Rewind 2015: Radio will become a 360 degree medium, say regional players



As part of our Rewind 2015 series, we spoke with regional private FM heads in the East to share their thoughts on the year and their expectations from next year.
It has been an interesting year for the private FM industry in the East and North East region and if the first stage of the Phase III auctions is anything to go by,  then 2016 might turn out to be an even better year. Cities like Bhubhaneshwar, Guwahati and Shillong were the subject of intense bidding during the auctions and with new frequencies in many states in the region set to go under the hammer in 2016, the expansion of radio in the region is bound to get a boost.
“The amount of money spent on the auctions has been more than expected. It (2016) is going to be a very important year. You are going to reach out to nook and corners and the Tier B and C towns have ample scope to grow. Regional stations will expand and it will create more jobs,” says Jimmy Tangree, Head of Friends 91.9 FM. Dilip Dugar, VP at Radio Misty, suggested that once new radio stations become operational in 2016, the sector would see it’s share in the overall radio pie will go up.
However, Tanaya Patnaik, Director at Radio Chokolate, also pointed out that the emergence of new stations will also lead to an increase in competition.

Speaking about content trends, Patnaik opined that the audience is no longer content with the standard run-of-the-mill content; including just music and chat. “It has now become more about storytelling. Earlier, the audience wanted only music. It is more about the narration and the engagement these days,” she told us.
In terms of revenues, Tangree told us that despite fluctuations, business had been positive in Kolkata and there was a lot of positivity about 2016. “The big stations must have seen 15-20 per cent growth in revenues, while smaller stations would have probably been in the range of 8-12 per cent,” he suggested.

Even Duggar agreed that revenue for 2015 was better than the previous year. According to him, key decisions like allowing AIR news to be aired on private FM and the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, have added a different dimension to the sector. Speaking about the ‘Mann ki Baat’ initiative, he said, “There is always the usual content, which is music and talk shows) but it brought the spotlight on the sector. We are looking forward to a vibrant 2016 for the radio industry.”

On the flipside, Patnaik mentioned that business had not seen any major changes in 2015. She attributed this to increased competition from the national level players as well as a mushrooming of regional TV networks in Bhubhaneshwar. “The new TV channels offer a lower rate than even radio and we cannot compete with the national level players. Till the time new stations under the second batch of Phase III are not auctioned off, it will be difficult to get business for us,” she said.

Tangree also agreed that getting business was a growing challenge. He opined that radio stations should have a strong 360 degree roadmap, which includes on-ground activities and digital. “It is about innovation on air, sampling on ground and reaching out on digital. This should be carried out in a strong way to get a 360 degree view,” he said.Dugar also agreed that doing 360 degree campaigns with radio is the right way forward. He pointed out that major newspapers do have presence on radio. “The advertiser wants a 360 plan and the radio has become integral. There are people in radio who are already talking about venturing into different mediums like print and OOH, to get that edge,” said Dugar.

Radio Choklate, which is part of the Eastern Media, has a bit of an advantage in this regards, as the parent company already has interests in print and television. Patnaik also admitted that on-ground activations and events could be the way forward for the radio industry. She also said that Choklate was utilizing their print and television properties to provide a more holistic solution to advertisers.

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