SCA may have been 'overly patient' with Rove & Sam

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 10 January 2017

Hot on the heels of Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) axing its Sydney 2dayFM breakfast show hosts Rove & Sam, radio industry insiders say they aren’t surprised the show has been cut, with sources telling AdNews ahead of the decision that it wouldn’t be long before SCA made changes to the schedule after a slew of poor ratings.

“They won't be happy with the ratings of Rove & Sam. They can't be looking at that and thinking it's been a success. No way will they stay on for next year,” one rival radio broadcaster told AdNews before Christmas.

The announcement slid out to the media on Friday, with SCA announcing The Em Rusciano Radio Show with Harley Breen as its new breakfast show hosts.

The network had been hoping it could cash in on the popularity of Sam Frost following her stint on The Bachelor where she won the hearts of young, female viewers, but a number of radio insiders told AdNews the chemistry between Frost, age 26, and her co-host Rove, age 42, didn't work from the get go, believing the age difference between the pair was a barrier on-air.

Following the show shake-up, AdNews spoke with media agencies to find out how the changes could impact the media planning and buying landscape.

'They just couldn't connect'

Chief investment officer at Carat Australia, Ashley Earnshaw, says Sydney breakfast is the most important radio session across the whole of FM radio. He says given the importance of the breakfast show to audiences and the commercial success of 2day and SCA more broadly, the news doesn’t come as a shock.

He added that if anything, SCA “may have been overly patient” to see growth from the show.

“A poor ratings performance in breakfast impacts the flow of audience into the rest of the day and hits the pockets of the radio publishers hard, as media agencies will match investment to audience scale,” Earnshaw says.

“Whilst hitting the dizzy heights of Kyle and Jackie O in terms of audience may be a challenge for 2day in breakfast, they can't settle for a 3-4 share and especially with the focused leadership that they have at present.”

He says this also shows how challenging it is to go head to head with talent like Kyle and Jackie O in Sydney, or Nova's Fitzy & Wippa.

“Rove & Sam just couldn’t connect with Sydney audiences at the scale that is needed and for a powerhouse like SCA,” Earnshaw added.

“As always Carat’s audio strategies match investment to audience levels, targeting and effectiveness. We now watch with interest at how the new breakfast show will perform.”

Breakfast is instrumental to success of a station

Atomic 212's Sydney general manager, Jenny Brown, says by comparison, radio hasn’t suffered the same levels of audience declines that the print industry has experienced, adding it’s a channel that consumers relate to and one that provides advertisers with a solid call to action that drives business results. She says for this reason, advertisers have continued to use radio as a core channel in their mix, but talent remains key.

“It is the talent that keeps a radio station afloat. In this instance, ratings were struggling and SCA have adjusted their business model accordingly,” she says.

“As with the ad model, flexibility is also key when it comes to talent. The breakfast program, in particular is instrumental to the success of a station. A strong breakfast team sets the agenda, drives ratings across the day, and is key in forming the station’s identity and building it’s brand – alongside the music itself of course.

“On paper, Rove & Sam are great and SCA gave them a fair trial – but it would have been frustrating to see it continue. Let’s see what the new talent can do.”

Brown adds that as well as having the ability to engage audiences and thereby deliver results, from a planning and buying perspective radio has always been seen as “one of the more flexible channels” given quick turnaround times are on offer, alongside a variety of opportunities to push the campaign further via in show integration and extensions across digital, social, sponsorships and events.

Rove & Sam now move into a nightly national show that airs Monday to Friday from 7pm to 8pm across The Hit Network’s 43 metro and regional radio stations, commencing nationwide on Monday 30 January.

“The decision came after Rove & Sam, along with SCA executives, took some time off over the summer and after review, decided that the best route forward for all was to move their show into another time slot,” an SCA statement said.

Em Rusciano and Harley Breen will take to the prime time breakfast slot at 6am on 23 January.

SCA has said it has no further comment to make on Rove & Sam.

See here for 'Another 'stellar year ahead?' Radio predictions for 2017'.

Have something to say about the radio scene or wish to comment? Contact online editor Pippa Chambers.

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