ARN's Ciaran Davis on the Kyle & Jackie O and Christian O'Connell deals

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 23 November 2023
Ciaran Davis; image supplied by CRA.

Weeks of speculation about the future of radio's hottest on-air talents has ended with Kyle & Jackie O re-signed with ARN in a reported $200 million deal that will see the duo remain on air with the network until the end of 2034.

Ciaran Davis, ARN Media CEO, said Kyle & Jackie O have demonstrated their ability to generate content that generates audiences. 

“We’ve obviously had a very close relationship for the last 10 years and they have done a magnificent job over that time of introducing new and younger audiences to their show,” he said. 

“Of radio breakfast shows, they’re one of the best of the world, keeping themselves relevant and keeping the content very engaging and if you look around the world, there are plenty of radio hosts who go on long into their 70s and 80s, so there's plenty of life left."

Despite the exposure of the duo in other mediums – such as Kyle Sandilands judging Australian Idol, Australia’s Got Talent and The X Factor Australia or the duo hosting season 8 of Big Brother Australia – Davis said that Kyle and Jackie O’s “first love” has always been radio.

"They enjoy the medium, they enjoy working together, they have fun with the team and despite all these new forms of technology coming through, they keep coming back to their first love, which is radio,” Davis told AdNews.

Davis said that ARN is just focusing on making Melbourne a success for the show - where it's expanding to - before thinking about moving into other markets.

“That’s going to be a challenge and it's going to take a lot of hard work by everybody involved,” he said.

“I think you’ve got to be careful [moving into other markets]. I think there aren't many shows in the world who could do that; Kyle and Jackie O is one we believe could do it. 

“There's a lot of challenges in terms of trying to create content that's engaging to different parts of Australia and that's probably why it hasn't been attempted as much, but if anybody can do it, Kyle and Jackie O can.”

The pair weren’t the only radio hosts to get extensions from the audio company – ARN also handed Melbourne-based Christian O’Connell a new contract until 2029. 

Davis said ARN took a brave move taking O’Connell from his “record show” in London and bringing him to Melbourne back in 2018. 

“He's done a phenomenal job there,” Davis told AdNews. 

“We're very pleased with the relationship we have with Christian; he loves Melbourne, he loves broadcasting there and as we were doing Kyle and Jackie O’s [extension], it became obvious that we should secure the other number one breakfast show we have.”

With two marquee shows in the one city - The Kyle & Jackie O Show’s has been the #1FM breakfast show for 39 surveys straight, while The Christian O’Connell Show has held the title of Melbourne’s #1FM breakfast show for 27 out of the last 28 surveys – there could be a possibility for the two shows to take listeners away from the other, but this isn’t something ARN is concerned with.

“From our perspective, it's different content, different audiences and different ways to monetise it on top of that,” Davis said.

“We've had a great track record of 101.7 WSFM and KIIS 106.5 in Sydney and Jonesy & Amanda and Kyle and Jackie O, so we’re not concerned there.”

Looking at the ad market next year, Davis said he anticipates it to remain short. 

“It's a short market but we're prepared for that in terms of how we're managing our yield and sales strategies into Christmas and New Year, but I think the shortness of the market is going to stay,” Davis told AdNews.

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