Radio plus digital is set to be the new normal for listeners, believes Abraham Thomas, chief executive officer at Reliance Broadcast Network Limited.
“We accelerated our foray into web radio to increase our footprint and create newer touch points for our consumers. Being more platform-agnostic in our approach has certainly helped us stay ahead of the game and enabled us to reach out to our listeners in a far better manner,” Thomas told IANS.
Big FM forays into the digital space with the launch of its new platform, BRO, or Big Radio Online. The company’s evolution into a fullblown audio entertainment network started in March before the lockdown, but Thomas feels the lockdown has enabled an upswing in media consumption habits of digital and radio. The launch of BRO, in this regard, has been an important milestone.
“Earlier bigfmindia.com had transformed itself to an OTT-esque platform enabling easier access to our audio and video podcasts etc. We have also entered into multiple partnerships with audio streaming services, making our content available to newer global audiences. Our other platform, buyadsonbigfm.com, enables the huge MSME communities online access to create solutions, packages which they can buy and make payments for online as well. Each offering of ours has been a step closer towards becoming a holistic audio entertainment company,” said Thomas.
BRO intends to provide an immersive audio experience through podcast content coupled with music.
“The fact that it is online and can be consumed 24/7, anytime and anywhere by the listener, sets it apart from other radio stations. Its content spanning across genres and the manner of delivery will also be distinctive. Shedding light on a host of genres, these shows aim to forge an emotional connection by catering to the different aspects concerning the youth. If there is a subject related to the young adults, rest assured that BRO will have a show that caters to that emotion and present the listeners with a fresh perspective,” he said.
Catering mainly to the Hindi-speaking market, it will feature light-hearted radio drama series like “Teri Meri Stories”, interview-based show featuring Bollywood celebrities, relevant and informative shows, and much more.
Bollywood actors and singers have served as RJS. Should people expect any artiste associating with their shows?
“Owing to their growing fandom amongst our listeners, having eminent Bollywood actors and singers as an RJ helps the brand amplify the core message in its countless campaigns and initiatives. Our long-standing association with celebrities and singers shall be seen in the shows and campaigns to come as they highlight a host of topics that concern the youth of today. Our show ‘Big Star Exchange’ on BRO will feature a host of celebrities as they engage in a fun interaction,” said Thomas.
The lockdown has been tough for many people and industries. On how it has affected the radio industry, he shared: “Standing the true test of time, radio has always overcome adversity and difficult times on every occasion. Maintaining a positive outlook has seen the industry well into the recovery stage. This sense of optimism arises from the rise in viewership and time spent by listeners over the past few months.”
“Findings of a recent study, conducted by the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), revealed that 82 percent of the population tuned into radio during the COVID-19 lockdown. The average daily time spent listening to radio increased by 23 percent up to 2 hours 36 minutes daily during this period. The study also reported that radio listening at home has moved up from 64 percent to 86 percent underlining the love of the medium.”
He pointed out that the first two months of lockdown did see a steep decline with respect to the cut in ad spends by advertisers including the government. However, the industry is well on its road to recovery.