Industry predictions: Radio waves into 2019

Business heads of radio stations forecast the growth and trends in the radio sector in 2019

Radio

The year started off on a positive note with private FM radio stations allowed to broadcast All India Radio News free of cost on trial basis till May 31. Also, on the advertising front with the upcoming elections, IPL and World Cup, industry experts are expecting a double digit growth over last year. We speak to business heads of radio stations to learn more on how the year will turn out for the sector. Here's what they have to say:

Nisha Narayanan, CEO, Red FM

Radio will continue the growth path. Even in the challenging times, it was able to register a double-digit growth and we are sure that with elections and sports the momentum will continue. We are hopeful of healthy two-digit growth in the medium and smaller markets and a reasonably high single-digit growth in metro markets which are already on the peak of inventory utilisation.

What 2019 brings in for radio is to emerge as a much stronger-enabler medium where all others (medium) will look at it to spread information/offers about them. This is due to its hyperlocal nature and vast geographical presence that has happened due to phase 3 batch 1 and 2.

New advertisers, riding on success of their competitors and compatriots want to adapt radio in their media plan. Added with that is its reach from the smallest to the largest market giving them a reason to seriously look at radio as it helps them rationalise their ROI.

Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi

Everyone expects 2019 to be a better year, with the much delayed lift-off in the economy finally happening. Elections will certainly help. IPL is an annual affair, and if it is held outside India this year, we need to figure out the match timings. The World Cup is also very exciting because the timing is perfect! Overall however, it is not these events that determine how any business does. It is how regular advertisers spend. I expect that to improve in 2019.

Advertisers will look for ‘solutions’, not just ‘radio’. And also not just TV or print. Media owners who can provide solutions will do well. This is a long lasting trend.

Asheesh Chatterjee, CFO, Big FM

The year looks promising. The national advertisers who flirted with digital and FTA channels have now realised the content integration, high frequency, long tenure, theatre of mind or surround that radio and digital offer is anything unlike its television and print counterpart (degree of customisation). They are back to radio in a big way. People who are able to give them the rightly curated solutions will see money coming their way. The growth will be in mid-teens in both volume and pricing. 

With very few frequencies coming in radio stations will experiment within the same place. There will be innovations in the story format. People will start defining themselves more as an audio entertainment company than FM station. That content will flow across media and will be platform-agnostic.

Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD and CEO, Radio One

2019 has excellent prospects and radio will gain tremendously from elections and cricket. While we cannot project a figure for specific activities, the annualised growth should be in the vicinity of 14-16 per cent, almost double the growth of 2018.

Radio and digital will outgrow the other media. Pure content-play, be it digital or OTT, will have to prove themselves on profits or they will bleed further, both in India and globally.

Radio companies will need to ‘improve value’ of their on-air product and stop doing activations and events to allow a positive return on capital invested on the huge license fees.

Rahul Namjoshi, Business Head, MY FM

There will be no major trend change. The top five-six advertising categories will remain the same. On the product side new formats will be seen on the back of strong competition.

The medium should witness strong double-digit growth in advertising revenue.

Satya Narayana Murthy, CEO, Indigo FM

2019 should see the radio industry bounce back and register a revenue growth above 12 per cent.  We expect the advertisers of the core sectors of real estate, BFSI, auto and e-commerce to drive this growth. The industry will also be helped by a spike due to election spends and increasing spends during sporting events such as the World Cup and IPL.

Radio listenership base is likely to improve with more number of cities under radio coverage. Most stations with their multiple frequencies provide differentiated and more personalised content to cater to the demand. We can expect some M&A activity to happen with industry consolidation already having begun.

 

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