How FM radio industry is faring amid COVID-19 crisis

Radio revenues of private FM players grew 5 per cent in the first half of 2019, but fell 18 per cent in the second half on the back of economic slowdown fears, reveals the FICCI-EY annual report on the M&E industry for 2020, titled ‘The Era of Consumer A.R.T.’ However, listenership of radio held its ground. As per the Indian Readership Survey, listenership of FM radio remained stable across the last three studies at 20 per cent. Proportion of urban radio listeners remains almost twice that of the rural listener base.

According to the FICCI-EY report, radio AdEX volumes fell 11 per cent in 2019, with the highest volume falls witnessed in government, auto and retail (clothing, textiles, fashion) sectors. The October-December quarter witnessed the highest fall in ad volumes of over 20 per cent. The report estimates that non-FCT revenues now account for almost 7-8 per cent of total radio segment revenues (as high as 20 per cent for some radio companies). Two-thirds of radio ad volumes in 2019 were delivered by the top five advertising sectors:

Services – 28%

Retail – 11%

Auto – 10%

Food & Beverages – 9%

Banking/ Finance & Investment – 9%

Five states generated 60 per cent of total radio ad volumes, with Maharashtra and Gujarat contributing to the highest ad volumes on radio. The top 10 cities generated 69 per cent of total ad volumes, led by New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Indore. Local advertisers’ share of ad volumes increased 2 per cent over 2018 to reach 26 per cent of total ad volumes in 2019, while national advertisers contributed 74 per cent of ad volumes.


Meanwhile, in view of the severe impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the industry, the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), the industry body of private FM channels, has written to the Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, seeking a bailout package from the Government. The three-pronged bailout package includes a one-year moratorium on all licence fees and charges by the Government and Prasar Bharti, and restoration of government advertising on radio, besides clearing the long-pending payments from the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity.

The FM Radio industry is putting up a brave front during this time of crisis. Right from seamlessly shifting to a Work From Home (WFH) model to upping the entertainment quotient to keep the audiences engaged and entertained, radio networks are leading from the front. Today, radio is at the helm of information dissemination by providing accurate and verified information and being the right mass-appeal platform for the authorities to reach the population. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video conferencing talk with the top Radio Jockeys complimented them on the role of radio in keeping the audience engaged and entertained.

Highlights of the last 4-week ratings from RAM:

  • BIG FM is the #1 station in Kolkata as per the latest RAM data (4 Week Avg: Week 8 - 11 2020), and ranks 2nd in Mumbai & Bengaluru, and 5th in Delhi.
  • Morning Shows: BIG FM is the No. 1 Morning show in Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and No. 3 in Delhi. The radio network airs breakfast shows like ‘Mumbai Maska Maar Ke’ with RJ Vrajesh, ‘Khaas Adda’ with RJ Koushik, and ‘Pataki Mornings’ with RJ Shruti as the No.1 Breakfast Shows in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, respectively. The radio network continues to dominate the East market, with ‘Chirodiner Sur with RJ Pamela’ and ‘Harano Sur with RJ Sumanta’ topping the charts as the No.1 afternoon shows in Kolkata. (RAM | Chirodiner Sur : Mon – Fri 11 AM to 2 PM & Harano Sur : Mon – Fri 2 PM to 5 PM | 25+ All |4 Week Avg (Week 8 - 11 2020)

Commenting on the role of radio in the times of lockdown, Abraham Thomas, CEO, BIG FM, said, “At a time when all other media are battling with challenges of fake news, content creation & production, ground distribution, due to the lockdown, Radio is the only true ‘free to air’ medium, which is live 24x7, is local, is credible and trusted. This crisis has once again demonstrated the true Power of Radio.”


Also Read:

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