Early this year that the Indian lifestyle radio station Lotus FM had their listenership figures released and it wasn’t a pretty picture.
The recent Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) results have been released and Lotus FM’s performance has reached a worrying status.
The once powerful brand of Lotus FM that speaks to the Indian diaspora of SA fell by 130,000 from 390,000 to 260,000 in the first four months of the local music policy implementation. Then, in April the station had reportedly lost more than 40% of listenership compared to other stations.
Now the station has dived further to despair having shed close to a third of its audience to just about 170,000.
Having worked through this process, comparing this latest period (April – Sept 2017) with Oct 2016 – March 2017, they reported that of the 35 commercial and PBS stations tested, 57% did not show any significant change, 29% exhibited a downward trend and 14% displayed significant upward movement.
Lotus FM should have had the advantage even beyond the local music policy to maintain their numbers but they failed to hold on their listenership.
Lotus FM is the biggest loser in percentage terms. There has been no shortage of press coverage detailing the station’s many travails: Motsoeneng’s local content policy certainly dealt the station a body blow, there have been high profile departures, stories of management and staff warfare, and lurid tales corruption and sexual favours traded for positions.
A series of marketing ploys were introduced at the station in order to refresh the brand and to encourage listeners back to Lotus FM. However the figures speak volumes of the quality of their attempts to regain listeners, it has been wasted energy and marketing spend.
This latest RAM report certainly shows us that radio audiences are dynamic, and suggests that there is a lot of hard work ahead for broadcasters if they wish to maintain healthy audiences.
Where have the listeners gone?
There has been an impressive rise in loyalties to community radio stations within the South African Indian market of listeners. A snap survey carried out by IndianSpice has indicated that the lost listenership of Lotus FM have migrated to East Coast Radio, Hindvani, Eastwave, Radio Islam & in the internet streaming space Skye Radio trails ahead of Megazone Bollywood in terms of listener retention.
The community radio and internet streaming station have managed to maintain their footprint with their growing listenership while working with a fraction of the marketing spend that Lotus FM has at their disposal.
In order for Lotus FM to have survived the battering they are experiencing there should have been healthy re-development of the station where due considerations should have been given to community involvement and downward accountability. Something that Lotus FM is incapable of allowing with their current culture and management team.
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