IRS 2019 Q2 reveals the fear of declining newspaper readership

By 19 Aug 2019

It was always a murmur that the health of print media in the country is not in the finest of shape. The findings of the IRS 2019 Q2 (April-July 2019) only shines the light on the uncomfortable truth. That the readership was low even during elections, during which the fieldwork for this edition of the study would have taken place, shows that the readership is moving steadily to the digital media or consumption of news is going towards television.

The survey found that the consumption of news on digital platforms has been increasing

The Indian Readership Survey data, released by the Media Research Users Council on 14 August 2019, revealed that the total readership (read in last one month) is holding steady while the average issue readership (read yesterday) is on the decline. The survey found that the consumption of news on digital platforms has also been increasing.

The IRS 2019 Q2 data is a rolling average of the last 2 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.

When it comes to total readership, English dailies saw a slight growth from 2.9% in Q1 to 3% in the Q2 survey. Hindi dailies managed to hold its 17% reach while the regional dailies saw a decline of 1% (from 20% in Q1 to 19% in Q2).

The average issue readership (AIR) numbers are far more alarming for the print industry. The Hindi dailies dropped from 7.1% in Q1 to 6.7% in Q2. While English dailies managed to retain its 1.2% AIR. Regional dailies saw a decline from 8.4% to 8.1% in Q2.

The IRS 2019 Q2 findings confirmed that consumption of news on digital platforms is increasing. Barring two newspapers (Daily Thanthi and The Times of India), the AIR of all the top ten dailies declined in the quarter under review.

Among English dailies, The Hindustan Times in its stronghold Delhi market and The Hindu in Chennai, its home-ground were both on a losing streak in the AIR. The Telegraph in Calcutta was however able to increase its readership over the previous quarter.

The total readership of magazines in IRS 2019 Q2 was 8% similar to what it was in the previous quarter. The AIR also remained the same at 4%. India Today English continues to be the most read magazine in India followed by its Hindi version.

Internet growing

In a nutshell, the reach of print, television, radio and cinema vis-à-vis the previous IRS quarter largely remained unchanged, the notable exception being the internet, which continued to grow. The consumption of news on digital platforms is on the rise. And whilst the total readership (TR) of publication remains steady, average issue readership (AIR) has seen a marginal decline.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Greater South, and chairman and CEO, India, Dentsu Aegis Network and chairman, MRUC, said, “The findings of IRS 2019 Q2 gives us a clear picture of the reality we all know, that digital is on a roll and continues to grow at a faster pace. Print readership remains healthy and I firmly believe the future lies in the power of two and not just one.”

He added, “I am pleased to see IRS release every quarter. Not only is the IRS back on track, but has emerged much stronger and is being universally accepted as the currency for readership in India.

Vikram Sakhuja, group CEO Madison Media and OOH, Madison World and IRS technical committee chairman, said, “We are pleased with the quality of data that is being released this quarter. India is consuming more media than ever before. Internet is now fast catching up with print and these two along with TV are the dominant mediums that can be used to reach consumers.”

Hindi dailies decline

Top four Hindi dailies — Dainik Jagran, Hindustan, Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala — have witnessed a decline in their average issue readership (AIR) for the second quarter of IRS 2019. On the other hand, the English daily The Times of India has recorded a growth of 2.55% in IRS 2019 Q2 over the previous quarter.

Daily Thanthi is the only regional language newspaper among the top 10 dailies to have registered growth in its AIR.

In terms of total readership, Dainik Bhaskar bucked the trend and registered growth over the previous survey while Dainik Jagran, Hindustan and Amar Ujala witnessed marginal decline in their total readership.

Daily Thanthi, Malayala Manorama, Vijay Karnataka and Eenadu lead in South

Among the top 10 dailies in India, Daily Thanthi, the Tamil language daily bagged the fourth spot. The daily reported 24054000 as compared to 24916000 in IRS 2019 Q1, thereby adding 8.62-lakh readers. It also took the first spot among Tamil regional newspapers and is the only regional language among the top-10 dailies to have registered growth in AIR.

The Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama took the seventh spot among the top 10 dailies in India and first among the Malayalam dailies. It has also shown a growth in total readership. The daily reported 180,91,000 TR in Q2 as compared to 174,80,000 TR in IRS 2009 Q1, there by adding 6.1- lakh readers in TR.

Meanwhile, Mathrubhumi reported 13095000 TR as compared to 12841000 TR in Q1.

Coming to Kannada dailies, Vijay Karnataka bagged the first spot. It reported 80,81,000 TR as compared to 78,60,000 TR in IRS 2019 Q1, thereby adding 2.3-lakh readers.

Among Telugu dailies, Eenadu took the first spot. However, the readership of Eenadu has declined. Sakshi bagged the second spot among Telugu newspapers.

South publications also bagged spots among the top 20 magazines in the country. Vanitha, a fortnightly magazine from Malayala Manorama Group, clinched the fourth spot. Ananda Vikatan, Mathrubhumi Thozhilvartha, Mathrubhumi Arogya Masika, Balarama are the other magazines from South India which are among the top 20 magazines in India.

India Today English and Hindi retain top positions

According to the IRS report, for Q2, weekly news magazines India Today English and India Today Hindi were the most-read magazines in India, wherein nine out of top 20 magazines witnessed growth over the last quarter. The survey results for the second quarter of 2019 showed a 1% decline in overall reach or penetration of magazines in the country to 5% of the total universe of 108,71,43,000.

However, the total readership (TR) of magazines remained stable at 8%. It was 13% in urban and 5% in rural markets. The AIR also was unchanged at 4%m with 7% in urban and 3% in rural.

India Today English remained the most-read magazine with a total readership of 91,56,000 in IRS 2019 Q2, marginally up from 91,51,000 in the previous quarter. India Today Hindi was the second most-read magazine with a TR of 74,56,000, down 3% from 77,11,000 in the previous quarter.

Samanya Gyan Darpan, Vanita and Pratiyogita Darpan took third, fourth and fifth spots respectively. \

(Courtesy agencies)

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