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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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