The Indian Listenership Track's (ILT) Wave 5 has been released and as
usual, with both bouquets and brickbats from the radio industry. The
findings show Radio Mirchi score as the lead player, despite a drop in
Mumbai. Radio City is on the number two slot followed by Red FM, which
has registered a drop in both Mumbai and Delhi markets.
It may be recalled that ILT is executed by the Media Research User's Council (MRUC) and is done only for the cities of Mumbai and Delhi. In this survey, which was done in the period of June 20, 2005 to September 4, 2005, the study includes the NCR as well, bringing in the new universe that is seen in IRS 2005 Round 2.
With almost an equal universe in both Mumbai and Delhi, Mumbai has seen a drop in listenership from 46.12 lakh to 45.77 lakh. On a like-to-like basis, Delhi has increased from 38 lakh to 56.93 lakh.
A further cause of concern for Mumbai comes in the fact that all stations have recorded a drop. Radio Mirchi, still the leader in the segment, has de-grown from 26.35 lakh to 20.88 lakh. Radio City, the number two player, has dipped from 26.03 to 18.44 lakh. The third player in the city is Red FM, which has gone down from 9.78 lakh to 7.24 lakh. Go 92.5, too, has dropped from 4.26 lakh to 3.47 lakh, and the worst news is for AIR, which falls from 4.7 lakh to 1.74 lakh.
Compared to Mumbai, in Delhi Radio Mirchi has grown from 29.8 lakh to 40.64 lakh, while Radio City has grown from 15.43 lakh to 19.85 lakh. Red FM, however, has dropped in the city from 8.94 lakh to 7.85 lakh.
Needless to say that Radio Mirchi is excited with the station's performance. Prashant Panday, COO of the station, said, "We have a considerable lead from other stations and that is definitely good news. It shows that our focus on content and the inclusion of Bollywood is accepted well by the listeners."
He further said, "A listenership of 41 lakh in Delhi is not an easy number and practically makes Mirchi the strongest medium there, better than any channel or paper. We are very thrilled by these numbers."
Even though Radio City CEO Apurva Purohit, too, is content with the data, barring a few exceptions, Red FM has some grave objections. Said Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, "They have only shared top line data with us yet and there isn't much that can be said on the basis of that. Nonetheless, we are not content with the methodology."
He explained, "Top of mind listenership and actual listenership are two different criterions and the study only gauges the first to some extent, we had raised these objections earlier as well and had suggested the addition of pointed questions that could vet what station the listener was actually tuned in to. However, despite the promises this wasn't incorporated in the study."
Thomas divulged that in June 2005, MRUC had made a presentation to the station with the questions suggested, about the name of the programme of the radio jockey, incorporated in it, however, the results were "drastically different" from what was seen in this wave.
He added, "They had done a pilot and in those numbers, too, while there was a number one, two and three, the difference is not exaggerated as the findings now seem to suggest. Not to mention, the complete difference that this study shows in comparison to NRS."
Bringing another point of view, Panday said, "The study is four years old now and is no longer just about yesterday's listenership. So, when a listener says he is listening to particular station, he knows what the station is about."
Even as this looks like the bane of contention for the players, which will take time to resolve, regarding the drop that Mumbai is seeing in listenership, they all do have a point of view.
While Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, expressed, "With Indian FM radio research being so young, there isn't enough data to detect seasonal or cyclical variations. However, Radio City Mumbai has shown very healthy leads in key areas like SEC AB listenership and loyalty or solus listenership."
Panday believed that the drop could be due to the decrease in duplicated listenership, "the overlap of listeners between the stations has visibly reduced and this could have led to the fall in the numbers of all the stations." This is at least one point of the findings that both Mirchi and Red FM agree on.
To look at a few numbers here, the duplicated listenership between Mirchi and City has dropped from 55 per cent to 28 per cent. Similarly, between Go and Mirchi, the duplicated listenership has dropped from 64 per cent to 42 per cent.
As far as the performance of the station in Delhi was concerned, she said, "When we put NRS '05 trends against the ILT, Mumbai numbers track well. However, with Delhi, there seems to a divide since NRS puts Radio City Delhi as an extremely close number two in reach, with a relatively tiny margin of three lakh listeners. And with our innovative programming and promotional line-up, we are aiming for big gains for Radio City Delhi."
Go 92.5 wasn't available for comments. As is known, the station hasn't been subscribing to ILT data in the past.
The radio industry is heating up given the new license structure and all players are spending money substantially – from Mirchi to Red. Given the over-the-top promotions, the next wave should have more interesting results.