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SCA CEO Grant Blackley defends 2Day FM as competitors ‘throw stones’

The CEO of 2Day FM’s parent company has defended the radio station’s strategy, which includes three commercial-free hours in the mornings, and the recent introduction of a music-focused show in the key breakfast slot after numerous failed programs.

Asked by Mumbrella how he could justify turning away ad dollars in a declining ad market, Grant Blackley said his competitors had been throwing stones at the decision for months – but contended it was in fact paying off.

Blackley: We don’t take these decisions lightly 

“I know our peers often call it out [and say] ‘They mustn’t be able to make money,’” Blackley said.

Blackley, however, pointed to today’s results for the 2019 financial year, which showed SCA grew its metropolitan radio revenue by 4.1%, as evidence that its approach was in fact working.

“Today’s result is clearly in contrast to that opinion. And that opinion I’ve heard from my peers for the last 18 months who are throwing stones at the strategy, but unashamedly we have had four consecutive quarters of growth above market, and I think we’ve had a very credible result in radio, and it’s all coming to fruition,” he told Mumbrella following the financial results release.

“We don’t take any of these decisions lightly. They’re very disciplined decisions after a lot of work and strategy behind them. And we don’t have to employ the exact same strategy in every market, and on every brand, in every state. We actually pride ourselves on adapting to the market conditions and how we optimise our brands.”

Blackley also threw his weight behind the new breakfast format on the station, which runs from 6am to 9am.

After cycling through six shows and 13 personalities between 2014 and 2019, 2Day FM announced it was shifting its focus to music in the morning.

2Day FM will win back audiences, Blackley predicted 

This meant the current iteration of the 2Day FM Breakfast show featuring Ed Kavalee, Grant Denyer and Ash London was dumped in favour of a music-focused show with Jamie Angel behind the microphone.

Blackley – who was keen to stress SCA has 78 breakfast shows across the country despite the focus on 2Day FM – said the music would give the station an edge, a point of difference, and ultimately, hopefully, a much-needed bump in the ratings.

“We’ve been looking at what we do in Sydney for quite some time. As you know we have trialled a number of combinations in talent in Sydney. Some of those have resonated more than others over time, and we’ve had some success and failure in that sector,” he said.

“But one thing was very clear over the last 18 months to two years, is the fact that we’ve been watching in work day where we started to play more music, less ads, and promote that fact, that in actual fact the data was telling us very clearly that consumers liked it. And over the last four to five years, we have had a demonstrable increase in terms of our share and listening because of that strategy. All we’ve done now is extend that strategy into breakfast, which was all by design.

Denyer, Kavalee and London were the most recent hosts to give 2Day Fm Breakfast a go

“As I say, we have been considering this for some time. And in doing that, it’s very clear that we have an alternative offering that has a higher point of difference.”

Blackley said when other stations were in commercial breaks or delivering a news update, 2Day FM Breakfast would be playing music. Ten to 12 songs would be on per hour, and when Angel is talking, Blackley said the audience would love it.

“Jamie Angel is known to the audience, the core audience of 2Day, from his great success in the past with 2Day FM,” Blackley said.

“But this unashamedly is a music-led strategy that creates a clear point of difference, and allows us to aggressively enter the market in a different way to our peers.

“And I think, hopefully, that creates an opportunity for us to create stronger ratings over time, and I think certainly the view that we’re getting from advertisers and agencies, is very positive. They see this as an opportunity for the audience to grow. They’ve been investing for the last couple of years in work day, and we’ve seen good success in terms of appreciation of the strategy and revenue that resulted from that, and this is just a natural extension.”

In the most recent radio ratings survey release, 2Day FM had a 3.1% share between 5:30am and 9am. Its share from 9am to 12pm on Monday to Friday is significantly higher at 6.1%, which jumps to 7.4% between midday and 4pm.

The next ratings are released on Tuesday 27 August, and will be the last for the Kavalee, Denyer and London show. The results released on 1 October will show Angel’s performance.

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