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Radio players need to be realistic, deliberate and pragmatic in response to competition from digital audio players: Abraham Thomas of Big FM

Big FM has announced the launch of ‘Big World’, a set of solutions catering to the brand’s clients and advertisers, which aims at making the Big platforms more interactive to drive engagement

Radio network Big FM has recently announced its new business strategy called ‘Big World’. It is a set of solutions catering to the brand’s clients and advertisers, and it aims at making the Big platforms more interactive to drive engagement.

Big World aims to utilise the power of digital media by playing to its strengths in audio creation and exploring newer avenues to increase its customer base.

Big FM announced the new strategy in the metaverse which aimed at showcasing the platform’s technology-driven solutions.

Explaining what Big World exactly is, Sunil Kumaran, COO- Big FM, said, “Big World looks at our strengths and leverages them into the digital environment. Our strengths exist in the 100 plus jocks (Radio Jockey) we have who can create content, not just on radio but also on social platforms. We bring in our understanding of regional markets not only from a consumer perspective but also from a reach perspective. We also understand audio as a format in terms of what works, formats, etc. We also have a state-of-the-art production facility that we have built over time. We have voice artists, creative artists, and sound engineers who can produce content at a speed. So Big World has tapped upon all these strengths we have developed over time and looks at what the digital environment is providing in terms of opportunity. This is what Big World’s vision is.”

As per Kumaran, Big World consists of the following initiatives for brands and advertisers: 

Big Live: It is a vertical dedicated to live events, both on-ground and online. The network has already established Big Cafe online as its flagship offering for online concerts during the last two years.

Big Social: This leverages the rapid growth of digital and has avenues that include gamification, social commerce, and advocacy. The platform has introduced its iconic shows like ‘Suhana Safar with Anu Kapoor’ in a gamified version which can be leveraged in multiple ways. 

With their Rjs already being influencers on radio, the network has now opened them to digital advocacy for branded content. They also recently launched their first social commerce platform Big Living, where they curate brands/products and use the power of influencers to help drive commerce.

Big Voice:  This focuses on Big FM’s expertise when it comes to audio content like podcasts and creating content for smart speakers. In the last one-year, Big FM has successfully provided 200+ episodes of original podcasts across 30+ platforms.

BIG Radio: This is a conglomerate of all the offerings. 

Further talking about the digital audio space, Abraham Thomas, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Limited, said that although the digital audio environment is fast-growing, one cannot ignore the importance of audio techniques that radio players have aced in the past decades. 

“Digital audio players are realising that what is actually driving the growth of digital audio is digital-like experiences. This is what the radio players know really well. Along with technology, the technique is equally important. Radio is best described as a shared connection with human experience. So yes, radio is up against tremendous competition from digital audio players but we need to be realistic, deliberate and pragmatic in our response,” Thomas said. 

He further stated the four ways in which Big FM has tried to tackle the challenges.  The first is to continue to create amazing and engaging programming. Thomas said what makes radio stand out from digital OTT players is the local flavours which create communities in the real world for listeners. Secondly, music IPs are not held by radio, therefore, players have to now focus on creating their own IPs and scaling them.

Thomas also said that the strategy is to be everywhere. He stated that radio stations need to create content to be available on all platforms like digital, on-air and physical. He also suggested collaboration with trusted players and platforms to enhance the listener experience. 

Speaking about what the new business approach brings to the table, Thomas said, “Even though these businesses (new initiatives) are at a nascent stage, the growth rate is very fast. We see them contributing significantly to our revenue in the coming 1-3 years.”

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