IRS Special: South Indian publications' brush with performance pressure

By Alokananda Chakraborty , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 22, 2009
The language publications down South haven't fared all that well. As a language genre, it is the Malayalam publications that appear slightly better off than the rest

The IRS 2009 Round 2 data reveals a largely declining language readership across south India when compared with R1. In the newspaper segment, Vijay Karnataka (Kannada), Malayala Manorama (Malayalam), Daily Thanthi (Tamil) and Eenadu (Telugu) continue to retain their top positions. Among magazines, Sudha (Kannada), Vanitha (Malayalam), Kumudam (Tamil) and Swati Sapari Vara Patrika (Telugu) have managed to retain the top positions in their respective categories.

In the Top 5 dailies in each language, Malayala Manorama and Eenadu have gained ground, while Vijay Karnataka and Daily Thanthi have slid 55 per cent and 15 per cent respectively between Round 1 and Round 2 of IRS 2009.

& #BANNER1 & #As a language genre, Malayalam publications appear slightly better off than the rest. Among the Top 5 dailies, except for Madhyamam (-17 per cent), the other four - Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Deshabhimani and Kerala Kaumudi - have posted growth in total readership between Round 1 and Round 2. Of the Top 5 magazines, Balarama, Mathrubhumi Arogya Masika and Grihalakshmi have slid, Malayala Manorama has gained ground, while Vanitha stays where it was in Round 1 2009.

Among Telugu publications, the surprise package is second-placed Sakshi. It has a total readership of 125 lakh and AIR of 45.5 lakh."Both in terms average issue readership and total readership, Telugu dailies have registered significant growth due largely to the successful launch of Sakshi," points out Atrayee Chakraborty, planning sciences director, Lintas Media Group.

All Telugu dailies posted a decline in IRS 2009 R2: Market leader Eenadu lost 3.02 lakh readers, Andhra Jyothi 2.54 lakh,

Andhra Bhoomi lost 29,000 and Vaartha, 5.05 lakh. Sakshi, the first Telugu daily with colour pages, gained readers by adding new readers and via migration of readers from existing publications. After Sakshi entered the fray, Telugu dailies added 32.08 lakh new readers. The flight from other dailies has been to the tune of 10 lakh. Sakshi is brought out from 19 centres in Andhra Pradesh covering 23 districts, besides four editions from New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. It currently leads in 11 districts.

Kannada publications also show a downward trend. The Top 5 dailies - Vijay Karnataka, Prajavani, Samyukta, Karnataka, Udayavani and Kannada Prabha - posted losses in TR vis--vis Round 1 of IRS. The Top 5 Kannada magazines also paint a sad picture. While Sudha, Grih Shobha, Taranga and Mangala posted losses between 14 per cent and 15 per cent, Roopatara saved the day with an 11 per cent rise in total readership between R1 and R2 of 2009.

Among the Tamil publications the Top 5 dailies and the Top 5 magazines all posted negative growth in Round 2 of IRS. This despite the fact that Tamil and Telugu publications follow Hindi, Marathi and English in terms of penetration.

Two of the south publications appear in the list of Top 10 publications overall. Tamil daily, Daily Thanthi, is at No. 6, in terms of total readership, despite losing over 3 lakh readers over the last two rounds. In R1, it had ceded around 1.2 lakh readers to competition, while in the current round, it lost another 2 lakh. Over the last four rounds of the IRS, its total readership dropped from 2.08 crore to 2.02 crore. The Tamil daily has also seen a dip in average issue readership between these rounds - with a total loss of 88,000 readers.

Another Tamil daily, Dinakaran, trails Daily Thanthi in the top 10 list, having posted a decline in total readership the third time in a row. While in the last round, it had lost around 1.9 lakh readers, the decline in readership is higher in the current round, at 2.6 lakh readers. Though ranked at No. 7 in total readership, it doesn't find a place among the top 10 in average issue readership, where it features at No.13 with 52.71 lakh.

Readership in the south has a lot of catching up to do.