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FM (The Road Ahead) – Madison Media Paper

09-January-2004
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FM (The Road Ahead) – Madison Media Paper

Worldwide, radio garners 5-12 % of advertising monies. In India, it manages less than 2%. This despite All India Radio having a huge network of 141 medium (MW), 54 short wave (SW) and 130 FM transmitters, which is one of the largest in the world!

Placed in this background, FM (The Road Ahead), a media paper by Madison, examines some of the key issues surrounding the radio landscape. As per the findings released, listeners are dispersed across various SECs and age groups. The lead players, Radio City and Radio Mirchi have similar listenership profiles - a skew towards younger age groups and SEC A and D while GO has a distinct skew towards SEC A due to its programming content. Broadly, most of the stations have identical programming currently and are thus not attracting audiences. Stations in Madison’s view have not been able to carve out a niche for themselves, in any of the markets. The paper recalls a study commissioned by RED FM in Delhi, which proves that listeners cannot really identify stations accurately. As per the study, in 74% of the cases, listeners attributed their favorite radio programme to the wrong station!

The paper further discloses that in car listenership is still very insignificant in India and an overwhelming fraction of FM listeners listen to radio ‘at home only.’ As per statistics, only 15% of FM listeners own a car. The paper refers to a study by DRS, Delhi on FM Audience which shows that 72% of radio listenership occurs when at home while 3% of the listenership occurs in the car! The other conclusion is that although the morning prime band is favored by most target groups, early morning and late night time bands seem to have untapped potential as well. A reference is made to the AC Nielson Radio Audience Measurement Study, March 19-April 20 2003, which traces preferred time bands for different types of professionals. As per the AC Neilson findings, Shopkeepers prefer the 0800-1200-time band; industrialists prefer the 6 to 10 time band and 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. time band, while students prefer to stay with the 10 to 12 time band and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. time band.

Loyalty to the radio stations? The Madison media paper reveals that claimed loyalty (listenership for a station of choice) is surprisingly very high. A reference is made to the AC Nielson Radio Audience Measurement study, March 19-April 20 2003 wherein 53% listed Mirchi as the station of choice, 46% subscribed to Radio City, 47% claimed that Red is the natural favorite and 34% were exclusive GO listeners!

Madison also monitored the private FM stations over a 6-week period during Aug-September 2003 for Mumbai to keep a tab on advertiser response. While 14% of the advertisers are from the FMCG family, media houses account for 22% and durables account for 12%. As per the analysis, most of the advertisers use 2-3 stations in order to achieve maximum impact. The top 10 advertisers on private FM channels in Mumbai, between August 9 and September 16 are Panasonic, Panasonic Battery, Humdard Safi, Sony TV, Jeeva, Airtel, Lifebouy and Zee TV. The total number of spots used is around 8-10 per day. And if the plan has multiple stations, 4-6 spots per station are used per day. As per the paper, most of the top advertisers have substantial spots in the afternoon band. In fact, only 10-15% of the total spots are in the much hyped morning or evening prime bands. While this could be attributed to the deal structure entered into by these advertisers with the various stations, the fact remains that the consumer is exposed to over 60% of the messages in the non-prime band!

The paper asserts that the main problem faced by the Indian FM industry is a mismatch of revenues to the high operating costs. The license fees paid by operators in Mumbai alone, for the first year of operation is close to 50 crore, while the revenues from Mumbai are estimated to be around 22 crore annually! The paper states that in the face of such a revenue scenario, there is almost no experimentation with content.

Radio Soaps? Madison Media had conducted a dipstick in Mumbai amongst 100 housewives in SEC ABC to understand the impact of the recently launched soap operas such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Saans and other new programmes on Radio City. As per the dipstick, Radio City and Radio Mirchi top the listenership charts while there is no specific programme listenership or loyalty. 53% of the respondents named ‘film songs’ as the programme normally listened to at the unaided level. The spontaneous awareness of the new programme on Radio City was low probably as promotions had just begun. However, a large number, when prompted, recalled the programmes on Radio City with Kyunki at a whopping 78%. Nearly a fourth of the respondents claimed to have already tuned into Kyunki at the time of the dipstick.

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