[MxM Radio] Prashant Panday on Mirchi in A’Dhabi, what’s wrong in Delhi & how radio ads aren’t rip-offs from TV

10 Feb,2012

By Robin Thomas


Prashant Panday has been with Radio Mirchi right from its inception. He has several achievements to his credits including the phase II roll-out of the company radio stations, and now expanding the FM station to the UAE in association with the Abu Dhabi Media Company. Radio Mirchi is available in 32 markets across India and boasts of commanding a market share of 42 per cent in terms of revenue. Radio Mirchi is a listed radio company and claims to lead in listenership in 25 markets out of the 32 markets.


In conversation with MxMIndia, Mr Panday, who is Executive Director and CEO, Entertainment Network (India) Ltd (ENIL), spoke at length about Radio Mirchi’s foray into the UAE. He also shared his views on why FM listenership is on the decline and why he disagrees with the RAM numbers.


Q: How would you rate the year 2011 for Radio Mirchi? Are you satisfied with the growth numbers that have been thrown up?

No one can say that 2011 was a great year! The first quarter (Jan-March 2011) was of course fantastic, but the next three quarters (April – December) have been very muted for most media companies. For Mirchi, we had a terrific first quarter, decent 2nd and 3rd quarters and a not-too-exciting 4th quarter!


Q: You have recently moved into the UAE – what are the listenership trends in the market there?

The UAE is an extremely important country from an Indian radio station’s perspective. It’s very rich, and its people are much sought after by advertisers. It’s a heterogeneous mix, with many people from South India, UP/Bihar and of course, all over India. Most of the radio listenership in the UAE is in cars. Since many people travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai on a regular basis, there are long drive times and long radio listenership hours. Our research and our initial response data indicates that Mirchi is a much sought after brand in the UAE.


Q: Can you throw some more light on the proposed UAE venture – content, RJ mix, language of songs, etc?

Our associate in the UAE is a well-respected and large media group, whose business includes TV broadcast, newspapers and radio stations. Radio Mirchi in the UAE is similar to Radio Mirchi in Delhi or Mumbai or any of the other Hindi markets. We are largely a contemporary Hindi music station, with a show dedicated to 1990s music in the afternoon and one dedicated to retro music (1960s-80s) in the night just as in India. The RJs are brilliant! They are from India but they are smart enough to adjust to a new country. In any case we want to create a nostalgic feel about being back home in India, and hence we chose India-based RJs to be the voice of Mirchi in the UAE.


Q: What does the launch of an international FM station mean for Radio Mirchi? Is the business model going to be advertising-led or otherwise?

The business model will vary from country to country depending on the regulations of the country; the opportunity there; and the timing. In the UAE, we have a brand licensing agreement with the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC). We provide all programming insights as well as proprietary Mirchi content (not music). We also provide guidance in revenue generation, in which we are particularly good. I cannot share details of the financial agreement with ADM – suffice it to say that it is a win-win deal for both ENIL and ADMC.


Q: Mirchi had no competition in Delhi for a long time, but now the competition has become tough. What went wrong? Did the programming strategies backfire? Because everything seemed to have gone well until there were few changes in programming…

Nothing has gone wrong. The RAM research in Delhi (alone) is flawed. In reality, Fever is the #4 or #5 station in that market. Just check IRS and you will know what I mean. The RAM fieldwork in Delhi has probably been compromised. Not only IRS, we have at least three other research data points – all of which show that Fever is a #4 or #5 brand. We normally do not question any research data – but in the case of Delhi, the error is humongous. Mirchi is by far the leader in Delhi followed by Radio City, Red FM and Big FM. Fever is not even 40 percent of Mirchi in Delhi by IRS.


Q: IRS results too for a while have been highlighting a decline in listenership. Do you agree? What reasons do you attribute to this decline?

Well, there are two factors here. One is that there has been no growth in the number of radio stations for 4-5 years now while in the same time, there has been a surge in the number of TV channels and newspaper editions. So radio is losing out competitively against these two mediums. Secondly, I do feel that IRS may be perhaps under-reporting the reach of all the radio stations. At least, that’s what a comparison of RAM and IRS indicates. While RAM indicates that there are 1.4 crore-odd listeners in Delhi, IRS indicates a figure around 30 percent of this. How can this happen?


Q: Does FM radio lack good creatives or radio commercials? Most of them we hear are a rip-off from television… Do you agree?

This is absolutely wrong. These days, radio creatives are part of a larger campaign plan. Hence all creatives – radio, TV, print – reflect the same basic theme. You may think they are similar because you start with TV and then say radio sounds similar. If you started with radio, you would find TV ads to be a copy! In reality, radio is now integrated into the overall creatives and hence each medium builds uniquely on the same theme.


Q: On a lighter note, what is a typical day like for Mr Prashant Panday, Executive Director and CEO, Entertainment Network (India) Limited?

Making sure my team works really really hard and I spend time writing my blog, or sampling new music, or running in the gym or watching a film or sampling good food at new restaurants or answering queries from inquisitive journos like you!


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.