Differentiation is the key for all radio players, as the medium expands from 243 to 800 odd stations through the Phase III auctions. As a result, radio networks are exploring newer formats to offer listeners, and retro seems to be the ‘in’ thing currently. The first to go retro was Big FM in 2013, which saw a lacuna in the market. With the first batch of the Phase III auctions seeing a bidding frenzy with players spending a high amount on acquiring frequencies, clearly, radio operators were looking to go beyond the latest Bollywood music to attract advertisers and listeners alike.
HT Media recently launched its second FM station in Mumbai, Radio Nasha — playing music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The latest to jump on the bandwagon is Red FM with Redtro —playing music from the ’90s.
“Retro is a very wide space and can work in any market as it is very familiar,” Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM says. “Redtro as a brand will only be present in Mumbai. A huge license fee has been paid and we hope the
market adapts to new stations.”
The advantage of having a second license for a radio player is that one is able to cut down on expenses. Thus the break-even period is shorter.
However, it is important to note that content on radio has not seen much differentiation, with everyone playing the same music. There is a clear set of audiences which wants to listen to retro music and this is why players are increasingly turning to this format. “A lot of advertisers like Hyundai and Renault which want to connect with mature audiences are lapping it up,” says Anita Nayyar, CEO, India & South Asia, Havas Media. However, segmentation in radio seems to be a distant concept as
Bollywood music cuts through the masses. “While there are takers for classical, Sufi etc, audiences are not segmented as they also like Bollywood and retro. So the market is segmented by eras of music rather than genres,” she adds.
Giving an international perspective, Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma, mentions, “In the West, station genre differentiation is a prerequisite for buying a license.\
In India, with high bidding costs, stations need to ensure maximum reach to advertisers, which cannot be delivered through anything but Hindi music.” Red FM’s seven other frequencies will also be an extension of the Bollywood music station.
The other segment where growth in radio is expected to come from is on-ground activation, concerts and digital. “We need to look at multiple revenue streams outside FCT because there is a limit to how much you can play FCT on
radio,” states Narayanan.