What has Mirchi done in online video so far?
We have a very strong YouTube
business. We are among the top 10-20 independent channels on YouTube(over 8 million subscribers), along with TVF and Pocket Aces. We made and released six hours of original video content in Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi and other languages. This year, we have done 25 hours of content — 15 were sold to MX Player (a Times Group brand) and another 10 are under negotiation with Voot and Hotstar. Next year, we want to go to 100 hours.Our strategy is RRS — regional, reach and snacking. We will focus on regional content, use the radio reach to sell to clients and the content will be of the snacking variety. We make 10-minute episodes. We are not in the Netflix, Amazon
universe and we have no illusions of being in that space. We believe this (snacking) is what drives the volumes in that space. And there are lots of clients who don't want to spend crores of rupees, they want to spend Rs 10 lakh or Rs 20 or Rs 40 lakh.
The market is awash with content firms..
When we started in 2000, we had said ENIL would be India's largest city-centric media company. We had radio, out-of-home (OOH ) and events — they were all city-centric. That is the pivot on which the business was made. ENIL is India's largest city-centric (instead of radio) music and entertainment company. That is what separates us from Star TV, Amazon
My core strengths are these 63 offices and the 1,100 people in those offices, and I will leverage that.
All of this growth is coming from the same team. We have 350 creative people and 550 sales people, among others. The creative people already paid for by the radio business. So whatever content I make I have zero incremental cost. Our 550 sales people have access to 10,000 clients, others (such as Pocket Aces) won't have that.
Radio is under some threat because not all phones now offer an FM tuner..
Look at IRS (Indian Readership Study) data on radio over two years — radio listenership across devices has grown from 104 million (in 2017) to 105 million (in the latest 2019 IRS). Even (listenership on) number of mobile phones has grown 99 million to 113 million. The interesting thing is car listenership is rising. The number of male listeners and those who are above 35 years is increasing. Women have given way to men now, that is a big change in the past five to seven years.
Why is that?
Because devices have changed. Women would consume it largely on older phones. Now almost half the newer phones come without FM, so, where would they consume it. Also 10 years ago, afternoon programming wasn't there on television. So, for the women, television has become far more prominent over five to seven years. However, FM is available on the lower-end phones. So, you are not losing the high-end listeners but that listenership is shifting. At the lower end, the whole Jio phenomenon has given a new lease of life to radio because they hope to sell 500 million of their Rs 1,500 phones, all of them FM enabled.
Is there a fundamental threat to the medium?
There is a fundamental threat to the medium as defined by FM waves. But there is no threat to the product that is a mix of music, local content, funnies and even personalities. Companies
that are purely radio-dependent will see a slowdown.