With a rise in circulation numbers and decline in readership numbers, the newspaper industry needs to look at a new measurement system.
The topic of debate was 'Increased circulation; dwindling readership: Is it time to measure 'access'?'. The session was moderated by Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group; and the speakers for the panel included Basant Rathore, vice-president, strategy, brand and business development, Jagran Prakashan; Paritosh Joshi, independent media professional and board member of MRUC; and L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research.
Joshi stated that now news comes in two forms – structured and non-structured (such as Twitter). "This further proves that the consumption pattern for news has changed. Today, the consumer has many screens to consume news, unlike the old days when the world revolved around Doordarshan and had one TV set at home. It is now more about 'who saw which masthead?' So newspapers have to move beyond the number game."
Next, Krishnan talked about how, after digitisation, the number of channels has increased from 30-40 to anything in the range of 150-200 channels. While some brands are getting replicated, for example Economic Times and ET Now, and Bombay Mirror and Zoom, publishers now need to cut the duplication so that the transition becomes seamless. News will have to juggle between multiple platforms and publishers will have to continue curating.
Joshi then talked about the measurement game and if it can move beyond numbers to be based on the basis of consumer's affinity for a newspaper brand. "Rather than focusing on ranking, the new measurement system can concentrate on the areas of weakness and strengths, and this way can be an eye opener," he added.
Rathore emphasised how digital has blurred the boundaries across media. "Content production is a costly affair, so if it is not measured then companies will not be able to monetise it. While we do need to measure content and its effectiveness, we can measure it through other parameters. Newspapers should be ready to adapt to the new environment and move out of the rat race," said Rathore.