ToI’s strong hold over South India

ToI’s strong hold over South India
TOI’s strong hold in South India

According to some industry experts, the newspaper industry is witnessing an all-time low in circulation. However discouraging that may be, it is believed that the regional language newspapers from Southern India have been enjoying a commanding position in this space. For instance, The Times of India (ToI) surpasses all other major publications in terms of circulation in Bengaluru.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), ToI stands well above the other known dailies in the south like Deccan Herald and The Hindu. ABC figures also suggest that TOI has gained a credible margin with a circulation of 4,88,486 copies in Bengaluru; the second and third position being held by Deccan Herald with 1,95,853 copies and The Hindu with 1,30,234 copies.

ToI launched its Bengaluru edition in the year 2003 with Bangalore Mirror; this was a time when The Hindu and Deccan Herald had a credible share in the southern market. The Bengaluru edition of ToI had its own share of success with a significant rise in ad revenue, which went to reach a position just below Mumbai and Delhi. Bengaluru as a city has seen wars for the top position in newsprint in the year 2007, during the launch of DNA. ToI realized the growing competition in Bengaluru, which led the company to buy Vijayananda Printers Limited (VPL) in December 2012, who had two newspapers then titled as Vijay Karnataka and Usha Kiran (both in Kannada language), and an English news daily Vijay Times. Bangalore Mirror was also relaunched in the year 2007—the same year that DNA was introduced—which added to the stiff competition in the Bengaluru market.

With inclusion of VPL, ToI added a bigger team, increasing its manpower and press. This enabled the group to obtain and gain a strong hold over South India (particularly Bengaluru), which is the third powerhouse for newsprint after Delhi and Mumbai. If we look at the global scenario, the growth graph of newspaper businesses in Asia is witnessing stagnancy. In this backdrop, this achievement of ToI will instill more confidence among the group members to attract even those readers who have so far been restricted only to the digital medium for news consumption.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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