Television reigns as the preferred medium among urban consumers of all segments, with numerous channels for news and entertainment. It is the best choice for reaching markets across the country, although the Internet is catching up as well. The average reported time spent during a day watching television in 2009-10 varied from 96 minutes in SEC A households to 75 minutes in SEC E households, while the Internet usage stood at an average 87 minutes in SEC A households and 10 minutes in SEC E households.
Newspapers are a distant third among all segments except SEC E. Households in this segment spent less than 20 minutes a day on newspapers. Although this is double the time spent on the Internet, it is still a reflection of low literacy levels in this segment. The radio, the prime source of news and entertainment just a couple of decades ago, has slipped to fourth in preference—again except in SEC E households, where it is second after television. In an urban setting, the dominance of the radio has declined considerably: while higher income households listen to the radio while driving to and from work, the lower segments have found better options with access to ad-free music of choice on the mobile phone.
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In general, the higher the socio-economic category, the more time spent on media. Whether it is for leisure or for work, media is accessed more by those with higher incomes and education. Looking at the region-wise trends, there is not much difference in time spent on newspapers across consumer segments. However, the west shows higher preference for the television and the north spends more time than other regions on the Internet. This could be a result of the proliferation of content in Hindi, even as font compatibility continues to be an issue for many other Indian languages. The highest use of the Internet is seen in Delhi, followed by Chandigarh and Maharashtra—where the metro population in Mumbai and Pune has taken to the medium in a big way. Apart from the metros, the use of the Internet is highest in towns such as Visakhapatnam, Vadodara and Faridabad.
Finer segmentation shows the highest use of the Internet is among households whose chief wage earners are highly educated, in their younger years, single or married without children. These are young, high-income households exposed to the latest trends and gadgets, who find it easiest to adapt to changing technology and also depend on the Internet for national and international news.
On the other hand, television viewing is highest among households whose chief wage earners are again young, school educated businessmen, living in a joint family without children. In this segment, the presence of senior citizens in relatively affluent families, compared with others in the low-education segments, makes for higher television viewing. Newspapers are read most by households whose chief wage earners are highly educated, in the older years, married with married children. Having developed the habit of reading newspapers in their younger days, they still turn to the papers every morning to keep abreast of news. This is also the segment with the highest time spent on the radio, often tuning in before the newspapers come early in the morning.
While some segments will continue with their habits, media preference is set for rapid change. With Internet access on cellphones now becoming cheaper, even lower income households stand to benefit, although adoption of newer technology would be predominantly among younger members of the households.
Indicus Analytics Research graphic by Paras Jain/Mint
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