The Indian media planners and buyers and advertisers are in no hurry to look at any metric apart from average issue readership (AIR) for making their media buying decisions. Media analysts and research experts have been saying that the changing media scenario, that sees fragmentation increasing by the day, would soon see total readership (TR) become a more apt currency than the AIR. The data users have mixed opinions on this, but AIR numbers don't seem to have good news for many players, even in this round of the IRS.
The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2008 R2 numbers show that in the all India AIR figures, of the top ten dailies, seven have registered a decline over the last round. The players that have held their ground include Hindi dailies Dainik Bhaskar and Hindustan and Tamil paper Daily Thanthi. Hindi daily Amar Ujala has seen a very marginal drop in its numbers. (See AIR table below)
This decline movement contradicts the trends that were coming from the TR numbers that the MRUC and Hansa Research had presented to the print fraternity on November 4, 2008.
While MRUC has stated clearly that contrary to what publications expect from them, their mandate is not to show growth in readership but capture the market movement. Hansa Research officials had cited various factors that were leading to a drop in overall readership. Some of the points made were that the youth readership was on a decline, as was readership in almost all SECs with the exception of SEC A.