An online study conducted by the Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Pune, has claimed that readers of online editions of English newspapers in India have outstripped Non-Resident Indian readers.
According to the survey, a majority 67 per cent of online English newspaper readers resided in India and 12 per cent in the US. In a similar survey conducted by the University in 1998, 62 per cent readers were staying in the US, while 10 per cent were staying in India.
The rest 20 per cent readership, apart from the 80 per cent readers in the US and India, is divided mainly among the UK, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, etc. The present survey also shows that readers of Indian newspapers on Internet were scattered in over 60 countries.
Of the total 1,132 readers of the sites of English who participated in the online survey, 67 per cent readers of English newspapers were residing in cities and towns of India. This established that profile of the readership of online editions had undergone a major change during the last eight years. In a similar study conducted in 1998, only 10 per cent readers were Indians residing in India, while 62 per cent readers were non-resident Indians residing in the US and 4 per cent in Canada.
The survey was conducted through displayed announcement as a prominent banner on the home pages of 13 major English newspapers for a period of minimum two weeks during July and August 2006. The survey didn’t include news sites and portals without parent print editions, web sites of print magazines and electronic media and web-only magazines.
The Internet-aided survey was also carried out through a questionnaire posted at the Department’s website and made available to surfers through banner announcements on homepages of newspapers.
The survey found that though the proportion of female Internet newspaper readers (13 per cent) was considerably smaller than male readers of English Internet newspapers, it had almost doubled since 1998, when female readership was a meagre 7 per cent.
The survey further found that majority (77 per cent) of online readers was in the age group of 21-40 years. Most readers (79 per cent) spent at least 15 minutes on reading the newspaper on the Internet. A majority of them spent up to 30 minutes to one hour also on this activity. Professionals from the fields of IT, education and media constituted almost half (48 per cent) the readership of English newspapers on the Internet.
Another finding of the present study was that a large number of readers visited the online editions to ‘access archival material’ (47 per cent). English newspaper readers also visited the web editions to ‘participate in on-line polls’ and ‘to kill time’.
However, matrimonial advertisement section of the web editions of the newspaper did not seem to attract the readers even though the readership was dominated by youngsters. Only about 2.5 per cent of the readers of English newspapers and 3 per cent of the Marathi respondents visited the matrimonial section of the online editions.