One of the driving forces behind the creation of Nova was the growing demographic of youth who were embracing the commercialised anti-pop movement fronted by such artists as Daft Punk and Spiderbait, but for whom Triple J, operated by the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, had no commercial incentives to offer. Initially the music selection on Nova 96.9 was very similar to that of Triple J, and a number of the station presenters, most notably former breakfast hosts Merrick and Rosso, which were also former Triple J staff. However, while Triple J has retained its alternative style, Nova has drifted towards a more commercial format. Meanwhile, other stations have adopted Nova's more varied programming style, to the point where Nova is now hard to tell apart from other commercial FM stations.
Along with its sister stations Nova 100 Melbourne, Nova 106.9 Brisbane, Nova 91.9 Adelaide and Nova 93.7 Perth, Nova claims to be Australia's leading under 40s brand. The most recent Nielson radio ratings for Sydney (survey 4, 2010) gives Nova a soft 6.2% share of the Sydney audience.