, we’ve got number one stations that have continued to power on through the year. I’m sure they would be different if we had lockdowns in Queensland or Western Australia.”

Jackson is confident that Nova will return to its non-lockdown patterns once restrictions begin to ease.

“If there was any issue, we’d be acting on it. In April and through May, we were doing a TVC, we brought back the Nova Boy, the character and the ad, we had a brilliant survey. And it was all going so well.”

Nova Entertainment’s mascot Nova Boy was revived back in April earlier this year, before Sydney and then Melbourne went back into lockdown.

Nova Boy

“We took an absolute bath in Melbourne last year. We took a bath and it was so bad, you had internal panic about things. And then you fast forward to the first part of this year, Melbourne was the number one breakfast show in April and May, and going brilliantly when we weren’t locked down. Then we’d go back into lockdown.”

“You can only play with the cards that are dealt,” emphasised Jackson.


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