Consultancy Update

Over the last few months, in the course of our consultancy work, it has been remarkable watching the changing pattern of interest in the market.    These are some of our observations.

Clients “wanting it all”

There has always been and there continues to be a steady stream of general enquiries about broadcasting, whether wanting to investigate RSLs, path-finding into social networking or developing a DAB strategy – or something completely different.  Increasingly, however, rather than “cherry picking” one or two things, companies want to do it all.

Investments have to yield a quick return.  This is not a time for dipping toes cautiously into new waters or enjoying lengthy test periods, it would seem.

Seeking transparency

It is not good enough in the current climate to accept a large bottom line figure without knowing how it was reached.  An interesting piece of work we did recently was for a large overseas client.  They had some experience of broadcasting on DAB but wanted to investigate taking on the transmission elements themselves rather than sub-contracting.

This would have been a large amount of work for them because there is little transparency in what equipment is required and the cost of acquiring and operating it and they need a space in where to save it, getting a personal storage unit or something similar.  In some instances, elements are “bundled” by sub-contractors and not easily unpicked to see what is involved.

However, having had experience of dozens of similar transmission networks, we were able to quickly present a detailed breakdown of the likely different elements involved.  From this we could evaluate which elements would be more cost effective to undertake “off the shelf” and which would be better sub-contracted.

More clients coming from new sectors

Over the last two or three years we have noticed a broadening in the sorts of businesses that are wishing to investigate broadcasting on radio.

Historically, a large number of start-ups have wanted to replicate “CHR” or “AC” formats, often with a lot of similar local content to existing services.

Broadly speaking, new entrants over the last two or three years have fallen into one of three other groups – public sector, private non profit-making (primarily charities and religious organisations) and communities of interest, e.g. niche music, foreign language or cultural.

Naturally they are each affected by the changes in the market like anyone else, but in different ways to the traditional “pop stations”, not least because they have very different revenue streams.

Public Sector

Public funding for new projects may be slow to appear as the approval processes are necessarily thorough, but once in place are very secure.  Through our partnership with GTN, we continue to assist the development of the Highways Agency’s Traffic Radio service, for example looking at other platforms for the dissemination of the service.

Private non-profit

Such groups are often funded through regular donations and covenants, an alternative revenue stream to that experienced by mainstream media in the UK.  But this doesn’t make them unsuitable entrants; quite the contrary.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation in their publication “UK Giving 2008, An overview of charitable giving in the UK in 2007/08”, by Sally Clegg and Liz Goodey (CAF), Patricia Walls and Karl Wilding (NCVO), and “Who gives to what cause?”, by Dr Sylke Schnepf and Professor John, Micklewright, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton highlight that in 2007/8:

  • 27.7 million people (54 % of adults) gave at least once a month, with women more likely to give than men (58% v 51%).
  • The total amount given by UK adults to charity in 2007/08 was £10.6 billion.
  • The mean average monthly amount given per donor was £32 (£29 in 2006/7).

The CAF says, “Despite emerging tensions in the UK economy at the time of fieldwork, evidence suggests that many individual donors increased their support for charities in 2007/08”.

So although this sector may yet be hit by tightening belts, as recipients of over £10bn these organisations should not be underestimated and platform managers would do well to listen to their aspirations.

Religious broadcasting has come on in leaps and bounds following the relaxing of broadcasting legislation.  The will is certainly there to get their messages to new audiences by using a wide range of digital platforms.  We have worked with a number of Christian broadcasters, including UCB, as well as Islamic and Sikh broadcasters.

Over recent years, charities (which of course also include religious charities) have had to become increasingly savvy to attract donations and are looking to get the maximum “bang for their buck”.  We have discussed strategies for achieving UK wide DAB coverage with a number of major UK charities, with the aim of building national coverage via a portfolio of local and regional multiplexes.

Communities of Interest

During 2008 and into 2009 we have advised a group of overseas businessmen who want to develop a foreign language radio service.  They identified a gap in the market, for both audience and revenue, which was not being tapped by existing mainstream media.  Like anyone else, they need to get on air quickly, and for this reason long expensive test periods dipping their toe into various ways of broadcasting was just not feasible.

We are assisting them to develop a launch plan encompassing different digital platforms, helping to secure funding and develop a marketing plan that would utilise their broadcast platforms to promote other platforms.  In addition, we have advised on developing and utilising social networking and listener marketing to build on their community of interest.

Folder Media is uniquely placed to aid existing and aspirant broadcasters.  If you think we might be able to help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Picture from Flickr.