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Print Media: Losing shine

Oct 3, 2001

Print media continues to be the medium attracting the highest advertising spends, commanding a market share of around 53%. However, the market share of print media has been on a downward spiral in last few years as shown in the chart below.

The print media has been facing double jeopardy from TV & Cable news as well as from online web news. Apart from real time nature of these delivery channels what makes them attractive is easily digestable form in which audio-visual channels present news. Some web sites too have started audio dissemination of news. There is a steep rise in number of people surfing for online news and getting news reports delivered to them on their home pages.

TV and Internet continue to capture a larger pie of urban media consumption. Consider this. An average Indian spends on an average 2 hours on media consumption. Of this, TV viewing forms the single largest chunk of an urban Indian's media consumption, accounting for 72% or 86 minutes of total time. Since 1995, TV's share of the total media pie has increased from 62% to 72% in 2001. In terms of television viewing, not only has there been a 52 per cent increase in viewers during the last decade to 160 m, but also the growth of the regional language channels has been the most striking feature. Tamil channels have seen their viewership rise by 16% while Marathi and Telegu channels have seen their viewers increase by 14% and 13% p.a. in FY00. On the other hand the growth in print media consumption has at best remained flat accounting for 16% of urban media consumption since 1995.

The trends in media consumption for print media are more concerning, especially for urban India, because reading is largely a large town habit. Only 17% of the literate population in rural India is served by publications.

Advertising revenues constitute a major chunk of revenues for the print industry while circulation revenues supplement the ad-revenues. Though the number of advertisements for print media is showing an increase, the revenues are showing a sharp drop due to a dip in average ad-rates. Available data on print media revealed revenue dropped for magazines by 5% and daily and Sunday newspapers by 7% and 10% in FY00, whereas syndicated and cable television showed gains of 5% and 6% respectively.

On the circulation front there is some good news. The readership base in Urban India has grown from 63 m to 96 m, a growth of 52%. There is further scope for growth as 59 m urban adults are literate but do not read any publication. The challenge for the print media would be to convert this population in to readers. India is the second largest newspaper market in world just after Japan. Newspaper readers have grown more than 25% since 1996, which is amongst the highest growth in the world.

The print media is now set to exploit content across different platforms including Internet and television to provide momentum in their advertising revenues. To ward off the imminent danger, they are expanding their web presence so as to attract millions of eyeballs round the globe and enlarge their domestic subscriber base by launching publications in local languages to tap a growing base of young literate population in the country.

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