Sangeeta Tanwar

Radio a perfect fit for IPL: Fun rooting for different city teams

Radio being a local medium equips radio stations with the freedom and flexibility to follow and cheer more than one IPL team in different cities

Radio's biggest strength is the localisation that it offers brands across the country by tweaking the content to match the mood and expectations of listeners in a particular place.

With IPL (Indian Premier League), nothing captures the local 'flavour' of the medium better than the fact that radio networks are busy having fun rooting for more than one team across its city-specific stations.

For example, Radio City, Big FM and Radio One - all three are present in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and each station cheers for its city team - the Delhi Daredevils (DD), Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), while at the same time happily giving away updates for other non-city IPL teams on these as well as other radio stations.

Radio a perfect fit for IPL: Fun rooting for different city teams
Ashit Kukian, chief operating officer and president, ad sales, Radio City, says, "Because of local programming in each station, it becomes far easier for a radio network to ensure that each city's station roots for the city's IPL team, unlike a television network for example."

Radio stations provide IPL coverage by offering score updates, profiling players, pitch-report, sound bytes from cricket players and phone-in messages by listeners.

Kukian points out that as far as programming in different places for IPL teams is concerned, the sentiment and ethos of the city in question are taken into consideration while deciding the tone and manner of the coverage.

Also, the noise is higher for the city team on any radio station as compared to the other IPL team.

This holds true for even radio networks which are official radio partners for more than one IPL team. Fever FM is partnering Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders. Similarly, Big FM, too, has put its weight behind Deccan Chargers (DC) and Kings XI Punjab.

Radio players do not see any ambiguity or clash of interest in promoting two distinct IPL brands (teams) since radio as a medium communicates and reaches out to a city specific audience.

Radio a perfect fit for IPL: Fun rooting for different city teams
"Radio turns out to be a perfect fit for the IPL format," says Anand Chakravarthy, senior vice-president, marketing, Big FM.

He explains that IPL as a format instills pride in the region. It's all about rooting for regionalism and radio makes a perfect match for carrying out on-ground activations and integration for city teams and their local brand advertisers.

Chakravarthy adds, "Punjab Kings XI command a fan following in Chandigarh, Jhalandhar, Amritsar and Punjab. Deccan Chargers enjoy the affection of fans in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad.

The truth is that radio stations in any given city cheer for their city team."

In fact, rooting for one's city team does not in any way deprive a radio network from covering other teams as listeners wish to know the fate of teams other than the home teams.

Radio a perfect fit for IPL: Fun rooting for different city teams
According to Anil Machado, national programming head, Radio One, the tone and intensity of coverage of a particular team in a city is largely guided by listeners' support for the team and their affection for certain players.

The Kolkata crowd for one shows little interest in teams other than KKR. So, one has to respect the sentiment and accordingly produce content in the city.

Machado sees cheering or promoting IPL teams a marketing initiative rather than a programming one.

A case in point is Radio One's local association with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the first edition of the IPL. Celebrating the team's victory, the radio station had distributed CSK branded ladoos to Radio One listeners in Bengaluru.

Machado says, "Moving beyond city loyalty, factors that motivate people to support a particular team is the affinity that they feel for a place where they have been living-working for long or love for individual players. A Bengali living in Bengaluru would cheer for the KKR team but once the team is out of the tournament, he is most likely to root for Royal Challengers."

The point is that people are tuning into radio not only for news of their city teams but rather to have a flavour of the entire IPL tournament and that explains why radio networks are bustling with news about different IPL teams.