| 22 May 2024
We are getting into the game of creating experiences: Indigo CEO Satya Narayana Murthy

MUMBAI: After a decade in the business of being one of the few successful radio networks playing international music in India, Radio Indigo is now going national.

Interestingly, it hasn’t taken the conventional FM phase III route to achieve its goal. While other radio networks are consolidating their positions by strengthening their pan India presence, Indigo is steadily building a digital platform that will allow users to experience and explore music as well as enable connect. It is also stealthily entering the content partnership space in radio – although no announcements are yet forthcoming.

In the words of Indigo CEO Satya Narayana Murthy, “Indigo is planning to go beyond terrestrial, we are getting into the game of creating experiences.”  

These are not experiences that people can buy, but are experiences that are being curated and sructured for the Indigo audience, defined as the young at heart 18 to 44 year olds. As a first step, the Indigo website has gone in for an entire overhaul. Christened Indigo XP, it explores different happenings and trends in the spaces of lifestyle, fashion, fitness and obviously music that Indigo has identified as the four pillars on which its entire digital and terrestrial experience will henceforth ride.

Coupled with the revamped site are the shows on the network that reflect the same ethos. India's first fitness radio show - ‘The Fitness Hour’-  went live on Indigo in July (Indigo aims to make Bengaluru shed sedentary tag with fitness show), and another late night show -Pillow Talk - that focuses on love and relationships in a  story telling format, has just got off the ground.

(Indigo FM reboots with non music led programming)

Murthy admits that it is phase III that has probably spurred the experimentation in genres and formats, but points out that it is a game of survival not just for Indigo but for the entire radio sector. "As a media broadcaster, if we are not doing this, we would be irrelevant," he points out.

Indigo has not played the phase III game, but has invested a like amount in a bid to convert itself into a national player in a unique way. While the digital platform will make the network's content more accessible to the entire nation and beyond, a slew of content partnerships are also in the pipeline.

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The station has also chosen an offbeat destination – the Scandinavian Northern Lights, where a select few of Indigo listeners will land in January to be treated to a special performance by international artistes. For the age group that’s seeking experiences, and Murthy identifies this group as one that prefers a single platform that allows for engagement, experinecne and connection, Indigo is hitting the right notes. Fitness videos, propelled by credible names in the fitness industry are up on the site already. Indigo’s first digital offering, focused on EDM, too will be live soon.

Indigo’s proposition to go national while staying niche might just pay off in the new phase III regime where standing out in the crowd of content and clutter will be one of the defining factors for success. “We are in a
happy space being an English station,” he avers. “we have hit the sweet spot, and don't want to dilute our proposition by changing our format. Indigo is an aspirational, international radio station and research shows that we have aggregated more audiences than certain other stations in other metros that are monitored by RAM.”

Indigo itself does not trust RAM or its research methodology which it says works to the disadvantage of a  niche radio station. “Yes, we can't promise an audience of 30 lakh but our research shows we have around 15 lakh people and that is a substantial number listening to international music. And it is an undiluted audience, which means that it is not an audience that is consuming three or four different stations simultaneously,” he points out.

Indigo’s own brand and listenership diagnostics have ensured it a growth rate that has been outpacing  industry which itself has grown at a CAGR of 14 per cent.

In the last one year and specifically since the last six months that Murthy has helmed the network, several changes have been wrought. “In the last one year, we went back to the drawing board to realise where our consumer is, and what she wants. our core TG being 18 to 34 extending up to 44, is essentially chasing experiences. We are seeking experiences. No longer is one tuning in to terrestrial radio just to listen to music and getting on to the internet to search for music, and getting on to a social platform to engage with friends and family. We would ideally want all of this to converge on to a single platform."

All of Indigo's resources have hence been channelised towards building that plaform. ”While the digital platform will be its mainstay, the ‘small format destination’ is also key to Indigo’s plans. "In India, we are probably the first radio station to have its own destination, which is the Indigo Live music bar. That's the first investment of its kind that any radio station has made, in translating an on air experience into a ground experience. The music that we play, artistes we feature, in some form, gets showcased into an on ground experience at the music bar."

"We also decided to get into large format play, where we create music festivals, create expereinces - sensory experiences that people in India have not got so far easily," says Murthy. The first is the exercise of taking people to the Northern Lights in Norway, and getting an international artiste to perform for them there.

On the content partnership front, Murthy says the network is in various stages of conversation with different terrestrial radio players, and the effort will be to translate the Indigo brand content without diluting what the other player has built so far. Regulatory issues may take it longer for such partnerships to get off the ground, but till then, Indigo has its other ventures unfolding seamlessly. The Indigo and Blues festival, in its fourth edition this year, is the only one of its kind apart from the Mahindra Blues fest that takes place in Mumbai each year. Indigo xp, the netowrk’s first pan Indian foray, will be getting a major push in the coming days.

“We are going to be a national player either way. It’s just a question of which platform takes us to becoming a national player earlier,” he smiles.