To say that growth of private FM in the country has been slow and painstaking would be quite an understatement. Apart from the Entertainment Network-promoted Radio Mirchi, Radio Today-promoted Red FM, Radio City from Music Broadcast, and Suryan and Visakha promoted by the SUN Network, no other media entity operating in the private FM space has a multi-city presence.
After two years of a roller coaster ride fraught with frequent carping about disproportionate licence fees, the need for a revenue share model and above all, more stations, it is time to take stock of the consumers of radio. Who are they? And which target groups in particular are radio stations after?
"Bulk of the listenership varies from time band to time band, though housewives and students are the key drivers," states Sameer Soni, station head, Mumbai, Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM. Mirchi's listenership spreads across the four metros and three cities of Pune, Indore and Ahmedabad. "From a macro point of view, car listenership is minuscule compared to the listenership at home. Car listenership varies from 1-2 per cent of the total listenership from city to city," he adds.
If one is surprised with this statistic, especially when the cities of Mumbai and Delhi account for higher drive time compared to other towns and metros, a simple count of the number of cars and the occupancy level would clear the fog. "Mumbai has 2 lakh cars," states Soni. "On an average, you have 1 to 1.5 lakh cars plying on the roads every day. Taking an occupancy level of 2 people, FM music is available to a maximum of 3 lakh people while the population of Mumbai is 160 lakh and those in the age group of 15-plus account for 130 lakh of the total population. Hence, car listenership really accounts for 1-2 per cent of the total listenership."
Again, drive time listenership is driven by the penetration of cars and Delhi ranks highest on that count considering that private transport is the dominant means of movement in the capital city. "Drive time listenership is bound to be high in Delhi," avers a radio research executive.
Coming down to the listenership profile in terms of demographics, the picture is skewed towards getting in the numbers. "The focus is on the 15 to 34 age-group spanning socio-economic classes (SEC) A, B and C," states Soni about Mirchi's demographic profile. "And this segment addresses about 12 lakh listeners," he adds.
93.5 Red FM, on the other hand, caters to a slightly older audience with its priority segment being the 25-plus age group in socio economic classes A, B. "However, our second priority is the 18-25 or 12-25 age groups in SEC A, B," states Aditya Patwardhan, station director, 93.5 Red FM, Mumbai. "Though broadly speaking, these are our target audiences, our programming, at the same time, is generic and localised, implying that other target groups can tune in as well."
Vishnu Athreya, manager, programming and brand, of Mumbai-based GO 92.5 FM prefers classifying his station's listenership profile in the following manner, "For us, it is the sound of a fun, young Mumbai, and anything we do is in respect with that. Demographically, however, we are looking at the 15-44 age group in socio economic classes A and B with our core audience being in the age group of 15-35."
Clearly, being youthful is an overriding factor with these channels, with the packaging, promos, station identity, the music played by the jockeys with a thrust on post-1990s music both in Hindi and English - all geared to delivering a younger audience. Explains Soni of Radio Mirchi, "India is a young nation where the bulk of the population, approximately 70 per cent, is less than 35 years of age. It isn't surprising that most stations are trying to address this segment."
An Initiative Media study titled IM Radio Track released in January 2003 and subsequently in May 2003 points at the preference for latest Hindi film music among students (primarily in college) in Mumbai. "Eighty-seven per cent of the respondents (who were students) in the first track said they prefer listening to latest Hindi film music while in the second track the figure stood at 78 per cent. Interestingly, preference for English music has increased with 36 per cent expressing their desire to listen to English music in the first study while in the second track the figure stood at 53 per cent," says Partho Ghosh, AVP, Initiative Media.
Despite the craze for latest numbers, "retro music" too has been getting its fair share of attention, at times becoming the key differentiator. Mumbai-based Win 94.6, for instance, has a prime time show titled Khanak between 9.00 pm to 12.00 pm, which has gained popularity for its nostalgic take on music. "Win has been trying to establish itself as the evergreen music station," states Sundeep Nagpal, managing director, Stratagem Media, and an avid radio listener and keen observer of the business. "Roshan Abbas, the veejay in Khanak, for example, is well read about the history of music, treating it seriously."
What differentiates one station from the other is its "stationality", according to Soni of Mirchi. However, with most stations looking at the largest possible demographic profile, one only hopes that attempts at differentiation persist providing a greater variety of music to the ears. © 2003 agencyfaqs!