INMA Master Classes in Delhi, Hyderabad focus on building blocks to digital subscription models

World’s foremost expert on digital subscriptions brought in for workshops

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The International News Media Association (INMA) kickstarted the year 2019 of its South Asia Division with the INMA Master Classes – Road Map to Reader Revenue in India, twin city events hosted in Hyderabad on 26 February and Delhi-NCR on 27-28 February.

The INMA Master Classes were extremely relevant for South Asian publishers as INMA brought the world’s foremost expert on digital subscriptions Grzegorz Piechota to India for these practical workshops. Piechota is researcher-in-residence at INMA, senior fellow at the University of Oxford, and head of INMA’s Readers First Initiative.

The day-long workshops in Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR were structured along similar lines to each other:  to understand the building blocks necessary to get to a digital subscription model, the strategy behind it, and how to integrate that into businesses.

The Hyderabad Master Class hosted leading news publishers from the South India region, while the Delhi-NCR Master Class witnessed participating media houses from the North and East India regions along with attendees from other countries in the sub-continent. Both Master Classes had Piechota sharing best practices, benchmarks and pragmatic inputs with publishers, editors and technical heads on how to best prepare for the transition from a reader to a customer.

The Delhi-NCR Master Class was a two-part series and in addition to the full day Master Class on 28 February, comprised of a private interaction on 27 February between Piechota and CEOs and heads of media organizations, to provide a top-level overview of the digital subscription revolution worldwide.

Pawan Agarwal, vice president – South Asia Board, INMA and chairperson for the event,  commended the structure of the Master Class and the comprehensive expertise of  Grzegorz and also observed how “the detailed Q&A interaction and deep dive discussions around it not only exemplified the importance of the four sessions but also added value to the participants’ knowledge base.”

I Venkat, vice president of the INMA South Asia Division Board, presided over the Hyderabad event. Lauding the large turnout and overall quality of the Master Class and engaged participants, Venkat felt that the “extended interactions with Grzegorz would have greatly added to the institutional knowledge of all the participants’ organizations.  As INMA we were both happy to be able to share evidence-based advice and practical examples with members of the news media houses, and encouraged by the response.”

Madhavi Sekhri, head of INMA South Asia Division says, “It was our endeavor to enable attendees to derive maximum benefit from INMA’s vast body of information and studies on the worldwide shift to readers’ revenues. It was a positive first step of 2019 towards many more such events that INMA is planning to increase its footprint in South Asia.”

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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