The last four rounds of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) in 2009 and 2008 saw a continuous decline in the readership of all the top 10 magazines. The trend continues with the Q1, 2010 as well.
The last five rounds of IRS including Q1, 2010 have seen the total readership of Saras Salil, the No.1 amongst magazines across languages, decline from 97.77 lakh in R1, 2008 to 64.13 lakh in Q1, 2010. Thus, the magazine has lost 33.64 lakh readers in this period -- a loss of around 34 per cent. The Hindi fortnightly has lost as many as 2.2 lakh readers in the current round (Q1, 2010) over R2, 2009.
The Malayalam fortnightly, Vanitha is at No. 3. It has lost around 2.64 lakh readers in the current round, after almost maintaining status quo (it had lost 0.4 per cent readers) in the last round (R2, 2009). In fact, in R1, 2009, it had gained 2.62 lakh readers; while in R2, 2008, it had lost about 2.47 lakh readers. Currently, it has about 57.08 lakh readers - 18 per cent less than the 59.82 lakh readers in R1, 2008.
The fourth most read publication in the country is India Today English, with a total readership of 54.73 lakh readers. Since R1, 2008, the general interest magazine has lost 20 per cent of its readers, that is, around 14 lakh readers. The biggest loss was in R2, 2008, when it lost more than 7 lakh readers. However, since then, the English magazine has been trying to minimize its losses, and has lost about 2 lakh readers in each subsequent round.
RS Suriyanarayanan, media director, LMG, correlates the decline in readership of the magazine with the visible changes in consumption habits of readers at large. He says, "It's no secret that the reading habit is coming down, with consumers shifting to other immediate means of consuming news, including news channels and Internet amongst others." He predicts that the growth of magazines will come mainly from niche genres.
At No. 6 is India Today Hindi, which has recorded a total readership of 48.51 lakh - a loss of 18.1 lakh readers since IRS 2008 R1. In the current round itself, the Hindi general interest magazine has lost around 5.56 lakh readers. In fact, with negative growth of 27 per cent, its readership is declining at a faster rate than in the case of the English edition.
Hindi publication, Grih Shobha is at No. 7, with a total readership of 45.81 lakh. The publication has moved up a spot this year. However, between R1, 2008 and Q1, 2010, the Hindi magazine has lost about 30 lakh readers -- a loss of 40 per cent.
Women's interest magazine, Meri Saheli is at No. 8, with a readership of 44.9 lakh. Over the last five rounds, the magazine has lost as many as 15.06 lakh readers.
The only publication that has added more readers to its fold is Hindi magazine, Pratiyogita Darpan, which serves as a general knowledge guide for various competitive exams.
Pratyogita Darpan, at No. 9, has recorded a total readership of 44.48 lakh in IRS 2010 Q1, thus adding another 1.61 lakh readers over 2009, R2, when its total readership stood at 42.87 lakh. In fact since R1, 2008, the magazine has added around 2.24 lakh readers - a growth of 5 per cent.
AS Raghunath, media consultant, says, "Pratiyogita Darpan is tailor-made for competitive exams and should not be compared with the general news magazines. The Hindi magazine has a footprint across the Hindi hinterland, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, where a large section of readers prepare for competitive examinations; and the magazine fulfills their needs."
At No. 10, Ananda Vikatan, which has slipped two positions, has lost 2.78 lakh readers. In IRS 2010 Q1, it has registered a readership of 43.71 lakh, as against the total readership of 56.36 lakh readers in IRS 2008 R1.