Smaller FM stations are finding allies in like-minded larger FM players to expand their base, especially through consolidation of sales forces, which give the former an opportunity to reach out to national clients.
Such inter-brand relations are not new in FM radio, which most probably began with Sun TV Network taking a 48.9 per cent stake in Red FM, which would provide a common advertising sales platform for the radio stations. While in this case both are large players, local or smaller FM players are also partnering with larger FM players, which as of now are purely sales alliances and on a long term basis among like-minded FM stations, especially in those markets where they are not present.
Such alliances help the smaller FM stations not only reach out to national clients, but also understand more about the national market. For instance, Radio Misty, which operates in Siliguri and Gangtok, has partnered with Radio One, which is present in seven metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Kolkata. The partnership came into existence beginning January 2009 and is purely a sales alliance.
Friends FM, which operates in Kolkata, has also partnered with Radio City, which is present in 20 cities, excluding Kolkata. This is also a sales alliance and serves the interests of both the FM players.
ENIL, too, has partnered with Radio Mantra, though no official comments from either FM player was forthcoming. SFM officials were unavailable for comments.
It’s a win-win situation
Ashit Kukian, Executive Vice President & National Head – Sales, Radio City, pointed out, “Kolkata being a big market and the fact that we were not present there, created the need for the tie-up. Whenever we align with the radio stations, we ensure a TG fitment. Both Friends FM and Radio City share the same TG, which helps in expanding the network. This has increased the advertising flow for both the stations.”
“There are no stakes involved. We work on a certain revenue structure and yes, such partnerships do work for both the stations as we get more opportunities in terms of selling stations. For smaller players, it’s a win-win situation where they can look after the local markets, while bigger stations can look at the national advertisers. In addition to our alliances with Friends FM and Suno Lemon in Gwalior, we are working on a few more consolidations,” he added.
Dilip Dugar, Vice President, Radio Misty, said, “Radio Misty has stations in Siliguri and Sikkim. We have entered into a sales alliance with Radio One, which has footprints in all metros. This alliance will give us a unique opportunity to tap national clients. Radio One has started with their Kolkata station recently. In fact, Kolkata, Siliguri and Sikkim make a full ‘East pack’ and that will attract advertisers. It’s a purely sales alliance. We have also been learning trends in the national market. This type of alliance helps a lot and makes small stations know more about the national market.”
He further said, “I don’t see a large-scale consolidation happening, except for informal marketing efforts. The radio industry needs to grow outwards and reach out to a greater variety of audiences in the coming years.”
While such sales integrations are not new, industry players believe that more and more FM stations in the near future would take this route to attract more advertisers and learn the trends in national market and even expand their base in places where they have been non-existent.