Another 'stellar year ahead?' Radio predictions for 2017

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 12 December 2016

There’s been some major developments across the radio landscape in 2016, particularly towards the end of the year.

SCA's multimillon dollar on-air duo Hamish and Andy revealed 2017 would be their last year on air; Spotify zoned in on radio's audience – which wasn’t to everyone’s taste and Nova bolstered its podcast efforts as well as its Red Room live music venture.

As part of its grand plan to automate the radio ad buying process, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) revealed Audionet as the industry partner which will help kickstart the project. Other big news saw RadioApp, a venture also spearheaded by industry body CRA, launch on 30 November. The offering allows listeners to tap into 250 Australian radio stations via their mobile phones.

The radio ratings surveys provided a mixed bag of results across the major networks with SCA's 2DayFM breakfast duo Sam and Rove struggling to move the dial early in thier first year, but gaining later on six. Nova's Fitzy and Wippa wobbled breakfast rival WSFM in May; and Sydney Smooth had a stong showing in August. Hamish and Andy rocketed up in drive during survey seven.

However, just as 2016 draws to an end we checked in with some of the industry’s key players to find out what lies ahead next year. The final ratings of 2016 are due tomorrow (12 December) and those numbers will hold until March when the first ratings of 2017 are released.  

Australian Radio Network’s CEO Tony Kendall says:

As a medium, radio will continue to maintain its dynamic connection with audiences with innovative entertainment content delivered across multiple platforms. The industry needs to keep leveraging creativity in content to drive even more targeted integrated solutions whilst also further leveraging the data opportunities that will evolve across on-air, digital and social platforms. At ARN we will further build our entertainment offering across the Kiis, Pure Gold and Edge networks with audience insight at the core. We’ll continue to invest in iHeartRadio to extend our brands’ reach and customer experience to include more events and money can’t buy moments.

Nova Entertainment CEO Cathy O’Connor says:  

We will increasingly see radio operators come together to advance the industry. This will lead to a more cohesive positon and new initiatives from radio on streaming, measurement, insights and the promotion of radio. Given the strong performance of the FM networks expect big investments in branding and content. I also expect increasing availability of addressable audiences as broadcast radio operators get more sophisticated in managing their data from the abundant digital touchpoints with listeners.

Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner says:

Commercial radio will be at the forefront of innovation in 2017. There will be continued growth in audience and revenue aided by the introduction of an industry-wide automated holdings system to facilitate agency interaction with radio stations’ traffic systems, further relevant research into radio’s role and influence and continued development of DAB+ digital radio. The radio industry’s new free RadioApp, allowing listeners to stream 250 Australian radio stations will allow access to live and local Australian radio anytime anywhere. 

President of Dentsu Aegis Network’s investment arm Amplifi, Greg Brown says:

We predict another strong year for radio; given the progress the industry has made in automating measurement and the ability for the talent to continue to capture the hearts of audiences. To ensure growth over the coming months, radio will need to continue to use the internet to its advantage and continue the evolution towards a programmatic trading model. Delivering one to one messages to audiences will become even more important to ensure this channel remains relevant in an ever evolving world. 

Publicis Media Exchange MD Sarah Keith says:

Radio will continue to hold its role in 2017 as the undisruptable medium as it has done for the last 100+ years, unapologetically not a fad but a remarkable, consistent survivor. Metro radio saw revenue growth (+6% Jan – October SMI Dataminer) driven by the election and Olympics in 2016. Whilst we are expecting that to slow this year due to a 'special event free' 2017, radio will maintain its role in a tumultuous fragmenting media landscape."

Carat chief investment Officer Ashley Earnshaw says:

Radio will undergo a significant step change in the way it is bought, sold and measured. 2017 will be a key year as the industry collaborates towards future growth and takes advantage of increased technological change in consumption, targeting and automation on the transaction side. Some things remain a constant, with the talent as a differentiator and the emotional connection of radio keeping it strong in a world of streaming, apps and in car technology. We expect revenue to grow. 

Bohemia's chief investment officer Theo Zisoglou says:

Radio has had a stellar year when it comes to agency revenue growth in 2016 and there is no reason that trend cannot continue into 2017. The radio networks seem to have the sell right – a cost efficient, high reaching medium, client service focused teams, and with the announcement of an automated holdings process across all CRA members, an industry that can seemingly work united to propel their medium forward. CRA have got that part extremely right – an automated system that can be integrated to the current systems of all their members which will evolve into a transactional system that will make life easy for media buyers to do business across all radio networks at the same time. This will then leave more time to work up the bigger innovative and integrated pieces of work which will drive more revenue in for the Radio industry.

Director of sales Australia and New Zealand at Spotify, Andrea Ingham says:

In 2017 audio streaming will continue to scale at great strides. Already, Spotify has seen phenomenal growth since our launch four years ago with comScore reporting over 4.2 million unique visitors to the platform in the month of October alone (up from three million earlier this year). Ubiquity will also continue to be a focus, especially as users continue to shift away from traditional music consumption methods. In-car, in particular, will be imperative in achieving that ubiquity and with technological advancements that allow for more integrated in-car streaming experiences, this will open us up to a whole new audience and a new set of consumption insights from our existing users. 

Pandora ANZ director of business development Rick Gleave says:

At a recent ARIA Masterclass, CEO Dan Rosen told his audience that the future of the Australian music industry was streaming in 2017. With closer working relationships with music labels and new product offerings for listeners next year, Pandora will have a strong story to tell. The power of data in streaming offers a far more compelling advertiser offering that traditional radio and data led mobile advertising will also shift to a ‘service’ offering rather than one to all.

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