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Indian media consumption rises

News, 31 March 2015

NEW DELHI: Overall Indian media consumption rose during 2014, with print reporting the strongest growth in terms of total numbers of users although radio was the fastest growing medium, according to a new study.

The data were contained in the latest Indian Readership Survey, the first such report in more than a year following an outcry from publishers when a new-look survey, based on a changed methodology, produced some anomalies. The new data were welcomed by the advertising industry.

"It's good that the numbers are out," said Mallikarujun Das, chief executive of media agency Starcom MediaVest Group. "For the past two years, we have been relying on historical data and practically living without a currency." And that, he told Live Mint, was a "scary" place to be.

Print saw a respectable 7% increase in the number of readers, adding 19.7m during the course of the year to reach a total of 301.6m, helped by the 2014 general election. This rate of growth was more than twice that of TV (+3%) but less than half that of radio (+18%) or digital (+15.5%).

Hindi-language newspapers continued to dominate the top three positions in the IRS report. Dainik Jagran topped the list, with an average issue readership (AIR) of 16,631,000, up from 15,527,000 in 2013.

In second spot was Hindustan, with an AIR of 14,746,000, followed by Dainik Bhaskar, with an AIR of 13,830,000.

The Times of India remained the most-read English language paper, its AIR of 7,580,000 keeping it well ahead of the Hindustan Times (4,515,000) and The Hindu (1,622,000).

Only one of the top ten dailies had lost readers: Mathrubhumi – a Malayalam language paper published in Kerala – dropped more than 100,000 readers and now claims an AIR of 6,020,000.

While the advertising industry was pleased to see new IRS figures there was a hint of frustration at the planned frequency of publication, with the Media Research Users Council indicating this would be done on an annual basis.

Nagesh Alai, group chairman of advertising agency FCB Ulka, observed that "readership change is an ongoing pattern.

"Quarterly data may be too short a spell to take decision, while annual may be a bit too long. The answer lies somewhere in between," he suggested.

Data sourced from Live Mint, MRUC; additional content by Warc staff