Radio industry hopeful of a quicker recovery post lockdown 2.0
Despite a fairly brisk start at the beginning of 2021, there was an approximate 50% degrowth in the radio media due to the second wave. However, a speedy recovery is expected by the end of the year
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the month of April 2021 and it left everyone feeling anxious about global health and where the world is headed in the months to come. Even during such testing times, the radio media’s solemn duty was to assuage the paranoia and curb the spread of misinformation. The Radio Industry is always looking for the best ways possible to respond by spreading awareness and creating a feeling of positivity. But how did the industry cope with the challenges that came with the second wave? More importantly, how is it adjusting to the ad volumes dropping?
e4m spoke to radio industry experts on how their channels dealt with the second wave and the brief lockdown that followed. Experts expect a much quicker recovery as compared to last year and are hopeful that the industry will bounce back strongly.
B Surendar, COO and Director RED FM Network, said that although focusing on normalcy and growth in revenues was preferred, much faster recovery is expected despite this temporary setback. He explains, ‘Radio is a powerful local medium used by national and local advertisers alike, for both brand building and tactical purposes. So it is understandable when revenues get somewhat affected whenever there is a lockdown situation. Although the second wave of Covid affected our first-quarter revenues in the current financial year, we are expecting a much quicker recovery this time around as the situation seems to be getting better already.”
“However, from a listener’s point of view, Red FM and the Indian radio industry stood up for people once again by creating massive awareness through our SMS (Soap, Mask & Social distancing) campaign and also by stressing the importance of vaccination, early treatment after getting symptoms, etc. leveraging the strong relationship we have with the authorities, health experts and celebrities from all walks of life and also the emotional connect our RJ's have with the listeners, we did create the right impact both in terms of information and entertainment.”
Talking about the percentage of revenue that was affected due to the second lockdown he said, “The adverse impact is to the tune of 50% spread over two months which is much lesser compared to what had happened in the first quarter of the last financial year. This is mainly because we had a fairly brisk start in April'21, before the business got affected towards the middle of the month. However, there are enough signs of revival already this month. While the Covid spread was more severe and intense in the bigger cities in the first wave, this time around it has affected the Tier II & III cities just as much.”
Asheesh Chatterjee, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Business Officer, BIG FM spoke about how BIG FM has created good packages and how their ultimate focus has been on helping their stakeholders towards a speedy recovery. “While the lockdown and curfew do pose a challenge, brands and consumers have learned to adapt themselves. The initial month and half of the lockdown, due to the second wave, was most challenging. However, it was more short-term in nature. April was largely unaffected. With vaccination drives being conducted across the country, we are moving towards un-lockdown again. By August, we believe the situation will be back to normal. The comeback from September onwards will be far steeper and vertically driven.”
“Revenues for radio are fairly broad-based across multiple sectors and industries and we, at BIG FM, operate as a vast network of 58 stations across the country. As the industry takes rapid strides in its recovery, we would like to support our advertisers in this journey,” he states.
Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM and Magic FM explained, “The second lockdown which was more intense and fatal has impacted all sectors and we were also a part of that impact. While Q4 had started showing signs of a good year ahead for FY 22, 2nd wave dampened the spirits hard. This time as the smaller cities also got affected on account of the severity of the virus spread, business suffered from all directions. In the previous lockdown, the tier 2 & 3 cities were less impacted. This time spending from Govt., E-Commerce and Health categories was also not as much as it was in Lockdown 1. It was intense for the initial 2 months. It also brought along with it high prices of fuel, inflationary trends in the prices of almost all goods and services, delay in consumption as well as production and loss of employment in smaller cities as well.”
“The sectors which got impacted this time included FMCG, Education Retail, Lifestyle, Consumer durables Govt. and E-Commerce, especially mobile handsets, as online delivery was not allowed this time. During the last lockdown, many new brands especially from FMCG Health and MSME emerged and took lockdown and low inventories as opportunities. This time the number of new brands was much less and were mostly from Health & pharmaceuticals. Some of which started in Q3-4 were spending in smaller amounts and were not able to make use of the momentum they initiated in Q4.
However, the bounce back this time should be equally quicker as most of the businesses want to resume as soon as possible. Hopefully, the second half of June onwards, things would improve. Timely monsoon rains are also a welcome sign. If Maharashtra and Southern states would also ease the lockdown and if there is a fall in the number of covid cases, July and August should be happier times for us again,” she said.
In addition to that, she also shared her views on the percentage of revenue affected due to the second lockdown by saying, “The months of April and May washed out badly. It will take time to revive in the month of June as lockdowns are being eased partially. Comparing it with the last year is of no use. However, as compared to 2019-2020, Apr-June, Qtr will be recovering around only 25-27%, which means there is a long way to recovery for the rest of the year.”
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