Major Hindi dailies can flex their muscles in the coming 5 years

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Hindi dailies

The Hindi dailies represent around one-third of the printed newspaper in the country. Recent examination of the DAVP list of language papers, ABC circulation figures and the IRS 2017 readership survey figures have been decoded by IppStar (www.ippstar.org). These public figures taken together with its own survey data and discussion with expert informants in the language dailies has led to a quantitative understanding together with some thoughts on how the Hindi dailies will progress over the next five years. IppStar has also begun its research of Marathi and Tamil dailies some of which will be shared in subsequent articles.

The main proposition that we sought to test was that the leading Hindi dailies will continue to grow in editions, color pagination and circulation. It is likely that circulation revenues will increase with a gradual rise in the cover price but this is seen by publishers as merely a way of keeping up with newsprint price rises, which as a rule of thumb may be anticipated to rise at US$ 60 each year given the global shrinkage in demand.

Hindi dailies have cover prices ranging from Rs. 1 to Rs. 5 and the price can vary from day to day, reflecting both pagination changes and a way of increasing prices gradually while moderating customer resistance. Other circulation schemes include sale of annual subscriptions in advance that can be encashed each month in exchange for the daily of one’s choice at discounted rates.

We examined approximately 800 Hindi dailies and divided these into five group according to their circulations which we estimate to be about 5 crore copies or 50 million. More than half this circulation comes from the top 20 newspaper groups while another 1.5 crore copies are produced by the next 145 newspapers. The balance copies are produced by the remaining more than 600 much smaller dailies.

The thesis which is propounded by several leading Hindi newspaper professionals is that in the next five years till FY 2022-23, it is likely that the big groups will continue to expand. And that the smaller dailies especially those that produce 4, 8 and 12 broadsheet pages daily with little or no color and which have circulations below 50,000 copies are likely to effectively close down. (It must also be pointed here also be that in no other Indian language are there so many more dailies in the DAVP list than those with ABC audited circulations.)

IppStar forecasts that with moderate growth the circulation of Hindi dailies will increase by .5 core or 5 million copies in the next five years with the maximum growth accruing to the leading 165 Hindi dailies. In the case of high growth over the next five years the forecast is for a circulation growth of 1 crore or 10 million copies daily which will primarily accrue to the leading 165 dailies and of these the top 20 groups are expected to get the major share. IppStar and its expert informants expect that the bottom 600 dailies will decline in circulation by more than 5% and that many of these will close down.

The thesis of some of the leading Hindi publishers is that the potential readership now demands local, national, international news and infotainment in one place and in full color, a requirement that can only be met with larger resources and at least 20 full color broad sheet pages, with more pages for supplements and festival season advertising opportunities. This indicates that only the leading Hindi daily newspaper organizations have access to the capital and resources to provide these type of products. In fact, one can expect several scenarios in which the leaders compete to expand in terms of geography, demographics and even omni-channel media.

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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