Even as Radio Mirchi made all the right noises at its 'official launch' in Chennai yesterday, initial signals about what is really hot seems to be emerging already. According to a Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) study undertaken by Audio-Visual Research Centre (AVRC) at Anna University, SUN Network's Suryan FM is the "leader" among the private FM operators in Chennai. In an area that has little research and data to fall back on, where media planners mostly go by a combination of gut feel and dip-stick surveys, this independent research can give some pointers, if nothing else.
The findings of the study show that the average weekly awareness of Suryan FM is 54 per cent, followed by Rainbow FM (from the AIR stable) with 35 per cent, Radio Mirchi with 30 per cent and Gold FM (AIR) with 14 per cent. The average listenership shows that Suryan FM has 35 per cent share, Mirchi has 21 per cent, Rainbow 20 per cent and Gold has 7 per cent. The day-wise awareness of Suryan ranged between a low of 34 percent and a high of 70 per cent; for Mirchi it fluctuated between 19 per cent and 42 per cent; for Rainbow it recorded 28-48 per cent and Gold hovered at 7-23 per cent.
Mind you, this is not just another study. Anna University is rated among the lead education institutions in the state. It offers higher education in electronic media and has a full-fledged department (AVRC) that keeps working on independent researches to aid the understanding of media. "We do such researches to aid our academic interest and learning," Dr P Govindaraju, research scientist, AVRC (Anna University), told agencyfaqs!.
The Centre has come out with two findings on radio listenership this month. During the first week of May, the research concentrated on a field survey covering 10 blocks. In the second week, the scale was enlarged and it carried out a telephonic survey on the listenership of FM channels in Chennai between May 12 and 18.
A person who is 10-years-plus and is part of a household that has an FM set constituted the population of the study. A minimum of 100 households were chosen per day (at random), making a total of 622 households for the week. The channels surveyed included FM Rainbow, FM Gold, Suryan FM and Radio Mirchi.
According to the study, the time for listening to radio depend upon various factors, including the access, availability of leisure time and the choice of programming. The maximum listenership was found in the mornings - between 6.00 am and 8.00 am (27.8 per cent) - followed by night, around 10.00 p.m (20.5 per cent). Evening listenership was high with 15 per cent tuning in to radio between 6.00 and 8.00 pm.
However, not everyone is impressed with the study. Mirchi, for one, is dismissive. "We believe market research is the area of experts and professionals from organisations that are specific to that domain only," says G Sharath Chandra, station head, Radio Mirchi, Chennai. "Internationally, research agencies spend enormous amount of resources to develop tools to understand consumers/listenership/viewership patterns and behaviour. Therefore, all professional marketers and reputed ad agencies rely on professional MR agencies as the only basis of evaluating feedback from listeners. They do not accord any significance to research studies on consumers/listenership/viewership patterns done by students/amateurs."
Chandra added, "Just as research agencies believe in delivering the service of research and not in teaching students 'how to do research', universities are good at teaching students various subjects and cannot really have the expertise to deliver this service to serious market leaders and agencies."
Point noted. On its part, SUN Network chose to shrug off the whole affair. "Anna University is a respected and leading institution, the research was independent and the methodology seems fairly evolved. We are happy that Suryan has done well, but that is no reason for us to get carried away or rest on our laurels. We have to keep working at improving our offering," stated W Hansraj Saxena, vice-president, programming, SUN TV. © 2003 agencyfaqs!