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.
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.
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%.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.