Traffic jams make good economics

We all hate traffic jams, but some love it!

If one thing is common across all cities of the world, it is traffic jams. None have been able to escape its clutches—either in developed nation or developing nation. Traffic jams characterize a city. A day may not be far off when we start measuring distance by a unit of time rather a unit of distance! 

But does everyone hate traffic jams? The obvious answer would be YES, right? Who would like be on the road, in sultry heat sweating as if you have drenched in rain, or getting drenched in rain and wishing you were sitting in your living room having a cup of hot coffee, or sitting in an AC car and feeling like a bird in a cage? At an individual level, we all hate traffic jams, but what does traffic jams do that appeals to a section of professionals?

Companies need to make profit; to make profit, companies need to sell its goods and/or services; to sell its goods and/or services, companies need to advertise for whatever goods and/or services they provide because these are essentially non-essential and so needs to be sold; to be successful, advertisers need people’s attention—it does not matter how the attention is captured. Traffic jams provide a perfect opportunity.

Prime time is a concept that production houses coined to earn that extra buck. Prime time is, typically, defined as that part of the day when the number of listeners or viewers is the highest. And because during prime time the listenership and/or viewership is potentially higher than the rest of the day, it significantly guides decision of both production houses and advertisers. Although most of us associate prime time with television, but it is just as applicable to radio too.

Prior to the era of television, radio was the prime source of entertainment. With the advent of television, Walkman, and MP3 players, radio become history. What was once a pride possession in every home, become a collector’s item!

However, traffic jams changed it all.

Traffic jams have provided a fertile ground for radio to become popular all over again. Who would not want to be entertained when one is caught in a traffic jam? What had gone out of use and public memory, has come back with a bang, becoming just as popular as it was in the past. A Phoenix has risen out of its own ashes!!! The growth of cities and ensuing traffic jams has given radio another lease of life.

The rebirth and existence of radio today is directly related to the occurrence of the phenomena called traffic jams. And so, the prime time (when the listenership is highest) for a radio is during traffic jams, which occur regularly during peak hours. Production house and advertisers love this; Why? Because you have a captive audience, who have no other choice but listen to you!!! Although, some of us do try other activities such as reading and responding to messages, or playing a video game or something similar to that effect to keep ourselves engaged as we wait for the traffic to move, most of us just switch on the radio and listen to it.

Enterprising people have identified this man-created predicament to set up radio production houses and smart people, who are advertisers obviously, have tapped into this undisturbed captive audience.

Economic activity thrives when there is need in the market, and people identify this need and satisfy it. People caught in the traffic jams need a diversion to soothe their nerves; the need is obviously there. The production houses identified this need and created radio channels and programs. The advertising community acknowledged the presence of this captive audience and gladly extended their support to the production houses’ cause.

Traffic jams are an illustration of how a need arises, how people have translated the need into an opportunity, and how this will continue to thrive as long as there is demand (need to be entertained during a traffic jam) that is met by supply (of programs by production houses, which are sponsored by advertisers in exchange for a captive audience).

Traffic jams make perfect economic sense!



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