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Digital disruption? Media Prima Radio Networks loves it

  • Technology offers the station an opportunity to be on new platforms, to be ‘everywhere’
  • Already monetising videos via YouTube, Facebook, beefing up video content
Digital disruption? Media Prima Radio Networks loves it

DON’T ask Seelan Paul (pic above, centre), chief executive officer of Media Prima Radio Networks (MPRN), about the impact of technology, especially digital, on radio.
You may not be ready for his response: “Technological changes have been beautiful for us. I love it!”
And while acknowledging the changing social behaviour of listeners, he believes that digital has only been positive for MPRN.
“It has given radio an opportunity to be on new platforms and as a result, we are everywhere!” he says.
While in the pre-digital era, one could only listen to radio in the car, at home or in the office (furtively), the liberating power of digital has allowed MPRN to create a new vision where it will become a music, lifestyle and entertainment brand.
“Radio will just be one of the platforms we use to deliver on this new vision,” says Seelan.
The other platforms, the “everywhere” Seelan refers to, includes being on the Internet with both desktop access and via apps, and being on social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and Twitter, as well as YouTube.
And yes, you read that right. MPRN is also on YouTube as this radio station has become a video producer as well – to the tune of 30 unique videos per week. These are not staid recordings of the disc jockeys (DJs) on their shows, but unique content by their DJs on matters that are close to their hearts.
For instance, one DJ makes clips about gaming while another makes cooking videos from her kitchen.
“Our DJs are influencers in their own right and we encourage them to make videos of things that are close to their hearts. We think they benefit from this and we as a station benefit as well,” Seelan asserts.
That benefit has recently come in the form of recognition from YouTube for Hot FM, one of four stations under MPRN, for hitting the 100,000-subscriber mark.
Impressive as it is for a radio station (should it even be called that?) to have hit 100,000 subscribers for its video content, it has an even stronger social media footprint around its core radio products.
For instance, Hot FM, which caters to Gen Y and Z, has almost three million followers on Facebook, one million on Instagram, 1.5 million on Twitter, and sees an average of 815,000 unique users per month via its app and desktop version.
One FM, which caters to Chinese listeners, has 880,000 followers on Facebook, 80,000 on Instagram, almost 100,000 on Weibo and 611,000 average unique users per month. Fly FM has almost 250,000 average unique users per month.
By the way, the apps for Hot, One and Fly FM were created way back in October 2012.
The latest addition to its content family, the Gen X-focused Cool FM, launched on March 1 and already has over 50,000 Instagram followers and 400,000 unique users per month.
Social media numbers are one thing. What sets MPRN apart, Seelan believes, is the highly engaged nature of its ‘consumers.’
“They share and comment regularly,” he says.
Facebook creating its own video player has also helped MPRN deepen its engagement with its followers as it no longer has to rely on driving followers to YouTube.
“Because we have a very strong relationship with our consumers, we can now go to a client and offer digital branded content to them,” says Seelan.
Early results have been impressive. One Hari Raya video it created for Mydin Department Stores and ran on its Facebook page racked up more than 300,000 views and almost 500 shares.
MPRN is beefing up its production unit to deliver more great concepts to clients. For instance, through Facebook Live, it plans to offer live coverage as part of its solutions to clients.
“Technology is opening up more opportunities for us to make money,” says Seelan.
Through efforts like the video-based digital branded content and a new vision of being a music, lifestyle and entertainment brand, Seelan is hoping clients start seeing MPRN as no longer just a traditional medium with radio but where apps and its social community offer other opportunities for clients.
That may not be a tough sell, especially with MPRN having just crossed the RM1-million revenue mark in June for digital sales. The company also scored a first in Asia Pacific back in January 2013 when it offered differentiated ad inventory for its digital platforms versus traditional radio.
“What our targeted InterAds platform does is to serve consumers listening on radio in their cars and homes a different set of ads versus those on our digital platforms,” says Seelan.
Asked what he thinks radio may look like in three years, he pauses, and then says, “Radio content will be even more dynamic. We will be developing that content on video and we will be everywhere. For instance, if a new trend develops, we will always be there as well and ride that wave of change.”
Having said that, MPRN is also about to ride an old trend that it predicts is coming back: Podcasts.
“It’s actually coming back with the millennials and we are planning to introduce original content on podcast only,” he says, believing that the key here is to offer non-time-sensitive high quality content that consumers will seek out.
“We think podcasts can have the same impact on radio as Netflix did on TV,” says Seelan in a statement that personifies a content creator who thinks digital-first.
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