SCA announces more than 1m listens for News on Demand

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has announced a milestone for its News on Demand smart speaker app as it further its investment in digital news.

The announcement:

Southern Cross Austereo hits more than one million listens for smart speaker and app News on Demand as it further invests in digital news

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has reached an important milestone, notching up more than one million listens to its digital News on Demand on smart speakers and apps, less than two years after launch.

SCA was the first commercial media company to provide news on demand on smart speakers, as it continues to invest in digital news initiatives and innovation. Its News on Demand service is available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa smart speakers and across the Hit and Triple M network apps.

In 2017, as smart speakers were launching in Australia, SCA seized the opportunity to repurpose its live broadcast news bulletins into ‘smart news’ bulletins available on demand on these devices. Initially launched in metro markets, News On Demand has now rolled out to nine locations including Townsville, Gosford, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

“We are thrilled with this milestone for our News on Demand service, that is proving more and more popular as Australians look to access local news when it suits them. SCA’s on demand news updates are up 107% year-on-year^ for our Hit and Triple M networks. Our 65-strong news team from across the country has worked incredibly hard to develop a quality news offering that transforms the way our audience accesses the best local audio news in Australia,” SCA Head of News & Current Affairs, Natasha Jobson, said.

SCA has also been successful in receiving a $250,000 Regional Grant Opportunity to fund the growth and adoption of on-demand digital formats. SCA is using the grant to explore new content formats, distribution methods and business models and believes there is an opportunity to deliver quality regional news through audio on-demand.

SCA CEO, Grant Blackley, said: “SCA has always valued its localism and delivers local radio news across 67 areas in regional Australia. SCA airs nearly 2,500 news updates each week in its regional radio licence areas and our proposed acquisition of Redwave Media will add another 9 stations to our regional radio network in Western Australia.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to work in digital news delivery, which gives SCA a clear point of difference to attract and monetise new sources of listenership. We have 900 minutes of news per week developed specifically for smart speakers and we are looking to develop longer form news stories and exclusive interviews for on demand. It also underscores our commitment to a voice activated digital future.”

SCA will be exploring different methods to produce news content, including partnering with existing local news publishers to provide stories in different formats and platforms, as well as educating consumers about the availability of the news service.

SCA Research & Insights’ research* has shown people living in regional Australia place a high value on local news. It was nominated as the most important type of news and information, ahead of breaking news, weather and national news. In addition, six in ten people actively seek out local news on a daily basis. Radio was the most popular platform to seek out news and information on 83%, ahead of free-to-air television on 61%.

As part of its regional innovation program, SCA has also appointed two cadet journalists in its regional radio and TV newsrooms.

Luisa Ausage has joined Albury researching and writing stories for the radio news and practicing on-air presentation. She has recently started reading voice reports for SCA radio stations across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Ebony Abblitt is working in Hobart learning all aspects of television journalism including conducting interviews in the field, research, and writing news stories and in field presenting to camera. She has also written updates and tease lines for the nightly news bulletin.

“We are committed to growing and nurturing our journalism at SCA and the opportunity to take on two new cadets in regional areas helps achieve that aim. Luisa and Ebony are fast learners and have already demonstrated some great skills,” Jobson said.

Sources: * SCA Research & Insights’ News study included 2,339 people aged 18+.

^ SCA News AoD Report w/c 21st October, 2019

Source: Southern Cross Austereo media release


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