Radio One acquisition strengthens our position in metros: Harshad Jain, HT Media

Harshad Jain, CEO- Radio & Entertainment, HT Media Ltd. and Next Radio Ltd speaks on the acquisition of Next Mediaworks Limited and leveraging Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One in its portfolio

Harshad Jain HT Media

HT Media Limited’s (HTML) - which operates Fever FM and Radio Nasha - recent acquisition of 51% majority stake in Next Mediaworks Limited (NMW), added seven radio stations to HTML’s portfolio. The new stations operate under the brand, Radio One across seven Indian metro cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Ahmedabad. With this HT Media now has 22 stations spanning 15 cities - three stations each in the markets of Delhi & Mumbai, two stations each in Bengaluru, Chennai & Kolkata, and Pune also coming into HTML’s fold.

Commenting on the rationale behind the acquisition, Harshad Jain, CEO – Radio and Entertainment, HT Media Ltd. and Next Radio Ltd. says, “The acquisition is in line with our strategy of driving inorganic growth and made strategic sense because we are a very metro-centric company. The top 10 cities contribute to 65-70% of the revenues in the radio industry. We already had a formidable footprint in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore and the Radio One acquisition strengthens our position in the metros.”

He continues, English music is a great format, and we realised that in the metro markets that there is huge growth potential for this format. We already have a very successful Hindi CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) format and with English, that covers high network individuals, we will be able to straddle the needs of the listeners.

With three brands - Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One –in its kitty, the network offers advertisers and media planners considerable reach in the markets it operates particularly in markets where it has multiple stations. He says, “All the three brands have their own standing, and loyalty, both from a listener and a customer stand-point. Our ability to get a certain amount of premium, in terms of pricing is pretty much a done deal.”

When asked, by when HT Media is likely to recoup its investment, Jain says, “That is part of our internal business plans. Looking at our investments during Phase III, we broke even operationally well ahead of what we had planned. With the acquisition of Radio One, we are still drawing out the numbers and strategies but we should be able to do it in a reasonable period of time.”

Playing The Differentiation Game

The metro-centric strategy for the company was even evident during the first batch of the Phase III Radio auctions, held in 2015 when HT Media spent approximately Rs 340 crore for 10 frequencies. The point of discussion at that time was the company loosening its purse-strings to pick up second in the prized markets, Delhi for Rs 169.16 crore and Mumbai for Rs 122.81 crore. “When we invested for the second license in Delhi and Mumbai we were very clear about what we wanted to do. Our strategy led to that investment and not vice-versa. Before we made the investment, we were very clear that there was a need in the market for disrupting the retro market and scope for innovation and growth. We were clear about the product, Radio Nasha, which we were going to launch and have stayed true to our brand and brand promise.”

The differentiated positioning of Fever FM and Radio Nasha has enabled HT Media to target a larger audience base with Fever FM TG being the 25-35 age group playing CHR while Radio Nasha targets the 35-45 age with the “cool retro format". Commenting on how the performance of stations he says, “In Delhi, Fever FM has been the No.1 radio station for over six years and basis Radio Audio Measurement, we've got over 18.5% listenership share and roughly about 6.5-7 million listeners who listen to us every week. Radio Nasha is the No. 2 radio station in Delhi within three years of launch.” He adds that the time spent on Fever FM and Radio Nasha in a week is 350 minutes and over 300 minutes respectively. He adds that Fever FM is the leader in the Mumbai and Kolkata market (between 7 am – midnight).

The Focus Areas

Most radio stations, in recent years, have looked at upping their revenue streams by going down the non-FCT route. Jain, however, is not keen on singing the same tune. He says, “Non-FCT revenues are important but that is not part of our strategic focus. We have made large investments for radio licenses and radio licenses are all about driving on-air listenership and on-air revenues and our priority is to drive on-air revenues. You are not going to be substituting that investment by driving on ground. Today, we do on-ground events more from a tactical standpoint.”

He continues, “Looking ahead, the focus will be on Radio One, the transformation, and transition, working on sharpening our product propositions and bringing in a very strong product strategy which gives listeners very compelling reasons to drive a high level of loyalty.”

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