Rachit Vats

<FONT COLOR="#FF0033"><B>IMC 2006:</B></FONT> Subscriptions for some, news-stands for others

Like any other media, the print media business is all about making money. But often, publishers are clueless as to what will help them rake in more moolah – a subscription driven model or news-stand sales

Do magazines make money out of subscriptions or news-stand sales? Can larger revenue be sourced by selling more at news-stands or if more people subscribed to a magazine? This was the issue debated hotly on the second day of the Indian Magazine Congress 2006 in a panel discussion on ‘Subscriptions vs Single Copy – What Works?’

Media bigwigs shared their experiences in the discussion and revealed what worked best for them. Moderated by Rahul Kansal, director, 'The Times of India', the panel featured Regina NG, senior vice-president, consumer marketing, 'Time'; Vivek Gaur, executive director sales and member management committee, 'India Today'; Ashish Chadda, head, sales and marketing, 'Reader's Digest'; and Himanshu Pandey, head - Business Development, sales and promotion: Outlook.

Some of the panellists held the view that magazines survive only through news-stand sales, others believed that magazines make money when single-issue buyers turn into subscribers! Those in favour of news-stand sales believed that such sales are better-than-free advertising as the magazine sits on the news stand and covers costs plus a lot more for every issue sold.

Publishers were in the business to maximise profits, there was no quibbling over that. Whether the subscription model would be more lucrative or news-stand sales was more a question of efficient distribution. Of course, news-stand sales also mean that the magazines are marked at a higher cover price.

‘Reader’s Digest’ presented a fine example of how the subscription model has worked for it. Chadda said, “The subscription model has been underestimated, but it works for us and has been a hugely profitable business module for us. It is important to look at subscriptions as they are a profitable way to go for it. Subscriptions bring more profit as expenses are minimum. Moreover, subscriptions are not advertisement dependent.”

Regina of Time Inc. put forward a comparative perspective. She said, “Unlike India, the US market is subscription driven. In fact, 86 per cent of revenue comes from subscriptions and the rest from news-stand sales. However, there is no rule of thumb that exists and guarantees success though news stands offer advertisers and publishers great visibility and subscriptions guarantee only fixed revenue.”

Gaur of ‘India Today’ said, “A magazine is an impulse product. If you want a readership multiplier, then news-stand sales are the way to go. It is important for publishers to find the relevant content and reach out to the potential audience.”

Gaur added, “Publishers constantly need to re-look and work on their plans. At the end of the day, they have to build their own paradigms, look at what suits them – subscriptions or news-stand sales.”

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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