Last Day of Worldspace in India [Post Mortem]

Worldspace India is shutting down its service from today onwards (i.e. on December 31st) and while we wait for the new owner to revisit their India strategy, lets look at Worldspace story in India.

8 years, 35 Channels, 4.5 Lakh (paying) subscribers, but are they enough?

50% of Worldspace subscribers came via Airtel DTH partnership – so that makes the first few years (or rather first 6 years) a market creation effort and essentially an unsuccessful stint.

Pricey Positioning

Radio is a mass medium and Worldspace focused on premium user segment to start with. Nothing wrong with it (that your GTM strategy), but even after 2 years, they never cared to break the myth that it isn’t a premium product. Or rather, they never cared to go beyond the premium segment.

Worldspace Radio - Who killed the DJ?
Worldspace Radio - Who killed the DJ?

Off late, Indian consumers have started exploring newer consumption medium (products/services), but how many of them wanted to explore Worldspace? Were people talking about Worldspace in their school/workplace? Was there ever a community building exercise by Worldspace team? I don’t recall too many initiatives.

The notion of ‘bought into the receiver for lifetime’ was a big hindrance to adoption – and am sure there are multiple ways to break that notion.

Marketing Strategy (or the lack of it)

Worldspace India was creating a market for ‘niche content’ radio in India and you need hell lot of creativity to market your service, especially when you are the only one in that space.

Worldspace roped in A R Rahman as brand ambassador and did just a lip service to the partnership. Beyond Rahman partnership, there was nothing substantial about Worldspace marketing strategy. There was no attempt to acquire new customers or to enter new user segment.

Service too early for the Indian market?

Indian subscribers paying for radio content? Well, subscription based content doesn’t work so well with the Indian mass (free is the word). Even though Worldspace was ad-free, they probably left a lot of money on the table.

The basic hypothesis was value in the content – there surely was, but were they pricing it right?

Essentially, they created a filter (with premium pricing) and didn’t monetize the filter at all (I am sure a lot of Worldspace subscribers would have paid a little more for the value they were getting).

Even acquiring new customers would have been easier with entry pricing and a bit of messaging could have done the trick.

Roadshows would have helped – it’s all about exploring newer ways to reach out to customers, but the first step lies in understanding the real problem statement, i.e. a potential customer’s perception of the service.

What’s your opinion? How does it feel going back to ‘Bollywood crazy’ ‘free’ FM stations?

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