Amchi Mumbai is guaranteed to witness some hectic print media activity next fiscal with the launch of several new English dailies.
Independent News from Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited (BCCL) is scheduled to debut in May, followed by Hindustan Times' much talked about maiden Mumbai edition in June. Plus, the ZEE-Dainik Bhaskar combine will be launching its newspaper too. There's also talk about a proposed Mumbai edition of The Telegraph by the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group, though no confirmation is available.
These papers come in addition to six existing English dailies in the city - The Times of India (TOI), which is the leader in Mumbai with a readership of 21.01 lakhs (IRS Round 2, 2003-2004), followed by Mid-Day (7.79 lakhs), The Indian Express (2.62 lakhs), Asian Age (91,000), Afternoon (45,000) and The Free Press Journal (figures not available).
Now with so many English papers already in the city, the question is why are rival media groups looking at Mumbai in the first place?
"Because," as a senior media analyst based in the city, says, "Mumbai offers potential for growth. There is room for a strong number two and three, and rival media groups are keen on capitalising on these positions."
Traditionally, Mumbai and its southern counterpart, Chennai have witnessed a monopoly of The Times of India and The Hindu respectively. In most other metro centres, there is a duopoly, as in Delhi, where HT and Times are perpetually at war, or in Bangalore and Hyderabad, where the Times of India battles Deccan Herald and Deccan Chronicle respectively.
In the absence of a strong number two or three, there's room for more papers - especially those, which can challenge TOI's might in Mumbai.
As Jaisurya Das, managing director & principal consultant, Xanadu Consulting Group, says, "To break TOI's stronghold in Mumbai has been playing on the minds of most media groups."
Kunal Jamuar, business director at media agency, Insight, believes it is more a question of geographical growth than anything else for rival media groups to venture into the city. "Pushing innovations or sponsorships in print is one avenue of growth for a newspaper. But the other bigger area is geographical growth," he says.
Overall ad spends in print have been growing at the same time, which explains the expansion plans of various publication groups into the city. After running neck-and-neck with TV for the last few years, print saw a growth of about 14.7 per cent in terms of ad spends in 2004, to just under Rs. 5,450 crore. Television, on the other hand, saw a 13 per cent growth, to about Rs. 4,800 crore (Source: TAM Adex).
Moreover, Mumbai accounts for 22-25 per cent of total print spends in the country, implying that it makes complete business sense to have a full-fledged edition in the city. Delhi is marginally higher at about 26 per cent in terms of total print spends, which explains why for a paper such as The Times of India, the two big revenue centres are Mumbai and Delhi.
Per square centimeter of space for a black & white and colour insertion in the Mumbai edition of The Times of India are as follows: Rs 1,200 (for a B&W ad) and Rs 1,700 (for a colour insertion). The Indian Express, on the other hand, stands at Rs 280 (B/W) and Rs 350 (colour) respectively, and Mid-Day rates are Rs 175 (B/W) and Rs 245 (colour) respectively. Sometimes, numbers tell a comprehensive story.
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