CaptureOnline media company Niti Digital has launched NiTi Web Radio, NWR Live, that will bring views and news along with music streaming.

When we checked, it offered NWR Live as a part of Niti Central’s Android app which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Kindle, Roku users can access NWR Live by downloading TuneIn Radio app. The company claims that it plans to launch iOS app soon. Alternatively, PC users can also access www.nwrlive.com and listen from the web player or download Screamer Radio and add streaming url http://stream.nwrlive.com/main

The studio has shows such as Cutting Chai, Divine, Jamming with Aakash, Tell it to Preksha, The Big Story, The Views Hour, Kitaab Ghar, and Namaskar India. It lists the schedule for the shows on the website for that particular day. Although we were not able to check all the shows offered, it appears that they have tried to bring the right mix into the programming. It features music, news, analysis of news, which fits in right with its news site Niti Central.

When we checked, the radio show Jamming with Aakash was live. NWR Live shows appear to be like any other radio shows with Radio Jockeys hosting the shows. When we heard the show for more than 20 minutes, we didn’t come across any ads. It appears that Niti Digital has not started monetizting the platform yet, which isn’t surprising since advertising hasn’t quite caught on yet.

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FM radio’s have been struggling to stay relevant in this age. Vishad Sharma, at a post on NH7, talked about whether the Internet killed the radio and whether digital radio stations could provide a viable alternate to FM radio. The short answer: he doesn’t think so. Internet based radio stations in this age do not make sense when one could just log into YouTube or use music streaming sites to listen to music. One thing that Radio does very well is discovery of content, however, these music streaming sites are coming up with solutions to solve the discovery issue as well.

Music streaming sites like Dhingana, Gaana, already offer a mix of radio stations. In March 2013, online music streaming site Dhingana had introduced a new curated radio stations functionality on its portal. At that time we had noted that radio offerings will essentially turn the service to a regular radio service and could possibly open up revenue opportunities like voice ads, and sponsored content among others, however, it could also alienate Dhingana users who had opted for this service rather than a traditional radio service.

Last month, Radiowalla Network Pvt Ltd that runs Internet based radio service Radiowalla, launched Radio as a Service (RaaS). The company claims that this service will be offered to private FM stations and network groups with their propriety programmes with music and non-music content.

Where NWR differs from FM and Mobile Radio (Nikhil adds)

The differences between FM Radio, Mobile Radio and Online Radio are in terms of the reach (within India), quality of connectivity and  cost of access. FM Radio is the cheapest but requires radio receivers – it works with mobile phone, most cars have audio systems and receivers. However, it there are restrictions, in terms of licenses being given only to operate in cities, and hence the cost of licenses is a concern. Mobile Radio requires telecom connectivity, each minute costs the user money, and while it isn’t limited by geographical boundaries, connectivity can be an issue. Online radio has no such restrictions, but is limited to availability of data connectivity, and data subscribers. It’s a small market, but it is growing.

However, the most important distinction is in terms of content: NWR can do news while regular FM channels cannot. Niti Digital Central is a news site, and with shows on news and analysis, it can provide an alternative to All India Radio news, in conjunction with its website. In a similar manner Mobile Radio avoids doing news. Telecom operators typically do voice blogs (although we’re not sure if anyone listens to them), and although it in not very clear how it is governed by policy, Mobile Radio acts as if it is governed by the same constraints as FM Radio.

We do forsee a risk where the government can try and restrict online radio, and make it conform to the same policies as other forms of radio. This would be a regressive approach – we don’t agree with licensing for separate cities anyway, nor do we agree with the notion that news should only be the mandate of All India Radio. These are gates that governments set up to act as gatekeepers, and collect toll, without keeping consumer interest in mind. The Internet is meant to overcome these boundaries. Now if only someone could figure out monetization of online radio.

Related:
– Can Radio Bring Its SexyBack? A Report from India Radio Forum 2013 – NH7