Tier 2 and 3 markets have contributed significantly to Big FM's growth: Abe Thomas

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo, Thomas, CEO of Big FM, mentioned that the competition from new media and the challenge of accurately measuring audience metrics—an obstacle not faced by digital platforms—can be overcome through strategic solutions from the industry as a whole

Sakshi Sharma
New Update
Tier 2 and 3 markets have contributed significantly to Big FM's growth: Abe Thomas

Abe Thomas

The recommendations presented by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to tackle significant challenges in the radio industry signal a promising shift for the entire sector, said Abe Thomas, CEO of Big FM. He asserted that the potential implementation of these changes is anticipated to stimulate heightened adoption, thereby drawing in a new influx of both listeners and advertisers.

It will additionally contribute to further strengthening the medium in tier 2 and tier 3 markets, Thomas said.

In an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Thomas emphasised that in 2023, Big FM has experienced good growth in volume and pricing. The radio channel has also witnessed substantial growth in its solutions business. Radio + Digital + Onground has become a mainstay of providing comprehensive solutions for their partners.

“The incorporation of audio shorts, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and gamification amongst others has played a pivotal role. Taking the lead with our BIG World offerings and putting major emphasis on regional markets has been a game changer for us. Growth has been driven by tier 2 and tier 3 markets in a substantial manner,” he added. 

With the radio advertising landscape evolving, Thomas explained how Big FM aims to maintain its position as a leading market player, and what strategies are in place to attract more advertisers.

“We have a whole bunch of offerings up our sleeve planned for the new year. This includes bringing new seasons of our marquee properties, scaling up our on-ground activations, exploring multiple digital avenues and amping up the momentum in general. We are extremely optimistic about 2024 as we are committed to strengthening our efforts, aiming to create memorable experiences for our audience online and offline,” Thomas said.

“At Big FM, we strategically adapt to the evolving advertising landscape by going beyond the traditional radio platform. As a brand which provides radio plus offerings, our emphasis is on being a solution-based company, aiming to meet advertisers' expectations through comprehensive and cohesive solutions,” he added.

Furthermore, he went on to say that these are tailored to cater to the specific needs and expectations of advertisers, ensuring a dynamic and effective approach in an ever-changing advertising landscape.

Thomas also highlighted that while radio is a very competitive industry, what sets Big FM apart is its solid yet unique brand positioning and content approach.

“Our brand philosophy of ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’, is seeped in each of our offerings as we aim to provide entertainment with a purpose. We are the pioneers in storytelling and timeless music. Our partnerships are also firmly grounded in providing holistic solutions, allowing us to connect with a broader audience through a platform agnostic approach, making Big FM the preferred choice for both advertisers and listeners in the radio landscape,” he added.

While highlighting some of the biggest challenges the radio industry is facing today, Thomas emphasised that one major hurdle is the competition from new media and the difficulty in accurately measuring audience metrics—an obstacle not faced by digital platforms.

“Overcoming these challenges requires strategic solutions from the industry as a whole. By combining radio, digital and on-ground, we can demonstrate outcomes for our clients,” he added.

Thomas, while explaining in what ways Big FM is leveraging AI, said that it has become an integral part of the radio business, from content creation and production to marketing, distribution, analytics and monetisation, it is being used in every aspect.

“At Big FM, we leveraged the power of AI for our initiative ‘Super Duper Dhamaka season 2’, where we promoted small-scale businesses through a blend of radio and technology. This innovative campaign, supported by actor Sonu Sood not only strengthened retail communities but also provided a platform for advertisers and consumers to explore new opportunities,” he said.

“Our AI-enabled video chatbot ensured hyper-personalised experiences, fostering interaction and engagement. We have some innovative offerings lined up in this space which we will disclose later,” he added.  

Furthermore, Thomas said that TRAI recommendations for the radio industry, which came out last year, surely indicate a positive change for the industry. The removal of content restrictions, the mandate for FM chips in mobile phones and potential shifts in revenue sharing signal a promising era for the industry.

These changes, if implemented, are expected to drive increased adoption, attracting a fresh wave of listeners and advertisers. He added that it will also help further strengthen the medium in tier 2 and tier 3 markets.

Abe said that the government's rate revision for advertisements on private FM radio stations is a welcome move and will have a positive impact on the industry.

"We are estimating a potential 25% increase in revenue for the medium," he added.

Thomas pointed out that in the radio advertising landscape, the leading categories currently include real estate, automobile, health and pharma, accessories, media and entertainment, FMCG, and BFSI.

“Looking forward, this year is poised for increased advertising in categories such as construction, government and political, industrial products, jewellery (accessories), automobile (EV), BFSI (insurance and fintech), and health, pharma and fitness,” he added.

While many radio players have expressed the need for increased government advertising,  Thomas, while sharing his views, said that national and state government advertising is still an important component of radio. Various factors, including the emergence of new digital platforms, have resulted in a decline in government advertising for the medium.

“However, the government is using radio quite effectively to reach the masses, a great example being ‘Mann Ki Baat’. It is also doing numerous integrated multi-platform campaigns with radio. Owing to the medium’s strengths of being real-time and hyperlocal, radio is surely the perfect medium to engage with the people at large,” he added.


radio Big FM categories government advertising Abe Thomas radio industry TRAI recommendations year-ender radio sector