‘There’s place for both collaboration and competition’: NZME’s Matt Headland on the state of radio

There was an uncharacteristic collegiality between the commercial networks when the recent radio results were released. But this does not mean the sense of competition in the industry has waned at all. As NZME chief commercial officer Matt Headland explains, there’s plenty room for both collaboration and competition in an industry that continues to thrive regardless of the continued onslaught of digital.         

StopPress: How important is it for the commercial networks to collaborate to ensure the continued health of the radio channel?

Matt Headland: The industry grew again for the third survey in a row, but competition continues to be fierce and that will benefit both listeners and advertisers. There’s place for both collaboration and competition in radio; competition keeps everyone striving for the next great idea for promos, client campaigns and strategies, where collaboration allows the channel as a whole to hold its own in a media landscape that is constantly evolving.

What were some of the highlights for NZME in the latest survey?

NZME had some great wins across News, Sport and Music, as well as the network seeing 2 million radio listeners across New Zealand. We also reclaimed the title of number one radio network in Auckland. In News, Mike Hosking has the number one breakfast show with the most listeners and market share, and Newstalk ZB is the number overall station in New Zealand. In sport, Radio Sport is the number sport station with the breakfast team of Kent, Nathan and Marc seeing an increase of almost 5,000 male 35-59 listeners, their main target audience group.

It was great to see NZME on top across a number of demographics and styles when it came to music. Fletch, Vaughan and Megan on ZM have the number one breakfast show for 18- to 34-year-olds. Coast is the #1 Music station in New Zealand for all people 40+, and The Wake Up Call with Sela, Pua and Tash on Flava has gained 17,500 new listeners.

The major pop music stations had a tough survey, with drops in share. A lot of this seems to have been picked up by the Hip-Hop stations. Are you concerned about this? How far do you believe this shift in music taste could go?

We’re in a strong music cycle at the moment for hip-hop, with Flava and Mai both doing well. ZM increased their cumulative audience, hitting half a million listeners for the first time, so their content is still resonating with listeners and attracting new ears. Music trends are fluid, and we’ve seen an increase in hip-hop artists touring New Zealand across the last few surveys, something that is reflected in the listenership.   

Radio is all about the talent, but some presenters tend to be better at digital than others. So who do you see as some of the best digital operators across the stations at NZME?

NZME talent are excellent on the air, socially, digitally, on video and at events; it’s one of the reasons why NZME Radio ratings continue to grow, as we are actively engaging with audiences everywhere. The reach our talent garners on social makes them influencers in their own right, amplifying aligned brand messages to an enormous following. We also have some stellar talent in the digital teams, who support the on-air talent when it comes to our digital presence.

How has iHeartRadio performed in New Zealand, given there has been much in the international media about its performance in other counties?

We’ve seen incredible growth with iHeartRadio, with 654,512 registered users and 33 percent year-on-year growth. On average, 288,042 people tune-in to the platform each month, which is 16 percent year-on-year growth. We’ve also been developing the advertising offering further.

iHeartRadio New Zealand now allows advertisers to reach their customers on a granular level, using digital audience targeting. iHeartRadio New Zealand groups users’ first-party data based on gender, age, location and listening behaviour. This is crucial for advertisers, as audio ads can then be created and placed specifically to talk directly to a chosen audience, based on an advertiser’s defined target. This is an advantage for advertisers wanting to target multiple markets at any given time, but just as effective for niche businesses who know exactly who they want to hear their adverts.

Radio ad revenue remains strong, but there are still few examples of effectively monetising the digital channels (the ACC is an example often used). How do you expect to increase digital revenue over the next 12 months?

NZME is committed to investing in our digital platforms, and Laura Maxwell was recently appointed to the role of chief digital officer, a new position created to reflect that commitment. Our video platforms WatchMe and NZ Herald Focus continue to churn out quality, locally made content, with millions of streams each week. We have a number of digital verticals that we will continue to develop, such as GrabOne, RestaurantHub and Ratebroker, which are all consumer-focused and able to offer targeted communication for advertisers. 

This story as brought to you as part of an ongoing content partnership between NZME and StopPress. 

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