With the recent restructuring at the India Today Group (ITG) and formation of Special Business Unit (SBU) to focus on Indian language publications, speculations are that ITG could soon foray into language dailies or periodicals genre. Given, that in the last few years the regional space has become cluttered, is there scope for big media groups such as ITG in regional markets? exchange4media tried to seek answers from the media planners and buyers over the kind of business ITG can seize in this market.
In recent days, the tier2 and tier3 consumers in the regional markets have managed to catch attention of the publishers. With growing literacy rate and increasing spending power of these consumers, market is constantly expanding for newspaper industry. Although, big share of ad-pie is already seized by the well established newspaper players in these smaller markets, yet the brand name and product differentiation can certainly hook readers and advertisers towards ITG’s regional ventures.
Media planners believed that with the expanding regional markets in India, for any media group, ‘going regional’ is a natural way forward. Mohit Joshi, Executive Director-North, MPG, said, “Though the regional space might have got cluttered, readership has shown marginal improvements which indicates that there is still a new reader available there.”
Joshi further stated, “While the metros have high media fragmentation and clutter, there are many pockets and niches in the regional domains of this country where reach of a solo media is still quite high and these are the areas of opportunities.”
When asked whether ITG will be able to survive given that the regional markets are already dominated by the big newspaper group, who have captured a massive -pie, Surbhi C Murthy, GM, Allied Media, said, “Such a big group with immense expertise in media domain, huge resources, advanced technology, good understanding of news can definitely give a good print product, which is bound to catch attention. This venture is surely going to benefit readers as well as marketers.
On the other hand Janardan Pandey, Associate Vice President, Mudra Max Media, believed that anyone who can cater to young and aspiring Hindi population will do a great business in regional markets. He said, “The market is cluttered at the bottom and not at the top. If ITG can make it to the top line, it will turn out to be a good venture.” He further added, “Regional market is a vast, with burgeoning middle class having ever increasing disposable income.”
ITG group’s weekly magazine India Today, apart from English, is already present in four languages including Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. The Gujrati edition of the magazine, has been defunct can soon be revived. Apparently, the group is set to launch Hindi and Malayalam dailies too.
In Delhi market, ITG has already a compact English daily, Mail Today. When asked whether ITG should experiment with the language dailies space too, Murthy said, “The group has not done much in dailies domain apart from the compact Mail Today, which is fighting with Times of India and Hindustan Times in the market. Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh markets with growing literacy rate can be on the radar of the group. Also, ‘metronisation’ of local market will give advantage to group. However, how the group will differentiate itself remain to be seen.”
Meanwhile, when asked which market ITG should foray into, Joshi of MPG said that it is a decision that should be driven more from a content perspective rather than a media perspective.
However, Murthy of Allied Media advocated that in regional magazines domain, the group could experiment with the Kannada, Bengali and Marathi languages. “Some of the media ventures in these markets are doing phenomenally good,” she added.
While speculations are still on, Pandey of Mudra Max Media concluded, “It is for sure that well managed regional language publication will continue to excel in terms of readership and circulation.”