SCA’s Grant Blackley on the future of LiSTNR; hints of company name change

“Podcasts and radio streaming survive together, they’re companions together, and I think that’s the way that SCA will look at it,” said Southern Cross Austereo CEO, Grant Blackley, at an immersive Audio Amplified LiSTNR event in Sydney on Thursday.

“This is because you can create an audience on each platform, and then it becomes a megaphone for the other one,” he said. “If you have true audio streamers in the world, who only want to consumer podcasting, they are finding a radio in the house of LiSTNR and vice versa on the way through.”

Grant Blackley

Blackley, who just returned from a work trip from Europe and the United States to attend multiple audio conferences, said there were some key global trends that he believes would infiltrate the Australian market.

“What was made very clear, is that the podcasting world has grown and gone from strength to strength. Audio, in terms of consumption, is growing. The one thing that is universally spoken about on an international level is that audiences and consumption is growing,” said Blackley. “A lot of platforms we compete against consumption is declining, audio is not, it’s growing. Radio is resilient as it ever was, and the Smart Audio Report 2022, recently released, shows evidence of that fact.”

“Overarching, just the number of people, being at radio days in Europe, a couple of core things were prominent,” he said. “Diverse premium content. Is it the core of everything that we should do? We’re not here to make 5000 podcasts, we’re here to say join us for a curated premium experience that we can deliver across a range of topics. We are seeing that scripted drama is just blossoming overseas, the other thing that was directly linked to the scripted drama was visualisation. What the trend is showing us is that there needs to be an adaptation of visualisation of what you’re hearing.”

As for what consumers and clients can expect from the company, Blackley said: “You should expect from us is that we will continue to invest in LiSTNR, and we will continue to broaden our library which is premium by nature. In terms of audiences, I think we are going from strength to strength.”

He added that LiSTNR will continue to grow and adapt as consumer behaviours change, with more listeners tuning in digitally, while linear is on the decline.

“I think the fact now, that through LiSTNR we can offer not just one Triple M, but 46 Triple M’s that they can listen to anywhere at any time, on any device that they choose, is just outstanding. The point about the attention economy is people making content, and want to search for that content, they have to perform a function to get that content on demand.

“To get that content on demand means they’re going into that conversation activity with the intent of actually listening to that podcast, hearing that story, and affiliating themselves with that. That’s very different from the virtues of radio which are entertainment, information, one to many. You’re on a one-to-one basis and people sought out and perform a function to find you, engage you, and hopefully share it with a friend.”

Blackley hinted that a company name change may be on the horizon as SCA’s digital arm LiSTNR is the growth and centre of the business.

“When I joined the company seven years ago, there was a TV company called Southern Cross, and then a radio company called Austero, which then became Souther Cross Austero,” Blackley noted. “I said while I was in Europe that I could see a world in which in actual fact if LiSTNR is the centre of our universe and it is driving all of our growth and ambitions, maybe there’s a natural extension of the company being called LiSTNR and not SCA.”


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