| 21 Jun 2024
Do private FM stations need sports commentary?

MUMBAI: The radio industry churns out multiple programmes every year. These shows touch various topics that are of interest to its listeners and advertisers. But, there is one important subject that has remained untouched – Sports Commentary.

Remember those days when people gathered in front of a radio set to listen to live sports commentary. The Private FM stations want to get those days back to the newer generation, with the same level of infotainment. spoke to the industry to understand the importance of having sports commentary on-air and its effect on radio revenue.

It’s clear that need for sports commentary is being felt stronger day-by-day as sports is growing on a large scale in India. If we simply look at cricket, it started with a test match, one day match, world cup, now growing with IPL, ICC championship trophy and more. But, radio which happens to be a primary medium of information in many parts of India is losing out on this side of infotainment.

Red FM COO Nisha Narayanan said, “I feel sports commentary is necessary and should be allowed as it is on a long due. There is a huge monopoly as far as radio commentary is concerned; only AIR can carry it. There are current affair news not allowed on radio but I feel sports commentary is something reasonable and should definitely be allowed on radio.

“According to a lot of policies, I feel we are still a music led station. I think we are more music oriented on-air with a couple of ads there. So the format is going to change with sports commentary coming in.”

On parallel thoughts were ENIL’s CEO Prashant Panday and RBNL's CEO Tarun Katial. “Yes, there is need to do radio commentary. MIB must allow cricket commentary, as it is must news and they should also allow current affairs without restrictions,” said Panday.

“Radio is a great way of doing sports and as we have been constantly in talks with the government to allow live commentary on radio. I think there is a directional move and the government has cleared out local sports and we need to start working towards them on large championship,” stated Katial.

Where the industry in majority is in favour of sports commentary, MY FM CEO Harrish Bhatia thinks a little different. He believes today social media has made things very easy and one does not need to sit on radio for sports commentary.

“To the best of my consumption of radio, giving score updates should be more than enough, you don’t need live commentary. Nowadays, there is so much happening across mediums; one will anyhow know what he wants to know. Live commentaries were good in the times when there were no other modes of communication. Today you have TV, Radio, Twitter and one can know about everything with updates there,” he said

“Maybe in the rural areas, where there are power supply issues live commentary works well, but in the metro cities one can see sports in offices or at their homes. I think the listeners should have options about what they really want instead of regulating. Not forcing anyone,” added Bhatia.

Well, it will be the governments' decision, so if sports commentary gives a kick on radio, revenue will turn up to be beneficial attracting more advertisers.

“I feel radio dynamic in terms of programming pattern will change with radio commentary. The medium will not be looked up as only a music oriented medium; there will be newer audience on radio. Lastly, by getting both newer formats and newer programs to radio, I definitely see a much larger ad pie coming in for sure. A lot of brands and clients will start looking up to radio as the ROI’s (return on investment) are higher, it is a very response driven medium,” said Narayanan.

Fever FM has always focused on giving listeners an experience richer than just a ball or score updates. Fever FM as a part of the Junior Daredevils initiative, sent 11 kids between 6 and 11 years to the Kotla stadium to meet the DD team just before the match is about to begin. As part of ‘Ek Din Ka VIP’ initiative, they treated the listeners as VVIPs and sent them in luxury cars to watch the match in premium seats in the stadium. In Mumbai, they converted people’s living rooms to a stadium with ‘Wankhede Ghar Pe’ initiative - giant screen, Fever RJs, DJ, cheerleaders and F and B making the IPL experience larger than life. In Kolkata, they engaged people through para cricket and rewarded people with match tickets and meet and greet with their IPL heroes.

“The unique initiatives that Fever has undertaken over the years around IPL are designed keeping the listeners and advertisers interests in mind. These unique properties and initiatives have been instrumental to Fever FM powering the IPL revolution amongst listeners. Listeners love us for these initiatives and advertisers find Fever’s initiatives and properties very attractive, and encourage us with sponsorship,” said Fever FM CEO Harshad Jain.

It’s clear that the industry eagerly wants to get hold of sports commentary permission which will benefit the listeners and open advertising opportunities for the radio clients.