Media Research Users Council announces Indian Readership Survey for Q2 2019

Print news industry faces slowdown

IRS Survey for Q2 2019

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.

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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