Smooth puts ratings drop down to sport and strong marketing by other stations

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 12 July 2019
Peter Clay, Nova Entertainment head of programs for Nova 96.9 and Smooth FM

Smooth FM’s ratings drop can been put down to the winter sporting period and other stations’ marketing, says Peter Clay, head of programming at Smooth FM.

The fourth radio ratings survey showed a decline for the station across both Sydney and Melbourne for overall listenership, as well as in the breakfast and drive time slots.

However, Clay says the results this week weren’t a surprise and that the winter sporting craze in Melbourne played a role. Smooth had been worse hit in Melbourne, where it fell by 1.5% in overall listenership, causing it to slip to fourth place from second, and by 2.2% for breakfast, causing it to move from third to sixth place.

“There are definitely factors that come into play with each radio station having ups and downs,” he says.

“Sport affected the Melbourne market, more so than Sydney which doesn’t get hit by the sport as much. Sport definitely overtakes the community in Melbourne so it’s not a surprise.

These survey results follow a strong start to the year for the station. In the second survey results released in April, Smooth FM breakfast leapfrogged to second place from fifth, helped by a 1.7% increase in listeners.

“When you start to have a picture from 2012, when Smooth went to air, to now, you see the solid growth and hold in those figures and you know that just a one-off survey dip may only last that survey,” Clay says.

He also noted that the marketing of other stations factored into the survey’s results, but says there wouldn’t be any knee-jerk reactions at Smooth.

“We’re constantly evolving our marketing strategy, we don’t just sit there and let it play out” Clay says.

“In Melbourne if you drive from the airport to the city it’s back to back billboards of various stations, even half a building is painted with one of the stations on there,” he says.

“You know, they really markets their talent, more so than the stations. We definitely market the stations for Smooth because we’re growing the brand which has only been around since 2012.

“They’re still a lot of people that are yet to discover Smooth, we know the potential of the brand has a lot more growth in the coming years.”

Clay expects the numbers to climb after the winter sporting period with the station set to bring back Smooth Secret Sound next week, along with the return of a big name later in the year.

With Smooth FM having a cumulative audience of 1,051,000 these results, Clay says the goal is to keep the listeners around longer to get better share numbers.

“We have a bit of work to do in regards to hooking them in and keeping them around longer and that should get some incredible share numbers like we enjoy on the weekends,” Clay says.

“People seem to enjoy Smooth Fm on the weekends because we have incredible cume numbers and incredible shares in both Melbourne and Sydney.”

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