The market is coming back we're feeling more positive: ARN's Ciaran Davis | radioinfo

The market is coming back we're feeling more positive: ARN's Ciaran Davis

Thursday 06 May, 2021

HT&E held its annual general meeting and released its full year results today.

Speaking to radioinfo after the AGM, CEO Ciaran Davis explained the results, talked about the income being earned from podcasting and speculated about acquiring new stations if the opportunity arises.

This time last year the world was a very different place and we were all very uncertain about the pandemic. Lockdowns. economic activity, confidence were obviously rock bottom... last year's AGM, some would say, was a bleak place.

What has been pleasing since then, from June, July onwards, radio actually performed really well, although the economic activity was pretty low... what I'm really pleased about today is that we have come through in much better operational shape. We've got a very clear strategic focus.

We spent last year investing in a lot of digital technology and systems. Our ratings consistency, our recent success means that we're winning share. The market is coming back and we're feeling an awful lot more positive about the future radio's role and the future of digital audio.

We talk about streaming, podcasting, we talk about digital audio, but we don't forget about the importance of broadcast radio to both listeners and advertisers. We don't see podcasting taking over the business and indeed we don't see podcasting revenue taking from radio revenue. The two are extremely complementary.

Podcasting, streaming music will take away from digital players as opposed to radio, so I look to the future with great confidence. We're investing as a business, we're hiring people again. The radio market is growing, listenership is growing. Digital audio offerings are growing at an unbelievably exciting pace.

What part of the business does the cash flow from podcasting? What's the percentage of that?

It's small at the moment, there's no doubt about that, but we're going to see the podcasting market grow, double, in the next 12 months and exponentially grow in the next three to five years. There's no question about that.

The important thing to remember is what's the role of each particular platform in advertising? Broadcast radio is a frequency medium, it's a call-to-action media, especially for retail.

Podcasting is very often a brand awareness medium, a brand association business, whereas before that was the major made of TV or out of home... podcasting audio can take that place. What we've invested in is understanding the creators behind both what engages listeners and what messaging works best. One of the exciting things that we did this year was understand how consumers react to audio in different environments and what advertising, communications and messaging works well in those environments. We're definitely seeing that radio's role as a frequency call to action medium has not changed. Podcasting is much more about brand awareness.

If the opportunity came about, would you look at purchasing more radio stations in the future?

I'm a huge fan of radio so, yes, I would, because it's a fantastic medium that I believe in the long term sustainability in this market, so long as we can invest and continue to nurture new talent. That's one of the challenges as an industry that we have to look to, how we're going to bring new talent to radio... I find it really exciting because there's a group of influencers and new media people who are connecting with an audience, they actually have a communications skill that would work really well on a radio. If we can tap into that sort of audience and bring them into the radio sphere as well, then the opportunity is very exciting.

Read our earlier report on the financial results here.



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