results of the Indian Readership Survey 2008 Round 2 (IRS 2008 R2) out, Dainik Jagran, which has been on the top now for several years, has lost 91,000 average issue readers (AIR) in comparison to IRS 2008 R1.
It's bad news also for six other publications in the Top 10 list, which have shown a decline in AIR since R1. Only three dailies - Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan and the Tamil Daily Thanthi - have shown an increase.
The magic of brand ambassador Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the campaign, 'Zidd Karo, Duniya Badlo', seem to be working wonders for Dainik Bhaskar. The Hindi daily, with an AIR of 1.3 crores, ranks No. 2 with an AIR gain of 6.18 lakhs since R1.
It is to be noted that though arch rivals in spirit, Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar compete directly and majorly with each other only in Punjab. In Punjab, Dainik Bhaskar has cornered both Punjab Kesari and Dainik Jagran. It is riding high in Rajasthan, too, with a total readership (TR) gain of 13.6 lakh, which includes not only AIR, but claimed readership as well.
At No. 3 is Hindustan, with an AIR of 92.13 lakhs, a growth of nearly 3 per cent since R1. AS Raghunath, an independent print consultant attributes this growth to Hindustan's aggressive campaigns earlier this year.
Amit Chopra, head, Hindi business, HT Media Ltd, agrees with him and says, "In the months of March and April earlier this year, we repackaged our entire portfolio and put out an aggressive communication, addressing the youth in the Hindi heartland. Our brand repositioning has paid dividends in Delhi, where Hindustan has seen 40 per cent growth in AIR. We are two times bigger in Bihar than our nearest competitor, Dainik Jagran."
However, according to Chopra, the growth from the launch of its new editions in Agra and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh; Chandigarh (Union territory); and Dehradun in Uttarakhand will start getting reflected only in future IRS rounds because they've not been reported as yet.
Next on the list is Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama with an AIR of 84.17 lakhs - an AIR loss of close to two lakhs.
Amar Ujala, which seemed to have seen a marginal growth in IRS 2008 R1 (80.91 lakhs) over IRS 2007 R2 (80.75 lakhs) has seen a marginal dip in the AIR. Currently its AIR is 80.73 lakhs. Industry observers say that the marginal dip or no growth could be because of the split in the company and the subsequent launch of DLA, a splinter group of Amar Ujala.
Next on the list, at No. 6, is the Tamil daily, Daily Thanthi (76.81 lakhs AIR in IRS 2008 R2), which has gained an AIR of 1.17 lakhs since R1. The newspaper seems to have made up for the loss it had suffered in the previous round of IRS when its readership had declined by 3.46 lakhs in comparison to R2 of 2007.
Dainik Bhaskar's gain overall and particularly in Rajasthan has been Rajasthan Patrika's loss. Rajasthan Patrika has slid down the AIR Top 10 list from No. 7 in IRS 2008 R1 to No. 10 in R2. It is the biggest loser on the top 10 list with an AIR loss of 6.61 lakhs (4 per cent), down from 73.32 lakhs in IRS 2008 R1. This is despite the fact that it has shown a growth of 3.42 lakh readers in the TR list, up from 1.36 crore readers to 1.4 crore readers now. Its two new editions in Madhya Pradesh - in Bhopal and Indore - have not been reported in IRS, 2008, R2, and this may affect both Dainik Bhaskar and Naidunia in Indore and the newly launched Nav Dunia in Bhopal.
At No. 7 in R2 is Telugu daily Eenadu, moving up one position with an AIR of 68.31 lakhs, though with a loss of 2.78 lakh AIR. Eenadu had gained an AIR of 1.90 lakhs in IRS 2008 R1 over IRS 2007 R2. The loss to Eenadu, according to Raghunath, could be due to challenger Sakshi, which was launched with 19 editions in Andhra Pradesh in March 2008 by Jagati Publications. Jagati Publications is headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, a businessman and the son of Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.
Raghunath says, "Sakshi has not been reported, but has certainly unsettled the TR and AIR of Eenadu and Vaartha, which have reported a loss of TR of three lakhs each. As Sakshi was launched half-way through the survey, the damage to Eenadu and Vaartha could be more and will get reflected only in the next round of the IRS."
The Times of India, which is the leader in the English dailies list, is No. 8 on the all-publications Top 10 AIR list. It has an AIR of 67.12 lakhs, a loss of 1.16 lakhs since R1. In the last one year, TOI has launched editions in Goa and Chennai, but those figures are not reflected separately in R2.
Surging one rank ahead, to ninth position, due to Rajasthan Patrika's great slide is Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP), with an AIR of 66.76 lakhs, a loss of 1.02 lakhs from IRS 2008 R1. In the last round, too, ABP had reported an AIR decline of 77,000. The loss this time seems to have got bigger.