Magazine readership grows as much as newspaper readership

IRS Q1 2019 – The incredible Indian Readership Survey

Mathrubhumi store at Kochi airport

The findings of the Indian Readership Survey Q1 2019 revealed that 1.8 crore readers have been added to the daily readership of newspaper and magazines from IRS 2017. Half of the readers added 0.9 crore (9 million) are magazine readers.

As per the IRS’19 Q1 data released by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC), the Indian print industry which has commissioned the research claims that it is growing. Both newspapers and magazines are growing faster in regional languages than in English. A closer look indicates that perhaps magazine which are perhaps fewer in their actual print quantities (circulations) have achieved an equal increase in readership over the past two years since the last IRS survey – both newspapers and magazines have added 9 million readers over the two years.

More regional language magazines are amongst the fastest growing 20 magazines in readership. The total readership of magazines according to the IRS 19 is 8.7 crore. (87 million) Between IRS17 and IRS19 Q1, urban magazine readers have grown by 13% to 4.9 crore readers (49 million) as opposed to 12% growth in the previous survey. IRS17 reported 4.5 crore (45 million) magazine readers. The 5% growth in rural readership to 3.8 crore (38 million) remains the same. Rural magazine readership was reported at 3.4 crore (34 million) in IRS’17.

The top ranking magazine with a 91.52 lakhs or (9.152 million) readership is India Today (English) reporting considerable growth from its IRS17 readership figure of 79.92 lakhs or 7.992 million readers. The second magazine in the list new list is India Today (Hindi) with a readership rate of 77.12 lakh as opposed to 71.59 lakh in IRS17. According to the IRS 2019, the two magazines have added 17.1 lakh (1.71 million) readers in the past two years

Samanya Gyan Darpan in Hindi is the third-ranking magazine with a readership rate of 7.495 million as opposed to 6.882 million two years ago. Vanitha in Malayalam ranks fourth with a readership of 7.028 million as opposed to 6.126 million in IRS17. Pratiyogita Darpan (Hindi) is reported at 6.418 million readers for IRS19 Q1 while in IRS17 its readership was 5.924 million.

The other 15 magazine in the IRS19 top 20 list include Meri Saheli in Hindi, Bal Bhaskar in Hindi, General Knowledge Today in English, Champak in Hindi, The Sportstar in English, Ananda Vikatan in Tamil, Sarita in Hindi, Diamond Cricket Today in Hindi, Cricket Samrat in Hindi, Diamond Cricket Today in English, Grih Shobha in Hindi, Filmfare in English, Mathrubhumi Arogya Masika in Malayalam and Kumudum in Tamil.

The new IRS’19 Q1 data has apparently introduced quarterly data collection and reporting. As far as the ratio of actual print circulation to average monthly readership our estimate is that it varies from 16 readers per copy to 45 readers per copy and could be as high as 100 to 1. In any case most if not all media planners by and large ignore the current IRS data.

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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