While highlighting the various growth patterns across genre that the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2008 R2 has shown, Hansa Research's Ashok Das informed that magazines continued to see a tremendous decline in readership. Both the total readership (TR) and average issue readership (AIR) metrics were seeing a drop in the case of magazines - the latter declining much sharper than the former. The AIR numbers see the top ten players shifting positions. Hindi fortnightly Saras Salil continues to dominate the overall chart of all India AIR numbers. Malayalam fortnightly Vanitha follows. English weekly India Today (English) is on the number three position. These three players are on the same position as the top ten numbers in the IRS 2008 R1.
However, Hindi monthly Pratiyogita Darpan has climbed up and takes the number four position in this round. Tamil weekly Kumudam follows. (See all India magazine readership table below)
The Great Magazine Debate
Magazine readership has evoked various debates in the industry. One of the most vocal points made by magazine publishers is that magazines as a genre differ on various grounds from dailies. This is one reason why the measurement for magazines should take the difference into cognizance unlike the current prevalent structure of one-size-fits-all.
The Media Research Users Council (MRUC) had even initiated dialogue with the Indian Newspapers Society (INS) to work together on various aspects, magazines measurement leading the agenda over a year back. When asked on why any relevant measures for magazine measurement were not in place already, Sabina Solomon, GM, MRUC, divulged that given the amount of work that needed to be done and the energies that needed to be invested on this subject, a relevant magazine measurement system would not be in place before 2010.
Solomon added, "There is a lot that has to be done to be able to measure magazines aptly in the changing media scenario. We were not even looking at IRS 2008 or even 2009 to be able to action these changes. You would see them only in 2010." She explained that the dialogue with INS was an on-going one on the subject. She noted, "MRUC is an industry body too and hence, technically, we don't need to go to any other industry body to proceed with any research improvements that we have to make. However, we have been in active conversation with an industry bodies like the INS since we believe that they would have a considered view on the use of data and a relevant future, and we can get a collective view from them."
Bringing the overall media consumption habits to light here, Solomon attempted to put things in perspective on the drastically dropping numbers. She said, "There is a general decline in media consumption. At an individual level, there is fragmentation taking place and people are consuming lesser media in many cases. The situation requires us to take stock of the changing media landscape, as an industry, and then pave a way forward."
Other media may be showing declining trend, but the trend is most highlighted in magazines. In the total readership metric too, magazines have not done very well but needless to say, at least better than AIR.