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IRS 2009 R1: English magazines see further dip in readership

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IRS 2009 R1: English magazines see further dip in readership

English magazines have continued to show a decline in readership in the latest round of the Indian Readership Survey. Both Total Readership (TR) and Average Issue Readership (AIR) metrics see a sharp decline, with TR going down more. The AIR numbers see the top ten players shifting positions.

In an attempt to go beyond the analysis of topline data,, in association with media analysis firm Stratagem Media, presents IRS 2009 R1 INSIGHT. Today’s Insight focuses on English Magazines. Data analysis by Stratagem Media.


Magazine publishing is serious business. On the one hand, every newspaper worth it’s salt has added supplement after another to its main issue, to fortify its readership, and willy-nilly, infringed on to magazine territory, and on the other, an arguably snazzier, more up-to-date medium like television has seen launch after launch in almost every possible genre, which not-so-long-ago, was the prerogative of niche magazines.

And of course, the action, almost always begins with English. So now, even in the English audience space, TV and Newspapers, sandwich magazines, in the battle for a share of the mind, in every genre – be it socio-political or business or entertainment or lifestyle.

Like last year again 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.

Scope & Methodology

Today’s article presents the current picture for English magazines – which have been pan-Indian, by default.

That the medium has been on a steady slope down-hill over the last few years is common knowledge, but here’s another perspective. Leading English national magazines, whose regular readership (AIR) would touch a few million in the yesteryears, on an All India basis, now deliver a national readership which is comparable to that of the leading English newspaper in Mumbai/ Delhi.

In the last few years, the field has been wide-open with several foreign titles being launched in India, either by way of a licensing arrangement with Indian publishers or even independently by the foreign publisher (Conde Nast).


From the table above, it is very evident that English magazines have taken a backseat with their Average issue readership figures. Among the many magazines mentioned here, there are just handfuls that have shown some kind of growth.

India Today is the highest read English magazine in the county with an AIR of 1,955,000 which is an 8.7 percent decline in its readership. Reader’s Digest has seen a 2.1 percent drop in its AIR and now stands at 1,327,000. General Knowledge Today has dropped by 8.5 percent which is now at 1,121,000 as compared to the last rounds figures which stood at 1,225,000. Competition Success Review has an AIR of 766,00 and has seen a 3.5 percent drop. Outlook which stands with an AIR of 533,000 has seen a seven per cent drop in its AIR. Filmfare is the new entrant in the top ten English magazines with an AIR of 490,000. Wisdom has seen a 4.6 percent drop with an AIR of 455,000. Stardust has slipped down the list with a 11.4 percent decrease. The AIR now stands at 388,000. Diamond Cricket Today has an AIR of 378,000 which is an 5.5 percent decrease in its AIR figures. Competition Refresher has increased by 37.3 percent in its AIR figures and now stands at 335,000 as compared to 244,000 in 2008 R2.

The Week has dropped by 4.2 percent in its AIR which now stands at 322,000 while Femina has dropped by 4 percent and is now with an AIR of 309,000. Business Today has dropped by 12 percent in its AIR from 326,000 in 2008 R2 to 287,000 this round. Health & Nutrition has an AIR of 250,000 which is a 11.3 percent decline. The Sportstar has seen 14.8 percent drop in its AIR and now stands at 242,000. Business India stands at 222,000 which is a 7.5 percent decline in its AIR. Woman’s Era has seen an AIR of 200,000 which is a 4.8 percent decline. Auto Car has a 13.1 percent growth which has increased from 176,000 in 2008 R2 to 199,000 in 2009 R1. Champak has seen a four per cent decrease with an AIR of 193,000. Business India has an AIR of 166,000 which is a great decline of 18.6 percent.

Business World has an AIR of 165,000 while Outlook Traveller has seen an AIR of 146,000. Digit has seen a 5.8 percent decline and Junior Science Refresher has seen a 11.7 percent. Society has seen a growth of 1.7 percent. India Today Travel Plus has seen the maximum growth of 96.7 percent. Frontline has seen a 20.8 percent decline. Tinkle – Amar Chitrakatha is one of the few who have seen growth with 0.9 percent. Femina Girl too has seen a growth of 6.2 percent. Auto India, like many others has seen a 18.7 percent decline in its AIR.

P C Quest and Outlook Money have both seen a decline of 17.4 percent and 24.3 percent respectively. Business and Economy has seen a 6.5 percent growth with an AIR of 82,000. Inside Outside has seen a 17.3 percent while Cosmopolitan has seen a 61.4 percent growth. Overdrive has dropped by 23.7 percent. The Telegraph in Schools has grown by 72.5 percent with an AIR of 69,000. New Woman has seen a drop of 9.2 percent while Magic Pot has an AIR of 58,000. Time has seen a growth of 3.6 percent. Cine Blitz has dropped by 5.7 percent while Elle and Savvy have grown by 29.7 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Key Findings:

Forty-three English titles feature in the survey. But just 3 cross the 1 million mark, at a nation-wide scale. The eight largest magazine to feature in the IRS is read by less than one-fifth the number of readers as the no. 1 player.

India Today (IT) leads with just under 2 million regular readers. Outlook delivers 27 % of that number. At no. 2 Reader’s Digest delivers 1.3 million readers – lagging behind IT by about 32 %.

Two relatively low-profile, long-standing titles – viz; - General Knowledge Today and Competition Success Review come in at no. 3 and 4 respectively. GK today delivers more than 1.1 million readers – that’s almost 3 readers for every 5 of India Today. Wisdom magazine is sandwiched at no 6 position by Filmfare above and Stardust blow itself !

The story in urban India is almost the same, with a slightly narrower gap between IT and RD, as well between IT and Outlook. But the gap between IT and GK today & CSR widens considerably in urban India.

In the younger age groups (15 – 29 years), GK Today takes over from RD at no. 2 position & Filmfare dislodges Outlook for the 5th slot.

In SEC A, RD inches closer to IT, and narrows the gap to 22 %. And so does Outlook, which comes in at no. 3 in SEC A.

Reader’s Digest, Outlook & India Today, (in descending order) have a much elderly readership profile compared to the others in the top 8.

Outlook is seen to have the best SEC profile, followed by RD and Stardust.

But in terms of MHI, (Rs 10K plus), the order changes to RD, Stardust and Outlook.

Amongst the top 8 magazines, 7 magazines have shown a decline in readership, over the last round of the IRS 2008 R2, ranging from 2% (RD), to 11 % (Stardust). Whereas Filmfare is the only one, amongst the top 8, which did not feature in the previous round.

In the younger segment, Wisdom seems to have grown by 15 %.

The decline in readership is even more pronounced in SEC A and B.

(Led by Sundeep Nagpal, Stratagem Media Pvt Ltd is an independent media specialist company which provides media buying services to advertisers and ad sales support to leading media houses. For the latter, its range of services includes data analytics, sales/ behavioural training and price structuring.)


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