Going beyond airways: Radio channels are monetising content on digital

Published: September 2, 2019 3:08:29 AM

The report states that this “was driven by a 3% ad volume growth”.

Radio channels, airways, Radio Mirchi, Red FM, entertainment sector, advertising revenue, radio broadcaster revenue, radio city digital armPrashant Panday, MD and CEO, Radio Mirchi, says, “All our digital products — online radio, YouTube channels, digital solutions, influencer marketing — are generating revenues.”

By Sonam Saini

Radio broadcasters are now eyeing a slice of the digital pie. Players like Radio Mirchi and Red FM are looking at video content as well as online audio and on-ground events as alternative sources of revenue. According to a 2019 report by FICCI-EY, the radio industry grew 7.5% in 2018. It contributes 4.2% to the overall advertising revenues of the media and entertainment sector.

The report states that this “was driven by a 3% ad volume growth”. There has been a rise in inventory owing to newly operationalised phase-III stations and non-FCT (free commercial time) revenue coming in from new business offerings such as digital, content production and syndication, activation, events, etc. These collectively contribute up to 20% to radio broadcasters’ revenue, the report estimates.

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Branching out

Radio players are making the most of their content offerings and brand loyalty. For instance, Radio City’s digital arm produces both short and long-form videos in genres such as Bollywood, comedy, human interest stories, drama and food. It has 18 web radio stations and over 5,000 podcasts across languages.

Entertainment Network India Limited (ENIL)-owned Radio Mirchi, too, is packaging its on-air content into digital properties. For example, two of its radio shows Calling Karan featuring Karan Johar and What Women Want featuring Kareena Kapoor were aired on YouTube. Its spelling competition show Spellbee was made into a five-episode TV show and aired on Discovery, Discovery Kids and Discovery Tamil.

Prashant Panday, MD and CEO, Radio Mirchi, says, “All our digital products — online radio, YouTube channels, digital solutions, influencer marketing — are generating revenues.” The company earned only Rs 10 crore in FY19 from digital, but expects to take this up to Rs 75 crore in the next five years. There are also plans to produce 40 hours of original video content this year.

In the past, Radio Mirchi has sold its Mirchi Music Awards to Jio TV. The radio station’s content has also found a way onto TV platforms like Zee and Viacom internationally. It recently partnered with MX Player and is also in talks with other OTT platforms.

Sun Group’s Red FM is looking at earning non-FCT revenues by posting its short-form audio content Bauaa, Paahi’s Love Stories and Ek Baar Ki Baat Hai on YouTube. Its latest offering Indie Hai Hum promotes independent music artistes on air as well as on digital. The radio station hosts on-ground events such as South Side Story, Swag Fest and Riders Music Festival.

“Offering a combination of events, digital and radio offerings to advertisers makes for a much stronger proposition. These additional offerings contribute up to 20-25% to our total revenue,” says Nisha Narayanan, COO and director, Red FM and Magic FM.

Bigger bets

Today, competition entails that every medium goes beyond its traditional offerings, says Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group India and Southeast Asia. “Similarly, radio is not just an audio medium anymore. It is also cost-
efficient and offers innovation and interactivity, which makes it attractive to advertisers,” she adds.

However, for radio broadcasters to further leverage the digital platform, they will have to up the stakes and go beyond celebrity chat shows and web series. Some are roping in their RJs to increase engagement with consumers, since they have considerable following on social media.

Given the reach that radio enjoys in the country, Raman Kalra, partner at PwC India, expects double-digit growth for the industry in the next five years. “This will happen on the back of multiple aspects such as radio players diversifying into digital, getting strategies and acquisition right on non-FCT revenues, making the right partnerships with OTT players and smart speaker devices, etc,” he adds.

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