FM Radio revenues witness seasonal slump in Q4-16, Q1-17

BENGALURU: Generally the Indian private FM industry witnesses a quarter-over-quarter (q-o-q) advertisement (ad) revenue slump in the first quarter of every year (Q1, quarter ended 30 June), which may sometimes carry over to the second quarter (Q2, quarter ended 30 September) of the fiscal. Since fiscal 2014, the industry has also seen fourth quarter (Q4, quarter ended 31 March) revenue slumps. Continuing the trend, private FM in India has seen a drop in revenue for quarters ended 31 March 2016 (Q4-16) and 30 June 2016 (Q1-17). As mentioned above trend was noticed Q4-14 and Q1-15 onwards, when the country held general elections and political parties used this so very local medium to garner votes.

As per data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), for Q1-17, 244 radio stations had consolidated ad revenues of Rs 468.08 crore, down 9.81 percent q-o-q as compared to the Rs 514.75 crore reported by 242 stations in Q4-16. The last quarter of the previous fiscal also saw ad revenue decline of 4.35 percent from Rs 533.70 crore reported for its immediate quarter that ended on 31 December 2015 (Q3-15).

Please refer to Figure A below for FM Radio Ad Revenue over a five year plus period spanning a 21 quarter period starting with the quarter ended 30 June 2011 (Q1-12) until the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q1-17) as per TRAI data. The amounts are in Rs crore and rounded off to the nearest decimal place.


As is obvious from the red dots on the chartabove, Q1-12, Q1-13, Q1-14, Q1-15, Q1-16 and Q1-17 have all seen q-o-q revenue drops, as have Q4-14, Q4-15 and as mentioned above- Q4-16.

Figure B below shows the q-o-q and year-over-year FM Radio Ad revenue trends. Generally y-o-y, revenues have been higher across all quarters in the period under consideration in this report, except for Q3-12 that saw a y-o-y ad revenue decline. For Q3-11, TRAI Indicator Reports mentioned ad revenue of Rs 284.88 crore from 227 radio stations or an average revenue of Rs 1.25 crore per station, as compared to ad revenue per station of Rs 1.20 crore for Q3-12.



Overall, despite the year-end andnew fiscal drops, ad revenues as well as ad revenues per station show a linear increasing trend as more and more advertisers have begun to understand the value proposition this very local medium with a pan-India footprint can offer. Further, the third quarter of the fiscal (Q3, quarter ended 31 December) is also the festival quarter of the year in India ? a sweet quarter as far as the radio industry is concerned. The industry should see revenues rising in Q3-17.

 A few of the companies such as JagranPrakashan that has large networks like Radio City and Entertainment Network India Limited (ENIL) which has the Radio Mirchi network in the country have already started operations of the new stations that they obtained in the FM Phase 3 auctions. The revenue of the new stations acquired in phase 3 auctions by other players such as Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL, Big FM) and HT Media Limited (Hindustan Times fame, Fever FM) if/once they start operations this fiscal, the radio industry should report substantial revenue increases. Profitability may take a hit initially, but over time that too is bound to change for the better.

Results for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 of companies whose financials are within the public domain can at the most be termed a mixed bag. While ENIL has reported a growth in revenue, its profit after tax ? both on a y-o-y and a q-o-q basis have been hit with a70.3 percent y-o-y decline and a51.7 percent q-o-q decline.

ENIL won 17 stations in Phase 3 auctions and has launched 4 new stations in Q2-17 ? at Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Surat and Jaipur. Earlier the company had launched Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Kochi stations. Bengaluru wasRadio Mirchi?s first launch in the second frequencies network.

However, ENIL managing director and CEO Prashant Panday is upbeat. In ENIL?s Q2-17 results press release he said, ?We have stepped up marketing spends and early research indicates that we have made a strong start and in fact have become leaders in key markets. I am confident this will translate into a stronger business in the years ahead!?

Note:The unit of currency in this report is the Indian rupee - Rs (also conventionally represented by INR).The Indian numbering system or the Vedic numbering system has been used to denote money values. The basic conversion to the international norm would be:

(a) 100,00,000 = 100 lakh = 10,000,000 = 10 million = 1 crore.

(b) 10,000 lakh = 100 crore = 1 arab = 1 billion.

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