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POV: Will Newspapers Reach Profitability With Niche Papers?

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 14, 2010
If newspapers get into specialised content to cater to a specific set of readers and advertisers, can they find audience? And profits?

If newspapers get into specialised content to cater to a specific set of readers and advertisers, can they find audience? And profits? afaqs! speaks to industry experts.

Maheshwer Peri, president and publisher, Outlook Group

If there is a predefined readership for a niche edition, it should prove to be a profitable investment - but only over a Specific Time period.

However, such publications cannot survive solely on the basis of advertiser interest. It has to retain the main paper's editorial guidelines even in the niche paper so that the latter's content is not governed by advertisers.

Besides, I don't think such niche newspapers can survive independently and have to be distributed along with the main paper.

Bharat Kapadia, director, Lokmat Group

Today's readers are bombarded with news from across platforms, which is why a publication that provides news of their interest is always a preferred choice and it can be profitable as well.

However, such newspapers shouldn't make the mistake of running after a high circulation figure as long as they are reaching out to their core target group.

But when it comes to advertisers, the publications have to broaden their approach. For example, a newspaper publication might launch a paper on golf, which is of niche interest, but the newspaper could have advertisers from all categories be it luxury or financial.

Navin Khemka, senior VP, ZenithOptimedia

Yes, there is possibility for newspapers to reach profitability. But these niche Dailies haVE to be restricted only to the EIGHT metros where there is a demand for differentiated content.

For a choice of subjects, newspapers could be guided by specialist magazines.

Classic examples of such niche newspapers are The Crest and the Speaking Tree, introduced by The Times of India. The Crest is priced at Rs 10 and is targeted at the high end readers. It's a heavy paper with lots of information while the Speaking Tree has a cover price of Rs 2. Thus, both cases very well reflect that the consumer is now ready for content which caters to his or her area of interest and price is not a big factor.

Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media Infinity

It would depend on the subject. If a niche newspaper is targeted at the youth, it might not succeed as there is tough competition from the digital media category.

The publication has to be very careful in selecting the subject. If the subject falls under the first circle of influence for the reader, it will have greater chances of succeeding than the subjects under the second circle of influence. For example, auto and housing would be in the first circle for males while child development will be in the second circle. Niche areas, which fall in the second circle of influence, are less likely to succeed.

Similarly, a youth would anyway get his information on mobile and music from the net. Therefore, such subject areas might not work. But if it's a publication on education, which provides tips on cracking the board examination, it might work.