Anirban Roy Choudhury
Points of View

IRS Q3 2019: Experts share highlights and challenges

We spoke to DD Purkayastha of ABP, M V Shreyams Kumar of Mathrubhumi Group and Karan Darda of Lokmat.

On December 27, 2019, the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) released the Indian Readership Survey data for the third quarter of 2019. The 2019Q3 data is a rolling average of the last quarter of IRS 2017 (Q4) and three quarters of IRS 2019 (Q1+Q2+Q3). IRS 2019Q3 fieldwork covers August 2019 through November 2019.

The survey found that the Hindi dailies had managed to retain Total Readership of 17 per cent (TR, read in last one month) while English dailies grew their TR from three per cent in 2019Q2 to 3.2 per cent in 2019Q3. The survey found the regional dailies under a little pressure as the TR declined from 19 per cent in 2019Q2 to 18.6 per cent in 2019Q3. However, it should be taken into consideration that in view of sample shortfall in Andhra Pradesh, the IRS Technical Committee has decided to release IRS 2019Q3 data, excluding AP.

Hindi dailies managed to retain Average Issue Readership (AIR, read in last 24 hours) too at 6.7 per cent. For English dailies, the IRS found its AIR the same as in Q3, at 1.2 per cent, while for regional dailies it dropped slightly from 8.5 to 7.6 per cent.

What do these numbers mean for the industry? Are the dailies happy with the results, and what are the opportunities? We asked these questions to DD Purkayastha of ABP, M V Shreyams Kumar of Mathrubhumi Group and Karan Darda of Lokmat.Here is what they had to say. Edited excerpts:

D D Purkayastha
D D Purkayastha

D D Purkayastha, chief executive officer and managing director, ABP

The highlights of this IRS over the past two quarters are - Improvement in the SEC profile of the readership; English content consumption going up and Print media managing to hold its own despite a substantial increase in digital penetration. The numbers have been encouraging for us and reaffirm our leadership position, both in the regional and in the English print space on the back of Anandabazar Patrika and The Telegraph. The challenge going forward in the age of media fragmentation is to effectively reinvent our print offerings so that we continue to deliver relevance to our readers on the foundation of trust and authenticity.

M V Shreyams
M V Shreyams

M V Shreyams Kumar, joint managing director, Mathrubhumi Group

The IRS Q3 report findings have been consistent for the growth of print media, and reflect the faith that readers have put in the brand. Multimedia consumption is the order of the day with each medium holding on to their loyal consumers. Newspaper readership stood at 38 per cent in Q3 2019 as compared to 39 per cent in Q2 2019. Urban and rural readership of magazines has remained steady. In the last two quarters, the NCCS ( SEC) ABC proportion of readership is increasing. It's quite encouraging to see that print media continues to be stable and balanced in its growth trajectory, this is an affirmation of loyalty by our constituents in the brand. Now we are beholden to repay by continuously upgrading content.

 Karan Darda
Karan Darda

Karan Darda – executive director, Lokmat Media Group

Although there is a marginal dip in the overall AIR and TR for overall print in the IRS 2019Q3, there is a very positive story for Lokmat. Lokmat has seen more than five per cent increase in its total readership across the group. The group now has a total readership of over 2.56 crore readers and ranks amongst the top six read publications in India and is the only number one Marathi newspaper in India. In fact, in markets like Pune where we had established leadership since IRS 2017, we have seen growth in readership numbers. It's also heartening to note that total readership in Mumbai has seen even higher growth to the tune of close to 11 per cent, making us the number one.

We are happy with the outcome of IRS 2019Q3. In Maharashtra, Lokmat’s growth in readership numbers is a testimony to our stand of having a robust circulation supported by cutting edge editorial and focused market initiatives. I am satisfied with the growth in IRS 2019Q3 results for Maharashtra over IRS 2019Q1, Q2 and IRS 2017 results. Above all, we owe this position of unchallenged leadership to our readers. The IRS methodology has been fairly robust and the same has been accepted by the industry as a whole. The industry has a long term view on making the sample sizes bigger over the long term and that will further reduce the margin percentage on any errors. I think MRUC and the Tech-Com are committed to doing that over the long term and that should make the data and the ensuing reports even more robust.