India Radio Forum: Unlike TV, Radio is a mobile medium

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | May 28, 2009
At the India Radio Forum, 2009, L V Krishnan from TAM Media Research pointed out how radio could be as lucrative a medium as television

The India Radio Forum, held at the Taj Lands End, Bandra, saw the presence of the top honchos of India's radio industry, to share their ideas and views on the various issues affecting radio.

L V Krishnan, chief executive officer, TAM Media Research shared some insights on how radio could be on par with television, in terms of being lucrative to advertisers.

Krishnan emphasised that the focus of RAM -- the Radio Audience Measurement tool -- is to increase the share of radio in an advertiser's pie. Currently, he stated, television garners ten times more advertising spends than radio.

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In the 18-month long study that RAM conducted across four markets -- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru -- the research agency learned what advertisers thought of radio as an advertising medium.

Advertisers wanted to know whether or not radio was able to reach enough people. They felt that radio, as a medium, is skewed towards male/youth listeners, while the target group that the advertiser wants to communicate with is the womenfolk.

Another notion that advertisers harbour is that radio is a low-engagement medium.

Krishnan provided details that put such doubts to rest. He stated that radio has majority listenership during the day, of about 12 million; while television aggregates a viewership of 16 million in the evening primetime slot. However, even in the later half of the day, about 10 million people are still listening to radio.

Radio reaches 83 per cent of its audience by 10 am; when television has reached only 60 per cent of its audience. TV has a gradual buildup since the afternoon.

Radio dominates the early and mid-morning sections, and it's only in the evening that television surpasses the audience reach that radio has attained in the day. "Yet in the evening, radio isn't down and out," Krishnan pointed out.

RAM's research indicates that in terms of hours spent, radio is at par with television. However, the study also shows that engagement levels are better in Kolkata and Bengaluru, while TV dominates in Mumbai and Delhi.

Radio is consumed more on weekdays as compared to weekends, when its visual rival takes over.

The study also uncovered that, on an average, there exists no age, SEC (socio-economic classification) or gender differences among audiences that consume television or radio. For instance, 29 per cent women, mainly housewives, watched television during the afternoons and a close 30 per cent listened to the radio.

In the past year, radio consumption has grown considerably, said Krishnan. "Overall, the consumption of TV is flattening out," he added. Digitisation of television has caused further fragmentation in the TV world.

The increase in radio consumption is also due to the fact that the medium can be consumed out-of-home and "on the go", making it a mobile medium. In 2007, out-of-home consumption accounted for 16 per cent of the radio audience in Mumbai; while in 2009, that number has increased to 25 per cent.

Krishnan concluded by highlighting the factors that are to the advantage of advertisers. For instance, FMCG brands that want to target housewives alone could benefit from radio.