Radio Market is Fragmenting Fast at the top 10 city level :Vineet Singh Hukmani

Media Newsline spoke to Vineet Singh Hukmani, CEO , Radio One 94.3FM regarding the future of FM Radio in India and future strategy of Radio One to stay in the market. Excerpts:

MNL: How Radio One’s approach was different as regards business operations:

Vineet Singh Hukmani: ‘We have always focussed on maximizing business yield at the current level of business investment before we expand to the next level, so you can call our approach more ‘mid term entrepreneurial’ versus ‘long term speculative’.

MNL: Does Radio One plan to invest heavily in phase 3:

Vineet Singh Hukmani: ‘We will continue our ‘current business’ consolidation strategy which should put us in a stronger position financially before we commence our careful journey into phase 3 licensing in the next financial year. We will be a focussed ‘consolidator of metro/mini metro business’ and not an expansive ‘dominator of geographies’ and that is clear to us’

MNL: Can you comment on growth and ROI benchmarks followed by Radio One:

Vineet Singh Hukmani: ‘We are in a unique industry where the market leader, inspite of having a significant share of market, is not ‘yet’ positive at PAT level which is literally unheard of in any other sector of business. So benchmarking becomes really difficult for a newer and smaller player like us’. This had put us in a ‘forced to think’ position last year and as a result we did not give in to the pitfalls/myths of so called ‘economies of geographical expansion’ or ‘disproportionate brand building expenditure’ before we were sure where the radio category was really headed.

MNL: How competitive is the radio advertising pie and how does Radio One handles this fiercely competitive scenario:

Vineet Singh Hukmani: Frankly, the market is fragmenting really fast at the top 10 city level and there is enough choice for clients to pick any FM station brand. We have done well as we have not charged our clients for spill-over into non-targeted lower SEC audiences and have therefore kept pricing commensurate with inventory and relevant audience demand. We did not pre-decide our value versus volume mix ‘nationally’ as a competitive market calls for dynamic and localized pricing which our de-centralized structure allows. Needless to say, a healthy combination of value and volume both have both contributed to our super normal growth in national figures.

MNL: Can you tell us about Radio One’s growth with respect to listeners and current ranking:

Vineet Singh Hukmani: It’s been a year since RAM began and inspite of a largely non-differentiated FM environment we have held our own with our listeners again keeping ourselves above the average industry growth curve. We clearly have a share of 17-18% of listenership across our markets over a 52 week period and are innovating constantly to improve the same within our core audience set of SEC AB 18-34. We can easily say we are number 2 in Delhi or the number one Bollywood station in Bangalore but what really shows is how efficiently we are monetizing this share of market, so rankings in isolation really have no meaning.

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