Mumbai: Readership across the print media, comprising newspapers and magazines, grew in the three months to March from the preceding quarter, according to the latest Indian Readership Survey (IRS), but analysts said sustaining this trend will depend on costs.
The quarter reflects well on publications, but the next round will be critical as newsprint prices rise and dailies are forced to cut back circulation, affecting readership, said Janardan Pandey, associate vice-president at advertising agency Mudra Max.
IRS is the quarterly print research survey released jointly by the Media Research Users Council, a not-for-profit body, and Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd. The IRS data captures the average issue readership (AIR) of over 100 publications in India. AIR is measured by asking the survey respondents “what they read yesterday”.
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As usual, five Hindi-language newspapers dominated the top 10 most read publications list. While all of them, including market leader Dainik Jagran, have added readers, Hindustan, ranked at No. 3, added 100,000 new readers in the March quarter. Hindustan is published by Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd, a unit of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint and Hindustan Times.
Amit Chopra, chief executive of Hindustan Media Ventures, said the last few IRS rounds have shown major growth for the language papers. Hindustan has grown in the last three years although the paper’s presence in Uttar Pradesh has not been adequately reflected. Chopra said the company will continue to invest in the state. “Over the next three months, we have plans to launch in two new centres—Aligarh and Moradabad,” he said.
The Times of India (ToI), published by Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, continues to be the sole English daily in the top 10 most read newspapers. It topped the list of English language dailies, followed by Hindustan Times, (HT) with Kasturi and Sons Ltd’ Hindu at No. 3.
ToI has added readers nationally—rising from 7.44 million in October-December 2010 to to 7.47 million in January-March this year. Hindustan Times’ national readership has risen from 3.69 million to 3.73 million.
“Hindustan Times remains the fastest growing national English daily,” said Rajiv Verma, chief executive of HT Media. Although there is a marginal dip in readership in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), HT leads the market. “In Delhi NCR, HT continues to be a very strong No. 1 for the sixth time in a row, with a lead of more than 1.75 lakh in total readership (TR).”
HT also leads in AIR by 80,000 and in the SEC A segment by more than 125,000 readers, Verma said. In Mumbai, HT continues to be the fastest growing English daily, growing in 11 out of the last 12 IRS rounds. “In fact, HT has grown by 21% (to a 720,000 readership) since it entrenched itself as the No. 2 English broadsheet in Mumbai, four IRS rounds ago,” he said.
Among the top five magazines in the IRS survey, Vanitha, Pratiyogita Darpan, Saras Salil, India Today and Malayala Manorama, only the last registered a decline. Varghese Chandy, senior general manager, marketing operations at Malayala Manorama, said the drop was insignificant.
“The company’s English language weekly Week has improved its readership although its reader-per copy ratio should have reflected better in IRS,” Chandy said.
IRS quarterly figures show sudden spurts and drops in readership, said A.J. Christopher, national head (marketing), at Telugu paper Eenadu. “Still, a quarterly mechanism is better than a biannual one, since it allows publications to take corrective measures in the short term.” Eenadu has seen a marginal growth in readership.
Among business papers, figures for Financial Express were not released by Hansa Research. Economic Times continues to be the leader with 785,000 readers, while Mint maintains the second rank, with 18,000 new readers added to total 240,000. The readership of Business Standard (English) has gone up from 151,000 to 153,000.
On Mint’s growth, Verma said, “Mint continues to be the fastest growing business daily in India, registering an impressive growth of 8% on an all-India basis. It has seen a significant jump in readership in Mumbai. It also has the best readership profile of all business dailies, with 56% of readers coming from SEC A1.”
As appetite for business news grows, this segment will see new readers, said Pandey of Mudra Max. “The good news is that there are no new entrants and existing financial players will make most of this growth,” he said. “In this segment, each paper has a distinct identity.”
Graphic by Yogesh Kumar/Mint