IRS 2019 Q1: Dailies add 1.8 crore new readers, magazines 0.9 crore over 15 months

As the IRS Q1 2019 data was unveiled in Mumbai on 26 April 2019, magazine publishers would have pumped their fist in the air and indulged themselves for the first time in years. The study, which claims to be the largest of its kind, has announced that magazine readership has grown by 0.9 crore in the period between IRS 2017 and the latest round. The findings are even more impressive when one considers the larger pie of daily readership that has added 1.8 crore readers.

01 May 2019 | By PrintWeek India

These findings fly in the face of an assumption, by many in the business, that the magazine publishing business was in a state of constant decline.  

The further rounds of the IRS data will be reported on a quarterly basis.      

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Greater South and Chairman and CEO – India, Dentsu Aegis Network and Chairman, MRUC, said, “I’m delighted to announce that the IRS is back on track with the first quarter release of data, which paves the way for quarterly updates. This was something that the industry was expecting from IRS over the past several years. Quarterly release of data will enhance the ability of the IRS to mirror the changing media and marketing landscape of India in a more timely and realistic manner.”  

The print story continues to grow with total number of readers increasing from 40.7 to 42.5 crore. Also, internet usage has increased with India now having a total of 384 million active internet users.

“These findings are in line with the market truths and a testimony of IRS’ rigorous processes and quality control norms,” said Bhasin.  

Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO Madison Media & OOH, Madison World and IRS technical committee chairman, added, “I’m satisfied with the release of this round of IRS. In particular, we have used technology to infuse a totally new standard of field controls. The resultant data is robust and representative of the diversity and heterogeneity of our wonderful country. Overall Media consumption and Print in particular is vibrant and growing. Most stakeholders should be encouraged with this snapshot of how India is consuming Media and Print.”  

Meanwhile, local languages presses saw a significant rise with Hindi and language publications continuing to lead the print growth story.

As per IRS 2019 Q1, Dainik Jagran continues to lead among the top 20 dailies in terms of last one month read (Total Readership) as well as read yesterday (Average Issue Readership). Dainik Jagran has garnered Total Readership (TR) of 73,673,000 in Q1 IRS 2019, compared to TR of 70,377,000 in IRS 2017. Dainik Jagran’s Average Issue Readership (AIR) stood at 20,258,000 in Q1 IRS 2019, a marginal increase from 20,241,000 in IRS 2017.

In the top 20 list, Dainik Jagran was followed by Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Daily Thanthi and Lokmat in the top five. Among the top ten regional dailies, there was a change at the bottom of the table with the Marathi daily Sakaal moving upwards and Tamil daily Dinamalar moving down.   

Among English dailies, The Times of India showed a significant gain. Retaining its number one position, the newspaper recorded a total readership of 1,52,36,000 in IRS 2019 Q1 against 1,30,45,000 of total readership in IRS 2017. The Times of India was followed by The Hindu and The Economic Times.

Even the readership of print magazines has witnessed sustained growth, all pointing towards a vibrant print growth and readership story. There has been a growth in magazine readership from the IRS 2017 report to IRS 2019 Q1 with 0.9 crore additional readers.

The data released by IRS in 2017 and 2019 also makes a steep departure in terms of methodology used. From increase in sample size and use of new technology and new standards of field controls, the re-imagined approach addresses the concerns of some publishers, who had in 2014 complained about “shocking anomalies” in the data.

Also, the IRS will now be releasing quarterly data which was a longstanding demand from the industry stakeholders. This will not only help advertisers get more relevant data but will also help publications to relook at their growth strategy in a more and realistic way.

According media experts, a print story gives a contextual understanding of any subject which the internet media cannot provide. In the beginning of the new fiscal, all major dailies carried a full-page advertisement ‘Print is Proof’. According to this campaign, signed by bigwigs in the print media, including the likes of The Hindu Group, Hindustan Times, The Times of India, Dainik Bhaskar, print is still the most reliable source of news.

The Q1 IRS data has re-established print as a resurgent, consistent and robust platform and for the naysayers who wrote obituaries for print, it’s time to rethink.

(Courtesy agencies)