City-centric magazines fulfilling local needs

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | September 09, 2005
In a day and age when the magazine genre seems to be struggling for survival, magazine publishers seem to have latched on to a new survival trick: launching city-centric magazines

Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi

are just three of the many examples. Whether one talks about 'Time Out' in Mumbai, or City Info's lifestyle magazine, '080', in Bangalore, or the Outlook group's 'City Limits' in Delhi, city-centric magazines seem to be sprouting up all over India. But one can't help wonder whether this is a short-lived fad or a trend that is here to stay.

agencyfaqs! spoke to a few close watchers of the industry to gauge the need for such city-centric magazines, their immediate competition, and what the future holds for them.

As Harish Shriyan, president, MediaCom, says, "There is definitely a market, although niche, for these city-centric magazines. The trend has already worked successfully in other countries, and it is catching up in India as well."

R Rajmohan, vice-president, Outlook Group, concurs, "City-centric magazines have been doing well all over the world. In the past, too, India has witnessed the launch of some city-centric magazines, but they were probably ahead of their time. Now, there is more scope for such magazines, as there is more action and more entertainment news than ever before."

Prasun Kumar, media group head, Madison Media, also feels this is a visible trend that is here to stay. He says, "City-centric magazines will help latch on to readers, as people no longer have the patience to go through an entire magazine that offers a variety of information."

He cites an example: "A resident of Bangalore will want to know more about what's happening in his own city, rather than what the chief minister of some other state has to say."

Kumar adds a word of caution though: "Currently, city-centric magazines are a novel concept, but tomorrow, after reaching a saturation point, there could be something else that will drive magazines."

But do such magazines face any real threat from newspaper supplements, which also offer localised content?

Smiti Ruia, publisher, 'Time Out', says, "The primary task for a newspaper is to provide current affairs and breaking news. For them, entertainment is just a supplement. For us, it is our bread and butter. So, naturally, we don't think they excel at what we do, and vice versa."

Shriyan of MediaCom is of a similar opinion. He says, "I don't think newspaper supplements are any competition for city-centric magazines, the primary reason being content. Newspapers carry day-to-day information about the entire nation, and small titbits on the cities. But the city-centric magazines definitely provide in-depth and detailed information on the city specifically."

Radha Thomas, vice-president, business development, City Info, defends her turf, "Newspaper supplements cannot be compared to city-centric magazines. We have launched the city-based lifestyle magazine, '080', in Bangalore for the primary reason that people want more local news."

She explains, "The shelf life of magazines is much more vis-a-vis newspapers. And they also offer a better platform for advertisers, who are looking towards narrow casting their target group."

Kumar of Madison Media offers a different opinion. He feels newspaper supplements do pose competition to city-centric magazines. He says, "Every medium competes with the other for audience time as well as advertising revenue. After all, the pie for both the consumers and the advertising revenue remains the same. Newspapers as well as magazines are operating in the same place. Content overlapping is bound to happen, which, in turn, increases the competition between the two."

But he adds quickly, "However, magazines will have to narrow cast their readers in this manner as localisation is the only way to go. I don't know about revenue, but city-centric magazines will, I feel, turn out to be profitable in terms of holding on to readership."

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