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IRS 2010 Q4: New editions drive growth for Hindi press

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | March 17, 2011
Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar are the markets to have recorded maximum growth in the last two years.

The last two years have seen a series of launches in Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh (MP), and Chhattisgarh for the Hindi print. Patrika was launched in MP and Chhattisgarh, and it helped the market grow. Similarly, Dainik Bhaskar's launch in Jharkhand and Prabhat Khabar's two new editions seem to have made a difference as well.

Jharkhand

In Jharkhand, where the penetration of Hindi dailies is 31.42 per cent, the market has grown by 18.17 per cent in the last two years (since R1, 2009), which is the highest amongst all Hindi-speaking states. The market saw a lot of action last year, starting with Dainik Bhaskar's announcement to launch the edition. Prabhat Khabar went all colour in Ranchi, a few days prior to Dainik Bhaskar's launch on August 22, 2010.

The other Hindi dailies in the state, including Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Ranchi Express and Prabhat Khabar, cut down their cover prices from Rs 4 to Rs 2, speculating competition from Dainik Bhaskar.

The dailies tried everything to woo the readers, from free gift offers to combo deals (Dainik Jagran with i-Next, and Hindustan with Hindustan Times), reader schemes and tailor-made offers for the local advertisers.

The players claimed that the price reduction had helped them increase their circulation base by 50 per cent, which implies that there has been an increase in the readership base of the state.

Hindustan, the No. 1 Hindi daily in the state, has grown by 52 per cent -- from 38 lakh in R1, 2009, to 58 lakh in Q4, 2010.

Hindustan's strategy to lure the youth seems to have worked for the paper. It launched a supplement titled Jano English for the youth, in collaboration with the BBC in Ranchi.

The No. 2 daily in the state, Prabhat Khabar, has also recorded a 27 per cent growth since R1 2009, taking its total readership to 38 lakh.

During this time, i-Next, the bilingual tabloid from Jagran Prakashan was introduced to the market - in Ranchi and Jamshedpur. The tabloid today claims a total readership of 2.64 lakh.

Madhya Pradesh

Dainik Bhaskar, which tried to disrupt the Jharkhand market with its entry had to face competition in its home turf MP as well.

Once a polarised market due to Dainik Bhaskar, MP has seen a lot of change, post Patrika's launch.

Interestingly, the top four players in the market - Dainik Bhaskar, Nai Dunia, Patrika and Raj Express have registered growth. Since R1, 2009, Dainik Bhaskar has grown by 5.8 per cent (5.26 lakh), while Nai Dunia has grown by 28 per cent (7.74 lakh). Patrika, the newest player, has grown by 180 per cent, from 9.12 lakh to 25.54 lakh since R2 2009.

Most of the dailies in MP have, in the last two years, made visible changes in their existing products -- from layout, pagination, news mix, price slides, news schemes for reader retention, and offers to the advertisers -- they tried it all. Overall, the readers of any Hindi daily has grown by 11.35 per cent (13.91 lakh) in two years which is second highest, in the current quarter, for any Hindi-speaking state. Even then, the penetration for Hindi dailies in the state is still low in comparison to other Hindi-speaking states. This means there is further potential to grow.

Bihar

The readership of any Hindi daily in Bihar stands at 1.71 crore. Hindi dailies' penetration is still on the lower side, at 25.23 per cent.

Bihar is another market where Dainik Bhaskar has announced its plans to enter. Following the announcement, the Hindi dailies in the state that had a mix of colour and black-and-white pages started turning all colour.

The first one to lead the pack was Hindustan. Hindustan Media Ventures had set up a new printing facility in the capital city of Patna, to churn out the first all-colour edition of Bihar.

As a result, the readership of Hindi dailies has registered a growth of 8.21 per cent.

Hindustan is the biggest gainer in the state, having added 12.12 lakh total readers (9.3 per cent) since R1 2009.

Dainik Jagran has grown by 5 per cent in the state, and is the No. 2 daily out there with a total readership of 1 crore. Aj, the No. 3 player in the state has lost 2.16 lakh (12 per cent) readers.

Prabhat Khabar, which is at No. 4 in the state, in a bid to strengthen its position, also launched an edition from Muzzafarpur besides Patna, where it was already present. And, more recently, in February this year, it has launched an edition from Bhagalpur. This was the third edition of the daily from Bihar. Prabhat Khabar has grown marginally by 5.22 per cent (68,000 total readers).

Chhattisgarh

The penetration of Hindi print in one of the youngest states of the country, Chhattisgarh, is 30.28 per cent. At 7.53 per cent (3.68 lakh), the state has registered the fourth-highest growth rate across Hindi speaking states.

This market has also seen quite a few new launches in the last two years. Patrika entered Chhattisgarh with its Raipur edition in September 2010 and later, launched the Bhilai edition. A little before that, both Nai Dunia and Dainik Bhaskar had launched low-priced variants. Nai Dunia Abhiyan had a cover price of Re 1 on weekdays, and Rs 5 on Sundays, while Dainik Bhaskar's Jan Jagriti has a cover price of Re 1.

Dainik Bhaskar is the leading daily of the state, with a readership of 33.39 lakh. It has added a marginal 80,000 readers since R1, 2009. The No. 2 player Hari Bhoomi - with a TR of 27.31 lakh - has added 2.18 lakh readers. Nai Dunia is the star in the market, having doubled its readership in the last two years. It has grown from 5.9 lakh total readers, to 12.67 lakh total readers.

Others

Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) have also recorded a positive growth rate, though marginally, of 4.28 per cent, 2.24 per cent, 1.85 per cent, 0.69 per cent, 0.45 per cent, and 0.34 per cent, during this period.

In Rajasthan, Dainik Bhaskar spruced up its efforts last year and launched an edition from Nagour in September 2010, besides starting new printing facilities in Sirohi and Barmer. But, not much has happened in the other five states. Dainik Bhaskar, which is still at No. 2, has grown by 3.4 per cent (4.25 lakh total readers).

However, the No. 1 daily of the state, Rajasthan Patrika, with a total readership of 1.43 crore, has added 5.46 lakh readers since R1 2009. It has recorded a growth rate of 3.98 per cent during the period.

In J&K, Amar Ujala is the No. 1 Hindi daily, with TR of 2.20 lakh. The Hindi daily has recorded a growth rate of 24.29 per cent for the period, while Punjab Kesari, with TR of 81,000 registered a de-growth of 24.3 per cent.

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