Radio in Russia: big country, big competition

The Russian radio market is changing. There's growing competition and increasing audience fragmentation. We look at who's winning, who's losing and who's listening.

With 800 stations jostling for audiences, the radio market in Russia is one of the most competitive in the world. Moscow alone has more than 50 traditional stations. The other big cities all boast between 15 and 40 - and the number keeps growing. The emergence of these diverse stations is driving competition for listeners' time and fragmenting the audience. Five years ago, the top10 radio stations in Moscow had a 60% share of the market. That's now down to 45%.

However, Russian people aren't spending more time tuning into the radio. Quite the opposite. Recently, there's been a decrease in listening numbers and duration. This is primarily due to a reduction of listening at home, though listening in the car is on the up.

Something for everyone

Radio attracts listeners of all ages, social statuses and lifestyles. The structure of the radio audience in Russia is almost identical to the structure of the country's general population. There is something on the airwaves for everyone. On average, 64% of the Russian population listen to the radio for at least five minutes per day. Around 90% tune in for at least five minutes a week. The average Russian radio listener switches between three stations a day and seven stations a week.

Radio groups tighten their grip

The majority of the radio stations in Russia are part of big holdings reinforcing these group's dominant market positions. Currently, the country's five largest media holdings - Gazprom Media, Russkaya Media Grouppa, VGTRK, VK Profmedia, EMG - own 25 radio stations. In Moscow, their share of the market tops 60%. The market share of all radio stations belonging to groups now stands at 80%.

News-talk: the genre that grows on you

Musical and entertainment radio stations generally attract a lot more listeners than news-talk stations. Their total share recently hit 70%. Don't write the news-talk station off yet though - their audience has increased recently.

Interest in news-talk radio is directly linked to the age of the listener. For example, among the Muscovites aged 12 to 20, only 11% regularly enjoy news-talk radio. For ages 20 to 40 it's 14%, 40-60 year olds - 30% and among listeners older than 60 it's 70%.

Reaching a national audience

Broadcasting on a national level is growing fast. More than 20 stations have now built extensive networks throughout Russia. On average, more than 9.5 million Russians are tuning into these national stations every day. Favourites include: Evropa Plus, Russkoye Radio and Avtoradio. They often top the ratings in separate regions of Russia. Indeed, a local station leading the way in a region is a comparatively rare phenomenon.

Listen while you surf

The Internet in Russia has become the major communications channel for the younger generation. Now it's rapidly gaining popularity among the middle-aged and elderly demographics. At present, 18% of radio listeners in Russia listen online. In large cities these rates are even higher. Internet listening expands the geography of radio broadcasting and improves sound quality. Communication between the audience and the stations has also altered. Listeners now take a more active role, interacting with their favourite stations.

The power of the jingle

According to an estimate by the Association of Russian Communication Agencies, radio accounts for around 4% of all advertising budgets in Russia. The most popular categories for radio advertising are trade organizations, entertainment, pharmaceuticals, transportation, real estate, financial services, clothing and footwear.

The future?

Increased competition can only be a good thing for the consumer delivering more choice and better quality broadcasts. Access to stations and interactivity offered by the internet, the future of radio looks bright.

Julia Nikolaeva is Head of the Radio research department, TNS Russia.  Julia is based in Moscow. TNS Russia is part of the Kantar Media Network.
Data Sources
Radio Audience: TNS Radio Index - Russia. January - June 2011; TNS Radio Index - Moscow. April - June 2011.
Radio advertising monitoring: TNS. January - June 2011.
Advertising on the radio: Association of Russian Communication Agencies. January - June 2011.

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