| 21 Feb 2024
Fever FM national marketing head Neeraj Chaturvedi - Fever FM hopes to break even as a company this quarter but not as individual stations

Fever FM's Delhi station has been raking revenues for HT Media's radio venture and the other metro counterparts are yet to add on to the revenues. Fever FM's national marketing head and Delhi station head Neeraj Chaturvedi mentions that the group will be concentrating more on Kolkata market, focus on monetizing the other stations and even attaining break even as a company this quarter. In a conversation with's Anita Iyer, Chaturvedi reveals the group's plan to venture into the web space, exploit the advertising and attain top listenership position as per RAM stats.

Fever introduced the non-music element of stand up comedy with Fever No.1 Show... in its Delhi and Mumbai markets. Is there a space for such formats on commercial FM radio?

It is not essentially non-music content as we assimilate it with music. Our experimenting with other formats doesn't mean we are moving away from music as we are primarily a music station and have the least inventory allocated to advertisers and non-music stuff. There is definitely space for innovative formats on radio as in Delhi, from being 10 percentage points behind Mirchi, we are just 3-4 percentage points today and it can be said that these shows are contributing to it 

Would you be introducing it in other markets as well?

We are shortly planning to introduce it in our Bangalore market but we don't think there is a space for such a format in Kolkata right now as it is a retro sounding market 

Apart from the stand up comedy, Fever also had initiated music related properties like Music Mahotsav and the recent �Fever Gaana Banana'. Do these help you to get more ears as it doesn't reflect on your RAM ratings?

It should have logically got us more ears but whether it would translate into RAM ratings is yet to be seen. It gets us virgin audiences to the station who at least sample the station. It is a challenge to get new ears to your station and new concepts help us to connect with that populace. Also as radio stations, we need to test the market and take the initiative of introducing variety for the listeners 

Radio industry like other sectors was hit by dip in advertising owing to the global slowdown. Have things improved for the industry now?

This quarter (July, August and September) is traditionally one of the lowest in terms of advertising for radio. Reduction in overall advertising spend has reduced the advertising pie coming to radio. This quarter has not shown any positive signs and times haven't really changed for the industry since the slowdown.

With the festive season lined up, how does Fever plan to exploit this quarter?

We have innovative properties lined up across our stations. Starting with Navratri, Mumbai station has tied up Falguni Pathak and Sankalp, one of the biggest Navratri venue creating opportunity for visibility and revenue stream. During Diwali, Mumbai and Delhi stations will be hosting quizzes which will attract more advertisers on board. There is an advertising spike during cricket related properties as advertisers see radio as a multiplier. With two cricket properties- Champions trophy and Champions league lined up, it will translate into revenues for the radio station.

Fever positioned itself differently as a niche English music stations in the beginning. Haven't you lost on that premiumness by turning massy and playing Bollywood music?

Fever hasn't completely given on English music as we still play it in our Delhi station. Delhi has a potential for English music with an audience of SEC AB occupying almost 66 per cent of the market. Mumbai is skewed towards Bollywood and there is no space for contemporary modern English music of the 2000's. That explains, why we have gone out of English music at some places 
English music was definitely a differentiator in the beginning with our mass premium positioning. But our station can still maintain mass premium by being vernacular, and English music doesn't necessarily add to the premiumness of the station.

Fever had tie ups with VH1 and DNA Networks for its English positioning. Did Fever lose on those tie-ups by changing your positioning across stations (Mumbai going the CHR way and Bangalore embracing regional Kanada music) ?

To some extent, we have lost on the tie ups, because it doesn't make sense for these events to choose us if we play Bollywood. Although we have lost on tie-ups in Mumbai, we still have partnerships with international artists at our Delhi station.

Fever chooses listenership over marketing and it doesn't affect us much in terms of revenues. Embracing regional music helped us positively, our numbers have become healthier in Bangalore. With 700000 listeners initially, we are almost reaching to triple our figures in terms of reach with 1.8 points and about 2. 1 million listeners under our belt. Higher listenership adds on to our revenues with advertisers willing to pay more for higher reach 

After creating noise at your Mumbai station, your RAM positioning has been slipping over the past few weeks. What went wrong with your Mumbai market?

Competition picked up a leaf from our book at our Mumbai station, some stations relaunched their slots like Radio Mirchi's Purani Jeans which took away our audiences. Competition is bleeding us to fight and competitors have made a lot of changes in their programming and are ready to spend a lot of money to pull us down.

But we are firming up our programming and will bounce back 

Three stations from HT Media's stable- Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore have been performing well but there is no buzz about your Kolkata station which doesn't even figure in top 5 according to RAM stats?

Kolkata will be receiving a lot more attention from Fever FM now. Kolkata is not the biggest revenue market, so it has not received much attention. We are changing the focus of our Kolkata station and would be making some changes shortly. There is an inhouse quantitative research and changes will be introduced post Navratri 

Will Fever be exploiting the web space by revamping its website?

We are in the process of creating a website and would launch it in eight weeks. Fever would be spending around 6 lakhs for creating a basic model in phase 1 and then spend more to add on more elements in phase 2 and phase 3. The website will be interactive and we are figuring out ways to use music legally.

Fever's Delhi station garnered revenues for the group, how do you plan to generate revenue from your Bombay and Bangalore stations?

Ratings at these stations have gone up so market shares will eventually follow. In Mumbai last month we occupied about 10-11 per cent volume share but today it is closely around 15 per cent, Delhi is around 15 per cent of share, Bangalore is around 14 per cent. So, roughly if we were at a market share of about 12-13 percent last year, this year the national average would be around 17 per cent 

Fever's Delhi station already achieved breakeven, what is lined up for other stations?

This quarter we are hoping as a company to break even but not as individual stations. Delhi makes a lot of money for the group, Mumbai will shortly start garnering revenues, Kolkata and Bangalore do not currently make money for the group and they will turn profitable over a period of time.

Could we say that for Fever, it is mainly the Mumbai and Delhi station which is sustaining the other stations?

We can say that in a way. But the scene remains the same for all radio players, some stations might not contribute much in terms of revenue. But owning many stations and selling them as a network makes business sense as stations are not sold on an individual basis. Money in the radio industry is concentrated in the four metros and if we have been finding it difficult to make money in Banglore and Kolkata, one can imagine the situation of radio players with 45 stations      

What are Fever's plans for Phase III when more licenses in Category C, D would be released?

Fever will be more careful about stations to opt for in Phase 3 as there is no point in opting for many stations without a revenue model.

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