Most radio listeners still at home, says ORG Marg

MUMBAI: Not in the car; and not in the local trains. Over 90 per cent of FM radio listeners are currently still at home.

Most of the listeners are not high brow SEC A & B, but the great Indian lower middle classes

That's the finding ORG Marg has come up with, during its recently concluded radio audience measurement study, the first of its kind in the country. The study, done in Mumbai among 930 randomly selected 15 year old and above individuals, also established the fact that it is the SEC D and E listeners who are tuning in the most. Hip RJs with the cultivated accents may soon have to be on their way out.

Not surprisingly, the channel that registered top of mind awareness was Vividh Bharati, the public broadcast channel that generations of Indians have grown up on. The fledgling private FM channels are but a blip on the screen for many listeners, although Radio Mirchi does manage to come in a poor third after Vividh Bharati and All India Radio's FM1. AIR's FM2 follows closely behind while Radio City, Win 94.6 and Go 92.6 don't have much of audience attention. The newly launched Red FM, from the India Today stable, does not even figure in the stakes.

Gender wise too, there is only a slight skew towards the male in the listenership, according to the study. 58 per cent of radio listeners in the city are male. A meager 12 per cent of these belong to the advertiser's darling SEC A, while just 14 per cent to SEC B. A huge chunk of the listenership (45 per cent) comes from the SECs D and E, while 29 per cent belongs to SEC C.

Analysis of radio channels by time slots shows that the morning peaks (7 am to 11.30 am) are higher than the evening peaks (7 pm to 11 pm). While most advertisers as well as private radio channels have been assuming that the average listener is the 18 to 34 year old executive driving to and from work in the metropolis, the truth may lie somewhere in between. ORG Marg executives believe that with the proliferation of miniature FM receivers, the listenership patterns in Mumbai could change drastically in the coming months, the results of the just concluded survey will enable radio players to know what to charge advertisers, and also tailor the content, says the research agency. Radio currently commands barely 1.5 per cent of the total ad pie in the country. While the radio scenario is still in a nebulous stage in India, a technical committee of all major broadcasters, ad agencies, ad houses, advertisers and media-buying houses headed by media research guru Praveen Tripathi has been convened to decide the best research method for Indian conditions.

While there is no radio audience measurement system available in the country so far, the study was conducted via interviews using a structured questionnaire. While the diary method (requiring selected respondents to record their listenership in a pre-coded diary) was believed to be too tedious for the Indian scenario, ORG Marg relied on the recall method, where respondents were asked about yesterday listenership (listenership on the day previous to the interview). The agency also toyed with the idea of using wrist meters ( a method popular in Switzerland), which use microchips fitted in the meters to encode sounds and record listeners' preferences.

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