The Media Research Users Council released the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) data on 14 August, which should be a cause of concern to the print news industry. According to the report, the average issue readership (AIR) numbers (read yesterday) do not paint a rosy picture. The Hindi dailies dropped from 7.1% reach in Q1 2019 to 6.7% in Q2, English dailies held on to 1.2% reach and regional dailies saw a decline from 8.4% reach in Q1 2019 to 8.1 in Q2.
The IRS Q2 2019 data is a rolling average of the last two quarters of IRS 2017 (Q3+Q4) and the first two quarters of IRS 2019 (Q1+Q2). IRS 2019 Q2 fieldwork covers April 2019 through July 2019. The reporting sample size for this data is 3.36 lakh households.
In terms of total readership (TR) numbers (read in last one month), Hindi dailies have been holding steady. They managed to hang on to their 17% reach in Q2 while English dailies saw a slight growth from 2.9% reach in Q1 to 3% in the Q2. Regional dailies witnessed a drop of 1% from 20% reach in Q1 to 19% in Q2.
According to the survey, the largest daily was Dainak Jagran, followed by Hindustan in the second place, Dainik Bhaskar ranking third and Amar Ujala in the fourth place. Daily Thanthi rounded off the top five list by bagging the fifth spot.
However, for the top three dailies, AIR figures in Q2 declined compared to Q1. For Dainik Jagran, AIR figures were 1.81 crore compared to 2.02 crore in Q1; for Hindustan, figures were 1.57 crore versus 1.84 crore in Q1 and for Dainik Bhaskar the figures were 1.53 crore in Q2 compared to 1.64 crore in Q1. The Times of India, the only English daily in the top ten, saw its AIR figures in Q2 increase to 57.8 lakhs compared to 56.45 lakhs in Q1.
In terms of TR, Dainik Jagran was 7.25 crore in Q2 compared to 7.36 crore in Q1; Hindustan was 5.28 crore in Q2 versus 5.46 crore in Q1; Dainik Bhaskar bucked the trend and witnessed TR figure of 5.21 crore in Q2 versus 5.14 crore in Q1. Times of India’s TR figure also rose in Q2 to 1.61 crore compared to 1.52 crore in Q1.
India Today was the biggest the biggest magazine followed by India Today Hindi. The TR of magazines in Q2 was 8%, unchanged from Q1. The AIR also was unchanged at 4%.
Digital news consumption makes an impression
With cheap access to internet, especially on smartphones, online news consumption is on the rise. The survey shows that online consumption of news in the last one month of Q2 grew 15% versus 13.8% in Q1 of calendar year 2019 and 9% in 2017 (full year). In comparison, TR of any daily newspaper has reduced to 35.8% in Q2 versus 36.8% in Q1.