The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), a nonprofit organisation that has certified circulation figures since India's first full year of independence in 1948, has said that the average number of copies of print publications went up by 23.7 million in the last decade.
"If you look at CAGR [compound annual growth rate], it has outpaced even the population growth, which is at 1.5%. In absolute terms, it's a big number. Also, print comes with a huge credibility," Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Media Brands India, told the Economic Times.
Increases in literacy rates and education provision since independence have created fertile ground for the growth of newspapers, Sinha went on to say, suggesting that readers find print both more credible and more aspirational.
The ABC noted that regional language newspapers have contributed significantly to the growth. "Newspapers are thinking along the lines of greater local news coverage in order to cater to every segment of consumers as well as readers," it said in a statement.
Hindi was the fastest growing print language with a CAGR of 8.76%, spurring print in northern India, which showed the highest rate of growth (7.83%) out of the country's four zones.
Elsewhere, regional languages also saw positive growth, notably Telugu (8.28%), Kannada (6.40%), Tamil (5.51%) and Malayalam (4.11%) following Hindi. English language publications experienced below average growth at 2.87%.
Girish Agarwal, a member of ABC and director of DB Corp, noted the health of the medium, saying "There was a 5% increase in circulation and the cover prices also went up by 10% YoY in the last 10 years. There has been steady penetration across the country. Within India, every possible market is growing."
In recent years (2013-15) circulation has risen in India by between 12% and 18%. For comparison, the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan saw a drop in circulation of 4-12%, CNN reported.
For Indian publications, a growth in readership means a growth in revenues, as Indian publications are forecast to draw a collective advertising revenue of almost Rs 300bn by 2021, up Rs 100bn from 2016.
The ABC estimates that the print industry will, by 2021, be worth around US$6.7 billion, compounding the bureau's assessment that "India is one of the brightest spots [for] print media."
Data sourced from the Economic Times, CNN; additional content by WARC staff.