Print readership falling in India?
The writing seems to be on the wall. Print readership is falling. Earlier this year I had written about how how the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) had picked up on this trend way back in their 2006 survey, and how worried the industry was. Unfortunately, the IRS Round 1 survey published this year in March has confirmed this downward trend. The Round 2 second survey published recently (IRS comes out with 2 readership surveys a year) shows that the declining figures are not a mere blip on the horizon.
True, this is in keeping with global trends (print readership declining/stagnating in developed world) but why should this be happening in India? I mean, our population is growing at a fast clip unlike in the developed countries and our literacy rates are continuously rising as well.
Are young Indians reading online newspapers? It was interesting to read that in the UK the online versions of leading national newspapers are thrice the rate of overall UK internet growth!
…the number of Britons visiting at least one of its Top 10 ranked national newspaper sites grew from 5.6 million in December 2006 to 7.4 million in August 2007 – a growth of roughly 30 per cent.
India will probably see similar trends in the future. And I am sure the trend is on already…and there is television news as well. All this will eat into print revenues. And clearly the young are driving this trend. The generation which grew up on print will not get unhooked. Prerna has written a post on this, about print being the most satisfying medium.
However the survey did throw up some positive findings. A few publications have done alright. Economic Times is one example. Here are some of the main findings: (all this data is Round 2 data and changes are as compared to Round 1).
- ET is the only business publication that has not lost readers. ET’s has grown by 10% in Mumbai and 17 percent in Delhi.
- Amongst the top ten dailes in India (all languages, including English), the majority (six out of ten) face a declining readership.
- Out of the four that grew, three are Indian language publications and the fourth is Times of India. Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi) grew by 3 lakhs and the Rajasthan Patrika (Hindi) by almost 5 lakhs. The Times of India (English) gained only a little, just 0.69 per cent and ‘Ananda Bazar Patrika (Bengali) increased it’s readership by 5 percent.
- The Times and also ABP made it to the top 10 list, which they wern’t in earlier.
- Where Times gained, a Marathi newspaper lost out… Lokmat, which is still the largest read Marathi daily. But Lokmat is no more in the top 10 most read list.
- Dainik Jagran is still the number one despite its readership having declined by over 6 lakhs.
- The majority of southern language publications show declining readership, although Telugu dailies have shown only a 2 percent decline and Malyalam publications have not declined significantly, even though their readerships has remained stagnant.
- Amongst all the south Indian language publications, Malyalam publications are doing the best.
What’s interesting is that the readership of English language publications seems to be growing, although slowly. Sure, almost all English language publications have declining readership but one has to take into account that an English daily which entered the market some years ago (DNA) is doing well and yet Times of India has grown. It does seem as if English dailies are slowly gaining readership and regional dailies are losing out. Does this mean that more Indians are turning away from their mother tongue?
Let’s take a look at the top ten list (present readership and decline/growth figures):
1. Dainik Jagran (Hindi) – readership of 1.65 crore (1 crore = 10 million). Decline by 3.5 per cent.
2. Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi)- readership of 1.28 crore. A growth of 2.4 per cent.
3. Malayala Manorama (Malyalam) – readership of 86.62 lakh (one lakh is one hundred thousand) A decline of almost 2 lakhs.
4. Hindustan Times (English) – readership of 85.51 lakh. A decline of 5.5 per cent.
5. Amar Ujala (Hindi) – readership of 80.75 lakh. A decline of 2.1 per cent.
6..Daily Thanthi (Tamil) – readership of 79.1 lakh. A decline of 5.2 per cent.
7. Rajasthan Patrika (Hindi) – readerships of 74.02 lakh. And increase of 6.5 per cent, highest increase amongst the top 10 dailies.
8. Eenadu (Telugu) – readership of 69.19 lakh. A decline 4.34 per cent.
9. Ananda Bazar Patrika (Bengali) – readership of 68.55 lakh. An increase of 4.84 per cent.
10. Times of India (English): readership of 68.28 lakh. An increase of 0.69 per cent.
ABP and TOI are the new kids on the block. They were missing in the top ten list in Round 1. And unfortunately, Mathrubhumi (Malyalam) and Lokmat (Marathi), which were at eighth and 10th positions in the last round are no longer in the top ten.
There are four Hindi newspapers in the top ten list, 2 English, one each of Tamil, Telugu and Malyalam and Bengali. As Hindi is spoken by the maximum number of Indians, it is natural that newspapers in this language dominate the top ten list. What this list also reveals is that Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam and Bengali have a very strong presence in the country.
But is Marathi slipping? Are less people speaking and reading Marathi? I do not have access to the complete IRS report and do not know whether the other Marathi newspapers have a declining readership. But the trend does seem to be that language newspapers on the whole are losing out. The other Marathi newspapers besides Lokmat which are widely read are Daily Sakal, Punya Nagri, Pudhari and Loksatta with readerships of 126 lakh, 99 lakh, 63 lakh and 46 lakh respectively.
If one Malyalam publication (Matrubhumi) has dropped out of the top ten it could well be because Kerala has low birth rates. Inspite of the small population it is creditable that Malayalam publications are doing so well overall, better than publications of other south indian languages. Not very surprising as Kerala inspite of it’s small population has 100 percent literacy.