Mumbai: Dainik Jagran, the most-read daily in the country, sounded a note of caution on expanding in a shaky market as it added fewer readers in the 2011 third quarter.
The group’s expansion plans will not stop, but it will be more cautious because of the slowing economy, said Shailesh Gupta, director, Dainik Jagran.
Readership of Dainik Jagran, published by Jagran Prakashan Ltd, rose by about 100,000 to 16.4 million, according to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) for 2011’s third quarter.
In the second quarter, the Hindi daily added about 483,000 readers, but in the first three months of this year, its readership had dropped by about 160,000.
Overall though, most newspapers registered a growth in readership in the latest quarter; those that saw a decline witnessed marginal drops.
The IRS is a quarterly survey by the Media Research Users Council in association with Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd.
The top order remained unchanged, led by Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan, Malayala Manorama and Amar Ujala.
The readership of Dainik Bhaskar grew from 14.1 million to 14.8 million, and that of Hindustan from 11.9 million to 12 million.
But Malayala Manorama and Amar Ujala saw a fall in the number of readers. Malayala Manorama went down from 9.96 million to 9.91 million readers. Amar Ujala’s readership dipped marginally from 8.89 million to 8.84 million.
The numbers are based on average issue readership (AIR) figures.
Sanjeev Kotnala, vice-president, Dainik Bhaskar Group, said the growth in readership for the Hindi daily did not meet the group’s expectation, but its effort to increase penetration in the cities was paying off. “We are consolidating leadership in all the key cities,” he said.
The top magazines by readership—Vanitha, Pratiyogita Darpan, Saras Salil, India Today and Malayala Manorama—all registered drops.
Readership of Vanitha dropped from 2.67 million in April-June to 2.59 million in the latest quarter; Pratiyogita Darpan from 2.15 million to about 2.03 million; Saras Salil from 2.04 million to 1.94 million; India Today from 1.72 million to 1.6 million; and Malayala Manorama from 1.39 million to 1.31 million.
Among business papers, The Economic Times continued to lead with a readership of 812,000—an increase from the 785,000 readers it had in the previous round. Mint, published by HT Media Ltd, continued to be No. 2 among business dailies. Its readership increased from 240,000 to 253,000.
Business Standard (English), at No. 3, increased the number of its readers to 161,000 from 153,000 in the previous round and the Hindu Business Line to 121,000 from 106,000. The Financial Express had 32,000 readers; its numbers were not available in the previous IRS round.
In Mumbai, among English newspapers, Hindustan Times, published by HT Media, emerged the fastest growing daily and the only one to have grown in 12 out of the previous 13 IRS rounds.
Readership of Hindustan Times in Mumbai grew 27% to 751,000 last year, consolidating its position as the No. 2 broadsheet daily there. The readership of market leader The Times of India declined 2% in the same period.
Hindustan Times, Mumbai, said it reaches at least 500,000 exclusive readers who are not reached by The Times of India.
In Delhi-National Capital Region, Hindustan Times continued to strengthen its position as the most-read newspaper for the fourth time in a row with 2.2 million daily readers. In Bihar, Hindustan has a 75% share of readers and in Jharkhand a 50% share. Mint has grown 41% over the last year.
“Mint, HT and Hindustan have all had good results, strengthening and consolidating their positions in their respective markets,” said Rajiv Verma, chief executive of HT Media. “As a group, we are going to continue our investments going forward in order to drive readership further in all these markets.”
The Hindu Group was happy with the latest readership numbers for its publications, said Suresh Srinivasan, vice-president, advertising.
Readership of The Hindu climbed from 2.08 million in the previous round to 2.17 million.
“There appears to have been a correction of some kind (in the research methodology) because until now, business papers were not reflecting the growth in audiences. While the spurt in readership is good news, there is still some way to go. The growth does not still capture adequately the circulation and expansion on the ground,” Srinivasan said.
L.S. Krishnan, business head of Sakaal Media Group (Publications), said readership of the newspaper marginally dropped from 4.4 million to 4.23 million, partly as it lost readers in the Pune city market, which has seen a spurt of activity from new entrants and existing publishers. “We registered a slight decline in Pune city, but the gap between us and our nearest competitor is huge,” he said.
Officials of Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, which publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times, were unavailable for comment.
Abhilasha Ojha in New Delhi contributed to this story.