We are the provocative entertainer – loud and aggressive: Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM

Nisha Narayanan, COO, 93.5, Red FM says that Radio should stop selling itself as just Radio but offer clients a 360-degree package selling and adds that focus on IP and Digital is the way forward

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Jul 21, 2017 8:34 AM

Bajaate Raho’ – goes the tagline of the FM Radio station, Red FM which recently turned 15. In addition, the network’ second frequency in Mumbai, Redtro 106.4 - with the tagline ‘Phir Bajao, completed a year of operations.  Looking back, Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM, says, “With Bajaate Raho and Phir Bajao, we have challenged content and experimented with different formats in terms of reality radio, drama, humour. We are the provocative entertainer – loud and aggressive, and people have accepted our brands.” On Redtro 106.4, Narayanan says that the channel - focused on music from the 90s - has managed to break the clutter and clearly differentiate itself in the retro space.


Strengthening Position in Tier II Towns


On the back of the Phase III expansion, the now 70 station strong Red FM network recently expanded its geographical presence to Jodhpur, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Surat and Patna, thereby strengthening its position in Tier II markets. On cementing its position in the new markets, she says, “Red FM, the brand is a differentiator. Our positioning allows us to play with content, be wicked, naughty, tongue-in-cheek and irreverent and that makes us stand apart. We take up and speak about social issues and this is a clear differentiator. Our RJs are sub-brands with a huge following.” She also says that she expects the new stations to be profitable in two to three years.


Double-Digit Growth


Despite the demonetisation hurdle, the company managed to clock double digit growth rate of around 18% last year with revenues under the Rs 500 crore mark. While the major chunk of the revenue still comes from the metros, what’s encouraging for Narayanan is that the contribution from the Tier II towns, namely Pune, Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, has significantly picked up. Betting big on these towns she says that Tier II towns are also more receptive to on-ground events, activations and concerts.


Upping The Digital Game


A bright spot has been Digital which has shown a 150% growth from last year, albeit on a small base. Narayanan says, “The advantage we have is we are not a digital platform but a content creator.  Everything that goes on air, except for the music, is our copyright and therefore we can milk it better. We have brought in a lot of new shows and content strategies on Digital that has worked for us. We have been able to monetise it and our monetisation on Digital has largely been through social media.” Red FM also recently launched an app that entertains viewers with hand-picked, curated content.


A 360-Degree Approach to Selling


Narayanan believes that it is now time for Radio to stop selling itself as Radio but offer clients a 360-degree package. She also stresses on the importance of partnerships and alliances with other stakeholders to grow the business and emphasises, “We need to start selling differently. We should stop selling ourselves as Radio but sell ourselves as an entertainment medium. We need to sell a 360-degree package that offers clients Radio, Digital, On-Ground and even Television. If we adopt this strategy, we bring in more innovations into our planning.”


Innovation & Intellectual Property: The Buzz Word


In 2016, RED FM launched the Riders Music Festival, an event that combined biking, music and food. The channel chalked out a year-long content deal with the presenting sponsor Hike Messenger and the focus is to enter into similar deals with other brands.  Its Digital property, Carnama, a chat show, has an RJ driving around a celebrity. She says, “Selling needs to go beyond FCT and needs to be non-FCT. It needs to be content and innovative driven. An ideal situation would be where 25% of revenues come from non-traditional revenue.”


The other successful IP property, Red Live - the live entertainment vertical of the company – saw the brand organise stand-up comedy and musical shows across markets including smaller cities like Shillong and Banaras. Up next, the network is set to launch a sub IP called MusicCom, under RedLive, which will bring together music and stand-up comedy. 


Looking ahead, consolidation will be the focus, particularly in the Hindi speaking markets, UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra and in the South. As part of its expansion plans, a second frequency station in Chennai and Hyderabad will be on-air soon and new stations will be launched in Jammu, Srinagar, Leh, and Dehradun. 

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