As per the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), trends show that magazines are losing their readership base. Language magazines registered an average issue readership (AIR) of 349.04 in 2011 Q2 as against 376.36 in 2009 R1 – witnessing a 7 per cent decline in overall readership in the last two years.
According to Sanjoy Chakrabarty, Managing Partner, ZenithOptimedia, rising inflation and multiple sources of media access were responsible for a decline in overall readership of magazines. He added, “Due to the sheer cost of magazines, few people are subscribing and the news is available much faster through multiple mediums like TV, online, etc.”
Overall Market Trend – Macro perspective
Regional magazines continue to decline over the years. This year they fell 13 per cent from 202.52 lakh in 2009 R1 to 175.42 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Chakrabarty elaborated that regional magazines are going down as advertisers are shifting their revenue from regional magazines to newspapers.
He added, “Regional magazines are losing their readers because the bulk of advertisers are going to newspapers.”
Although, magazines struggle to regain their readership base over two years, there has been a positive growth of seven percent in English and Hindi language magazines compared to previous year.
English magazines continue to dominate with an AIR of 78.95 lakh in 2011 Q2 compared to an AIR of 73.61 lakh in 2010 Q2.
Chakrabarty is of the opinion that various English magazines have seen a rise as corporate advertisers in the financial business or high-end product business prefer English magazines.
Hindi magazines have registered a decline of two percent – from an AIR of 132.06 lakh in 2009 R1 to an AIR of 129.05 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Deepak Netram, Vice President, Lodestar Universal did not expect the market for Hindi magazines to decline over two years. He stated, “Hindi magazines cater to one of the most critical market clusters, so they became a substantially strong alternative to reach Hindi audiences.”
Periodicity-wise Readership trend:
Periodicity –wise, all magazines have seen seven percent decline over two years from 376.36 lakh in 2009 R1 to 349.04 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Readership of weekly magazines, once almost at par with monthly magazines, has lost 24.86 lakh readers over two years – a decline of 15 percent from an AIR of 170.82 lakh in 2009 R1 to an AIR of 145.96 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Monthly magazines still maintain the lion’s share with an AIR of 171.95 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Genre-wise Readership trend:
Genre-wise, general interest magazines are the highest contributor to overall dip in absolute readership. Meanwhile, special interest magazines have contributed the highest share to overall magazine readership.
General interest magazines have registered an AIR of 199.88 lakh in 2011 Q2, a decline of 15 per cent over an AIR of 235.60 lakh in 2009 R1. Special interest magazines, registering an AIR of 246.21 lakh in 2011 Q2, have also suffered a decline of 6 per cent over an AIR of 263.29 lakh in 2009 R1.
Women’s magazines have also witnessed a downfall with an AIR of 134.71 lakh in 2011 Q2, down 11 pe rcent over an AIR of 151.59 lakh in 2009 R1.
However, some publishers disagree with the current IRS results for magazines. Anath Nath, Director, Delhi Press Group said that most of their magazines have either increased or remained stable.
He said, “We haven’t seen any major rise or fall in magazines. General interest magazines have a growth of five to ten percent while women’s magazines have remained more or less stable over the year”
Even though business magazines show a low readership base, the genre gained a readership of 19 per cent over two years – from an AIR of 10.06 lakh in 2009 R1 to an AIR of 11.95 lakh in 2011 Q2.
Sanjoy Chakraborty opined that there is a demand for business news in the market. Hence, the platforms for this segment are also growing. He added, “Business news segment is growing whether it is digital, online, TV or mobile.”
Deepak Netram, Vice President, Lodestar Universal has a different take on business magazines. According to him, business magazines have gained popularity because of the quality and deep insight that they offer along with the proliferation of international titles.
He mentioned, “The reason could also be an overall enhancement in quality for the genre in order to become competitive fueled by the entry of some of the leading international titles making an entry into our market.”