Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:50

Tarun Katial, Chief Executive Officer, BIG FM, tells Impact that his focus is to find solutions that work equally well for the Radio network, advertisers as well as consumers, and explains why Digital story-telling is the way ahead to engage the consumer


A mixed year with a rocky six months post demonetization is how Tarun Katial, Chief Executive Officer, BIG FM, describes the performance of BIG FM over the last year, before firmly stating “but there were some really good high points”. The high points for the FM Radio network, which turned 11 in September, included the launch of 14 new stations, refreshing the brand with retro-positioning in key markets across India and launching a new positioning of more music, ‘Hit Gaane Honge Zyada, Yeh Hai Big FM Ka Vaada’.

Talking about growth, Katial says the network saw “a flattish to marginal growth” last year and pegged the rate of growth to be around 5-10%. He comments, “Our growth honestly comes from our network strength. We are uniquely positioned with our content. Our ability to create properties and customized solutions for clients and service leadership is one of our key values and our big strength.”

BIG FM launched 14 new stations in the first half of 2017 – for licenses issued under Part 1 of Phase III auctions - with the focus being on strengthening its position in the States of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It launched five new stations in Maharashtra (Pune, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad), five in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Lucknow, Varanasi, Patna, Gorakhpur and Muzzafarpur). In addition, it launched four new stations in key cities of Agartala, Itanagar, Aizawl, Shillong in the North-east.


Backed by the insight that consumers want more music, BIG FM refreshed its positioning to more music, ‘Hit Gaane Honge Zyada, Yeh Hai Big FM Ka Vaada’ on August 15, 2017. As part of this, BIG FM has cut down on the RJ talk time, making conversation on-air crisper. Says Katial, “We are making structural changes in the way we play out our content, across day-parts. All interviews are in the rapid-fire format so that we are to deliver more everlasting hits and more music. All our special programming is only around music.” Katial claims that the recent changes have helped increase the time spent and hopes that the changes will lead to at least 20%-30% of time spent going up on the network .


Elaborating on the company’s philosophy of ‘shared purpose’ while working with brands, Katial explains, “We have our brand goals, the advertiser’s needs and also the consumer insight. We have built our team to look for the sweet spot and find solutions to ensure that what we deliver to our advertisers, works for them, works for us and for the consumer.” With the emphasis being on content marketing, the mandate is to integrate the brand’s message into the content and amplify it in a format that the listener finds non-intrusive. In addition, the mandate given to the ‘big’ solutions team is to work closely with the content team. “If you don’t get your consumer insight in sync with your advertiser needs, then the consumers tend to look at it as advertising and ignore it. Our approach to advertising solutions is to keep the consumer first and also keep the brand and the advertiser’s needs all in sync with the channel,” Katial adds.

Another strategic move is the move to Digital story-telling. “We are moving more and more towards Digital story-telling, because we believe that’s really the way to get consumers around. Story-telling is a great way for brands to get to consumers. ‘Story-telling meets Radio meets Digital’ is really our mantra for success,” Katial affirms.

As for revenues, Katial says that in an ideal situation, he expects the solution-driven innovation to deliver 20% of the revenues going ahead. While the metro stations have grown “better” than the nonmetros, the network has seen growth in Punjab, in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and in the Eastern markets. A concerted effort has been made to build the retail base as this sector has become organized with local players expanding base within a State. Katial labels content marketing as the network’s forte and adds, “My outlook for the coming year is that Digital Radio, together with content marketing, could really build the game for us.”


With a wide presence across the country with 61 stations (59 + 2 strategic tie-ups) for BIG FM, the focus looking ahead is on consolidation. However, the network will be “open to opportunities as they come along”, says Katial, adding, “We have always been a network of width. From 45, we now have 61 stations, and we would like to cover the country’s length and breadth before we start to go deep. We have used the 15% ownership cap to go wide, that’s been our strategy.”



Vodafone - One Nation, One Song, One Network

On Independence Day, BIG FM along with Vodafone launched a campaign ‘One Nation, One Song, One Network’ wherein RJs across its 45 stations sang ‘Vande Mataram’ at the same time through Vodafone SuperNet. A video capturing the entire experience was released by Vodafone and 92.7 BIG FM on social media. It garnered huge response with over 128K+ views.

Sonata Act- Manzil pe Nazar

An initiative taken by Sonata in association with 92.7 BIG FM as a part of its new product launch ‘Sonata ACT’ aimed to send out a strong message for women to follow their dreams and not get discouraged by elements that hamper their journey to progress. To amplify the ‘Sonata Act to chase life’, the radio station did a studio shift (8 pm to 8 am) with an all-women team of RJs promoting women’s empowerment.

The IPs

Over the years, BIG FM has built these IP properties:

BIG Golden Voice: An on-air singing talent hunt

BIG Entertainment Awards: An awards show that honours artistes on the basis of audience votes for their favourite entertainers across 37 different categories spanning Films, TV & Sports.

BIG Green Ganesha: Encouraging citizens to adopt eco-friendly practices, promoting the use of papier-mache technique in making Ganesh idols. Starting from Mumbai city in 2008, the initiative has now spread to over 20 major cities.

BIG Green Durga: Encouraging the people of Kolkata to embrace ecofriendly practices during Durga Puja since 2010. RJs accompanied by traditional dhakis (drummers) invited devotees to donate newspapers, that were later used to make eco-friendly Durga idols.


In November 2016, Reliance Capital divested 100% stake in its television business under Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL) – comprising TV channels BIG Ganga and BIG Magic - to Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL), while Zee Media Corporation (ZMCL) picked up 49% stake in the Radio arm, i.e., BIG FM. As per regulatory norms, at least 51% shareholding needs to be held by the licence holder for a minimum period of three years from the date the Radio channels became operational. According to the Government’s lock-in norms, the acquisition of 59 FM radio licences will be done in two stages and ZMCL will have the right to buy the remaining 51% stake after the lock-in period expires, in March 2018 in the first stage.

As for RBNL, it is currently leveraging both content marketing and ad sales opportunities. Commenting on the television business, Katial says that while new content is being added to its comedy channel, BIG Magic, BIG Ganga - the Bhojpuri entertainment channel - continues to be the leader in its space.



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