The Times of India to launch Coimbatore edition on February 14

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 07, 2011
The English daily has introduced a yearly subscription of Rs 299 for the new edition.

The Times of India (TOI), as per the sources, is all set to launch its Coimbatore edition on February 14, with an estimated initial print run of 70,000 copies. This will be the group's second edition in Tamil Nadu (after Chennai). Bennett Coleman & Co (BCCL) will head towards Madurai next, and in all likelihood, will launch an edition from the city in March.

The English newspaper has launched a yearly subscription drive, wherein subscribers need to pay Rs 299 for the entire year, and will also get a free sports bag. Those opting for monthly subscription need to pay around Rs 70 every month.

The Coimbatore edition will cover areas in a range of 70 km around the city. The Coimbatore editions of other English dailies cater to Tirupur, Udumalpet, Pollachi and some parts of eastern Kerala.

Talking about TOI's new destination, Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, BCCL, says, "It is an amazing and progressive city. A lot of development is happening across sectors, be it education, industries, hotels or others. Coimbatore has a happy blend of modernity and tradition."

In Coimbatore, TOI will face competition from The Hindu, The New Indian Express and the recently launched Deccan Chronicle. While The Hindu has a total readership of 2 lakh (as per IRS Q3 2010) in the city, The New Indian Express has 25,000 readers in the same period.

The newspaper market in Coimbatore is pegged at around Rs 80 crore. Tirupur, which is covered by Coimbatore editions, is a big export market. According to R S Suriyanarayanan, business director, LMG, "Coimbatore is an important strategic destination for any marketer. Hence, it is important for the print players to be there."

Vernacular print publications predominate in Coimbatore, which is a well-priced market. Regional dailies, on an average, have a cover price of Rs 3 during the week, and a higher weekend price of Rs 4-4.50. As far as English dailies are concerned, The Hindu also has a similar pricing strategy. The Hindu, being an old newspaper in the area, also has the advantage of a consolidated base.

Experts point out that in the long run, English dailies will make a dent in the vernacular print market, as the English-speaking population increases in the city and nearby areas.

Says Suriyanarayanan, "TOI has some very attractive subscription offers that will surely contribute to around 50-60 per cent of their print run, making its position stronger from the day it gets launched." According to him, the ad rates commanded by TOI should be in the range of that of The Hindu -- Rs 175-200 per sq cm.

However, a few industry experts are wary of the new entrant's success in the city. Says a media expert, "They (TOI) have not been able to make inroads into Chennai, yet. And, I think, it'll be more or less the same story here. The Hindu has a staunch following. It will take TOI a while to penetrate through that loyal following in the South."

The Chennai edition of TOI, according to IRS Q3 2010, has a total readership of 3.13 lakh, whereas, in the same period, The Hindu commands a total readership of 9.04 lakh.

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