Benita Chacko

Fever FM's one-month progress report: Was the rebirth worth it?

  • Fever FM experiences significant revenue growth following its rebranding, with a 25-30% increase in revenue compared to the previous year.

  • Listener behaviour shifts as more people stay engaged with the station, contrasting with the past when listeners frequently switched stations.

  • The network's social and digital platforms attract a younger audience, with the majority now comprising the 18-24 age group.

  • Its rebranding initiative is aimed at making radio as compelling as available digital options. 

Almost a month after Fever FM resurrected from its ‘death’, it seems to have risen like the metaphorical phoenix from the ashes. In the first month since the radio station launched its new brand identity and tagline, Ramesh Menon, CEO, Audio, HT Media Group, says the company’s revenue has seen a significant spike. Compared to February 2023, its revenue has witnessed a 25-30% increase in February 2024.

“February typically represents a slower period, but this year's growth has been unprecedented. Unlike previous years, where February saw a flattening trend, we're experiencing remarkable growth,” he says. 

As per Menon, the radio station has also noticed a significant shift in its listener behaviour — people who tune in are staying engaged, a departure from the past when listeners frequently switched stations. 

Additionally, its social and digital platforms are attracting a younger audience, with a notable increase in subscriptions among the 18-24 age group. This demographic now comprises the majority of its social audience.

"Earlier, our audiences were largely in the age group of 25 to 40 years. We didn't even expect to see a change in social media as well. So we are not just becoming a young radio brand, but by chance, we're also becoming a cool young digital and social brand,” he says.  

So we are not just becoming a young radio brand, but by chance, we're also becoming a cool young digital and social brand.

Now, at least 41% of its audience comes from the 18 to 24 age group. Before the rebrand, it used to be in the range of 24%. “Our subscription is coming from this age group. So if we use that as a surrogate for terrestrial, we believe there is a huge change. Terrestrial data is not as robust as the data we get from these platforms,” he adds.

To make the most of this changing demographic, the network plans to monetise its YouTube channel and leverage its in-house influencers to generate additional revenue. “So that builds another stream of revenue other than the terrestrial scheme,” he says.

The rebranding

The shifting landscape of media consumption demands that radio compete with digital music services. Menon says that its rebranding initiative is aimed at making radio as compelling as available digital options. 

“Over time, brands evolve. When we launched eight to 10 years ago, we were the trendsetters. However, in the intervening years, the market became saturated, and brands began to sound alike. With a surge of digital-native consumers entering the scene, we recognised the need to adapt. To seamlessly transition these individuals between digital and radio platforms, we understood the necessity of a fresh approach,” he says. 

The rebranding was initiated with the very intent to draw in these younger listeners. Its goal is to captivate and retain the digital-native audience by redefining its brand to align with their tastes and preferences. Acknowledging the challenge of engaging consumers already immersed in digital media, he says the network is determined to bridge the gap. 

“Although it is difficult to attract this audience because they are already digital consumers, we believe that there is a way of making that happen and that's why we have undergone this rebrand,” he says.

Its primary aim is to make radio appeal to young people by aligning its music with their preferred digital platforms. It strives for a seamless transition from digital to radio, where listeners find familiarity and resonance. 

"We aim to make radio resonate with young people, mirroring the sound and feel of their preferred social or digital platforms. Fever FM stands out for its curated playlists, aspirational vibes, and distinctiveness from other stations. Our goal is to rekindle interest in radio among young audiences by offering music that resonates with their tastes and preferences, creating a station that feels as close to digital as possible,” he says.

Our goal is to rekindle interest in radio among young audiences by offering music that resonates with their tastes and preferences, creating a station that feels as close to digital as possible.

On January 31, 2024, Fever FM Network unveiled its new brand identity and tagline “Happening Hai”. To mark the transformation, Fever also unveiled a new logo and a new sonic identity christened “The fever whisper”. 

Fever FM's Logos
Fever FM's Logos

The tagline is based on an insight that what's trending on social and digital platforms attracts consumers.

“This led us to the realisation that if something is happening, it should be on Fever, and vice versa. We aim to replicate the digital experience on radio, ensuring consumers encounter engaging content whether scrolling through their digital feeds or tuning in to the radio. This concept of "Happening hai" drives our positioning, emphasising the need for radio to emulate the dynamism of digital platforms. And maybe in two to three years, we will reach a point where if it's on Fever, it must be happening,” he adds. 

The network marked the relaunch with the campaign Fever ka Remote ab Aapke Haath Main Hain (The remote of Fever is in your hands), announcing that its “listeners can now shape their own narratives and curate content on air that resonates with them. Fever listeners will now get to select and cancel songs and playlists on air, choose their RJs, and even curate shows, among other features.”

Menon explains that this format harks back to the 40-year-old concept of ‘Aap Ki Farmaish’, when listeners could request songs, emphasising that it is democratising radio and granting consumers the freedom to choose content. Feedback channels include messaging on digital and social platforms, participating in ‘Play with Fever’, or calling the radio station. “Our goal is to enhance interactivity and engagement, allowing everyone to shape the radio station's content.”

To cater to everyone’s diverse ear for music, the network has established the station's vibe—a youthful, aspirational and melodic sound. By adhering to this principle, it intends to streamline song selection, focusing on what resonates with its target audience. 

“While we prioritise songs that fit our station's vibe, we're open to consumer suggestions that align with our framework. Just like curating a personal playlist, we aim to reflect listener preferences within the station's identity,” he says.

Traditionally, listeners tend to switch stations when they encounter music that doesn't resonate with them. It also wants to ensure that every song played on the station maintains listener engagement. Adopting digital terminology, Menon says it aims to increase time spent listening (TSL) by providing a consistent, enjoyable listening experience. 

“Our goal is to reduce tune-outs by aligning our music selection with listeners' preferences, ultimately enhancing TSL. I am hoping that my TSL will go up by at least five to six times from what it was before,” he says.

However, currently, it does not have any methodology to measure TSL. “I'm confident we'll find a solution. Research data, while limited to specific geographies, offers some insights. We're working on implementing a system to gather more comprehensive data, which will improve our understanding,” he says.

Moreover, it aims to make ads more appealing, moving away from loud, intrusive formats towards a more relaxed and engaging approach. The emphasis is on creating a cohesive listening experience that encourages listeners to stay tuned in, embracing chill vibes over high-energy interruptions.

Death and subsequent resurrection

To communicate this change to its audience, the brand has undertaken a 5-phase campaign, which will be primarily driven by social and terrestrial mediums. The campaign kicked off with Menon putting out a video message on LinkedIn on January 30 stating that the company has "made the difficult decision to shut down" its radio station. About nine hours later, he put out another message that revealed the strategic rebranding exercise. The faux demise, however, garnered mixed reactions with many criticising the media network for such marketing tactics.

In support of the strategy, Menon says a regular relaunch wouldn't have sufficed and it needed something substantial to make a difference. 

“We needed to make a significant impact to achieve our goals, shaking both listeners and customers out of their complacency towards the category, the medium, and our brand. Despite the high risk, we managed to execute it well because our intent was sincere—we were genuinely transforming, and it was not a mere gimmick. Our radio station today is markedly different from six months ago, reflecting our commitment to change. Our aim was not merely to market with a new tagline but to truly stand out and differentiate ourselves from other radio stations.

Menon says the campaign helped reestablish the relevance of radio as an effective advertising medium and also of the brand. Radio had become largely overlooked by marketers, and overshadowed by digital media. Secondly, the brand had begun to lose its relevance over time. Through the campaign, it aimed to enhance awareness both for the radio industry and for the brand. 

"The response we received, starting from our LinkedIn post to subsequent social media engagements, exceeded our expectations. I don't think if we had spent crores of rupees on this also we would be able to achieve the kind of awareness that we have,” he says.

I don't think if we had spent crores of rupees on this also we would be able to achieve the kind of awareness that we have.

This heightened awareness has also facilitated smoother interactions for its sales teams, easing the process of securing appointments with potential clients and agencies.

The campaign will continue to unfold over the next two to three months and will eventually culminate in the launch of a jingle, co-created with consumers. It plans to invite audience participation, starting with playlist creation, leading to more extensive interactions and contests, including the creation of the station's jingle.

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