Radio goes online to fight audio-streaming platforms

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Published: February 17, 2020 6:00:45 AM

Online music streaming had a reach of 37% in 2019 while that of radio declined to 41%. In absolute numbers, the reach of radio was 377 million whereas online music streaming had a reach of 331 million in 2019.

Radio going digital, radio competition, how radio is coping with competition, new profit models of radio, radio channels innovation, radio case study on dealing with competitionRadio, which has about a 5% share of the advertising revenue pie, is expected to earn Rs 2,986 crore in ad revenue in 2020, as per a GroupM study.

A case of old wine in a new bottle? FM radio channels seem to be shedding their radio tags to adopt the universal ‘audio platform’ tag in the face of increasing competition from audio-streaming platforms as well as other formats of digital media consumption.

According to Dentsu Aegis Network CCS 2019 (Consumer Connection System), the reach of audio-streaming platforms is catching up with radio channels.

Online music streaming had a reach of 37% in 2019 while that of radio declined to 41%. In absolute numbers, the reach of radio was 377 million whereas online music streaming had a reach of 331 million in 2019.

Red FM COO Nisha Narayanan says the competition in the radio industry is not really among radio channels anymore; it is more to do with rapidly developing technology. This is why radio channels are increasingly building their online presence across audio and video content formats. Red FM’s YouTube channel, which has 3.6 million subscribers, houses its digital content. This comprises behind-the-scenes videos, content created exclusively for digital, and the digital versions of the channel’s radio shows.

Radio Mirchi has a strong digital content strategy. The brand has about 30 online radio stations and multiple YouTube channels including Filmy Mirchi, Mirchi Murga, Mirchi Bangla and Mirchi Tamil. The channels have a combined subscriber base of eight million. “The consistent feature of our online radios is that they generate high listening time and engagement,” Entertainment Network India CEO Prashant Panday says.

Radio channels now view their marquee RJs such as Malishka, Raunac, Naved Khan and Sayema Rehman as influencers and content creators who are medium-agnostic. In fact, these influencers are part of the bouquet of advertising solutions that radio channels offer to advertisers.

Radio channels are also latching on to the trend of creating podcasts. Radio City, Radio Mirchi and Red FM are building a library of podcast content which is exclusive to their digital channels. Original content for digital platforms gives radio channels extra avenues for monetisation and brand integrations.

“In addition to the regular inventory, radio offers a combination of RJ mentions, on-ground activations that can also be broadcast live on radio and allows digital content integration. This makes radio a potent advertising medium for advertisers despite the rise of audio streaming platforms,” says Sujata Dwibedy, group trading director, Amplifi India, Dentsu Aegis Network.

Radio, which has about a 5% share of the advertising revenue pie, is expected to earn Rs 2,986 crore in ad revenue in 2020, as per a GroupM study. “The growth in ad revenue for radio stations is mainly coming from non-FCT (free commercial time) revenue growth from digital, content production, and other innovative advertising solutions,” stated the 2019 FICCI-EY report. Panday says that one-third of Radio Mirchi’s business comes from ad solutions and not FCT. In FY19, Radio Mirchi earned `10 crore in digital revenues.

Red FM, too, has been working with advertisers to devise integrated solutions that cut across mediums. “Brands prefer digital because they are looking for ROI on campaigns and it is easier to measure impact on digital,” Narayanan points out.

However, in the absence of a strong measurement metric for radio, media planners rely on data provided by Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) which covers only the top metros, or the Indian Readership Survey. “But this does not give a complete picture of radio listenership across India given the depth and width of the coverage of radio channels,” says Nayarayanan. Therefore, radio channels commission private studies to analyse their reach and listenership.

However, media planners are not deterred by the lack of a uniform measurement tool and use radio to attain the objective of frequency while running a campaign. “We find that radio brings very high engagement particularly because of the opportunity to offer gratifications and connect live with listeners,” Dwibedy says.

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