Tarun Katial, CEO of RBNL, which runs Big FM is confident that it would be able to leverage the addition of the 14 new frequencies to cement its position as a premier destination for radio advertisers. The operator spent to the tune of Rs 117 crore for the new frequencies.
The addition of the 14 new frequencies now takes Big FM’s tally to 59 stations. New additions include Pune, Nagpur, Lucknow, Patna, Varanasi and Kolhapur, among others. The overall network now covers all 4 ‘A+’ category towns, 7 out of 9 ‘A’ category towns and 12 out of 17 ‘B’ category towns.
The post auction network now includes 5 stations in Maharashtra and Goa and 13 frequencies in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. The operator has also made significant investments in the North-east with new frequencies in Agartala, Itanagar, Shillong and Aizwal.
When asked about the company’s strategy in the auctions, Katial informed us, “We wanted to ensure that we covered the gaps in the mini metros and covered the key geographies. We also wanted to increase our geographical coverage in states like UP and Maharashtra. Post the auctions, we now have the largest network in Maharashtra.”
Speaking about the investment in the North-east and especially the smaller metros, Katial said that since the north-east is largely media dark, radio has a lot of growth opportunity. “Mini metros will play a big part in our growth strategy. Cities like Pune and Nagpur have a tremendous potential for GDP growth. On the content side we are going to have a huge focus on Marathi content.” The focus on regional content will also be seen in the North, said Katial, pointing out that Big would leverage its TV experience with Big Magic Ganga (across Bihar, Jharkhand and UP), which was rebranded last year.
BIG Magic Bihar and Jharkhand rebrands as BIG Magic Ganga
In terms of content and programming, Katial admitted that the network programming strategy adopted by Big FM in the past have been successful for the company and is something that would continue in the future. “Big, branded content properties like ‘Suhaana Safar with Annu Kapoor’, ‘Yaadon ka Idiot Box with Neelesh Misra’, ‘Carvaan-e-Ghazal with Talat Aziz’, etc. have worked really well for us,” he said.
There have been some rumors that operators will be raising ad rates as they provide advertisers with a bigger bouquet of channels and as they seek to recoup investments in Phase III. Katial did not mention whether a hike in ad rates was expected. However, he said that the addition of new cities would benefit radio advertising as a whole as it would allow advertisers to reach new regions and new audiences.