Much before Social Media arrived, there was already a social network – and it goes by the name of radio. It allowed you to connect with people and ideas in targeted communities or beyond, for free. In those days, and even today we had / still have the concept of Ham Radio, a form of Amateur Radio that brings people together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world and it binds them together as a community. It’s social, it’s educational, and it can be a lifeline during times of need. This is possibly the reason what makes radio unique and the reason behind its longevity.
Something down the line happened. And we have a situation today when more often than not; Radio is referred to and perceived as a poor cousin to Print & TV. Share of Radio in the advertising revenue pie of India is just about 4% to 5%. Worldwide, the share of radio is close to 9%. In the countries like US where radio has developed well, radio’s share in the overall advertising pie is higher than the worldwide average.
But, radio will not be what it once was. Today with Spotify, Pandora, podcasting and all the rest, the lines between radio and music-listening have blurred, making it difficult to distinguish what’s what. Digital radio is gaining popularity, backed by increased device adoption. Internet radio listening has rapidly become a mobile experience for consumers; streaming radio is one of the most mobile of digital media consumption categories. The definition of radio is slowly by surely changing.
Another critical trend that impacts both Internet and Broadcast radio is that consumers are increasingly listening to music while engaged in other activities. Many of these activities are referred to as ultramobile, since consumers are on the go. With multitasking being a way of life amongst the youth today, this is good news for advertisers. It represents an opportunity to connect with consumers during parts of their lives when they are otherwise unreachable.
Leveraging technology to create compelling formats that has mass-appeal and engages audiences across platforms including live entertainment properties has to play a big role. Content is to be delivered to people in a way that they choose to consume. The radio future is platform agnostic – it doesn’t matter whether consumers turn on their radio, television, computer, laptops, iPads or their mobile device or participate in a LIVE event to access content.
Add to this the fact that India’s mobile internet users is expected touch 314 million by 2017 and further grow to touch 500 Million by 2020; the future seems completely different.
At the same time government regulation like allowing News & Current Affairs will be imperative to unleash the true potential of this powerful medium. Like the News Television Industry, this will expand the market size apart from harnessing new creative talent.
As with all sectors within the media, it’s critical that one innovates and re-defines the business with a completely new outlook and one can be sure of exciting new times for this powerful medium.