We asked Probal Ghosal of Amar Ujala and Kaacon Sethi of the Dainik Bhaskar group to share their observations and here is what they had to say...
Last month, the Media Research Union Council (MRUC) released the 2019-Q1 data of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS). While the survey found that penetration remained the same at 39 per cent compared to 2017's IRS data, the number of readers went up by 1.8 crores - 40.7 crores in 2017 to 42.5 in Q1 2019. Hindi language publications added one crore readers to take the total Hindi Dailies' readership to 18.6 crores up from 17.6 crores in 2017. The penetration remained the same at 17 per cent.
As per the FICCI-EY report, "A billion screens of opportunity" (2018), the Print industry saw 0.7 per cent growth to reach Rs 30,550 crores. Advertising revenues grew by 0.4 per cent in 2018 to reach Rs 21,700 crores and EY projects it to grow at 3.4 per cent CAGR to reach Rs 23,840 crores by 2021. The report states that the subscription revenue of the Print industry grew by 1.2 per cent to reach Rs 8,830 crores. EY attributes the growth in subscription revenue to "circulation drives and some cover price increases."
That's the industry scenario at this stage and with the projections in the backdrop, we reached out to the experts to understand what they make of the IRS, especially the Hindi readership numbers. Here is what they had to say:
Probal Ghosal, Director, Amar Ujala Limited
Overall, when we look at IRS 2019 Q1 data, we are happy with the fact that print media readers have increased. What's more encouraging is that Hindi print media alone has added approximately one crore readers, highest in the language space. These encouraging numbers tell us that as an industry, we are steering in the right direction. Also, it gives us an impetus to keep bringing forward a product resonating core journalistic values.
Amar Ujala has always been a predominant, high-recall brand for its rural reach, however, it has now emerged as a key player within the urban space of its footprint. In cities like Lucknow, Agra, Moradabad, and Dehradun where high advertising spends occur, it has the numero uno position, whereas in other key cities like Kanpur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur, we have seen a growth of 11 per cent, 11 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in total readership.
This growth in the urban spaces of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand can be attributed to the brand becoming a significant preference of SEC A and B readers that has grown by 10 per cent over the last IRS. Another important aspect is that Amar Ujala continues to be the preferred daily of the youth and student community indicating a strong affinity of new age readers towards the brand. All this has been possible as a result of significant focus on content innovations along with focused circulation strategies. On the other hand, this data has also thrown light on a few challenges and grey areas. We have taken a conscientious view of these findings and are working towards it.
Kaacon Sethi, Chief Corporate Marketing Officer
We are delighted that the IRS 2019 Q1 data has been released on time and high credibility standards have been maintained. The data from the ground has been scrutinised and strong action has been taken against any wrongdoing. I congratulate the MRUC for the great work.
Dainik Bhaskar's circulation drive has given us the results in the readership numbers and our strong progress is in the evidence. We have added over 63 lacs in Total Readership and over 15 lakhs in Average Issue Readership, which represents an 11 per cent growth, the highest among Indian language newspapers.
Our big growth - 18 per cent, has come from the state of Rajasthan. Since this is 2019 Q1 data, the impact of the Bihar circulation drive is not reflected. We will need three more rounds to see the full impact of our circulation drive in Bihar. In Gujarat, we have reduced the gap with the competitor.
The 1.8 crore additional readers for dailies and 90 lac for magazines since IRS 2017 is testimony to the fact that Print is growing not only in Hindi and Indian languages but in English as well. This is great news.
The results are very positive for Dainik Bhaskar. As we continue to work on the data and analyse the results, some key highlights are already in public domain data. The Dainik Bhaskar Group continues to retain its top position as the No 1 newspaper group TR - Urban, excluding financial dailies, main + variant.
While all Hindi newspapers added 93.27 lakh new readers, Dainik Bhaskar's growth story has shown the maximum growth (13.7 per cent) and added 63.55 lakh new readers (TR, main + Variant).
The IRS has shown that Dainik Bhaskar is Rajasthan's No 1 newspaper. We have grown by 14.4 per cent and added 9.24 lakh new readers (TR, Urban, main + Variant). Dainik Bhaskar has recorded a stupendous 18 per cent growth, adding 8.93 lac new readers.