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Indian Readership Survey – An analysis by RK Swamy Media Group

23-March-2011
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Indian Readership Survey – An analysis by RK Swamy Media Group

Indian Readership Survey released its Q4 data of 2010 a few days back. The fieldwork for this round (IRS’10 Q4) was from October 2009 to October 2010. It has a sample size of 2.41 lakh individuals (12 years+), out of which 1.62 lakh are from urban and 0.79 lakh from rural areas, residing in 1,410 towns, 3,360 villages. The survey includes 451 publications in 13 languages, 200 editions, 317 TV channels and 60 radio channels. Estimated individuals are 88.1 crore, while estimated households are 23.4 crore.

Besides the usual debate on the methodology of measuring readership of dailies or magazines or TR/AIR argument, there are some other interesting areas to focus on.

The estimated individuals have increased from 87.62 crore in IRS’10 Q3 to 88.1 crore in IRS’10 Q4. This has been derived on the basis of decennial growth rate as reflected in the Census data.

Overall media reach through conventional media in India is still hovering around 64.7 per cent (64.4 per cent in Q3 & 64 per cent in Q2). In spite of all the technological advances, even today, two out of every five Indians are not reachable by any conventional media. TV reach is the highest. TV ownership has increased from 49.3 per cent in Q1’10 to 52.4 per cent in Q4’10, but interestingly, TV reach has not kept pace with it. This is a sign of the growing economy. It is also indicating the gradual increase of nuclear families requiring more TV sets leading relatively to a lesser increase in TV reach (at least once a week). The viewership marginally fell during late evening prime time (7–11 pm), while slightly increased during early evening prime time (4-7 pm).

C&S household numbers have jumped QoQ from 8.26 crore in Q1’10 to 9.76 crore in Q4’10, that is, 18 per cent growth in just 12 months. The growth is mainly coming from rural India. While 23.3 per cent of rural HH had C&S in Q1’10, it is now 29.2 per cent in Q4’10. In absolute numbers, C&S Household number in rural India increased by 1 crore in last 12 months, which is more than double than that of urban India. It is now evident that with the declining Non C&S households, Doordarshan is getting marginalised. It is DTH which is driving the growth of television today.

If we consider Total Readership, then Press reach is 38.9 per cent. The average time spent (in a working day) for reading newspaper or periodicals remains same, that is, 31 minutes for last 3 quarters. But the average time spend listening to radio (at least once a week) has slightly increased in Q4, it is now 80 minutes against 77 minutes in last two quarters (in a working day). The place of listening to radio is changing. It is getting skewed towards the work place and on travel. This round of IRS has also come up with data of possible devices used to listening to radio. It clearly shows that after radio/ music system it is the mobile phone which is used most to listen to radio.

Unlike Press & Radio, Internet is growing rapidly. The reach of Internet has grown by 27 per cent from Q1 to Q4. Out of 2.43 crore users of Internet, 1.85 crore use it regularly (at least once in a week). Regular usage is very high allowing quick reach build up. Access to Internet is still highest from the cyber cafés, but now it is increasing rapidly in mobiles. (Refer table below)

Although Internet penetration is very low in rural India compared to that of urban, it is growing. In absolute numbers, rural India added about 16 lakh Internet users in Q4’10 over Q1’10.

Let’s have a closer look at readership figures:

Dainik Jagran managed to remain at No. 1 for the last couple of rounds. The vernacular dailies are dominating the top 10 list of dailies, except The Times of India, which is the only English daily to make a dent in the top 10 list of dailies. Rajasthan Patrika has come up one position, replacing Daily Thanthi, which was No. 8 in Q3 and Rajasthan Patrika was No. 9. Rest of the dailies has managed to keep its position. Maximum growth has come for Hindustan (6 per cent), followed by Dainik Bhaskar (4 per cent) & The Times of India (2 per cent). Lokmat, Rajasthan Patrika, Daily Thanthi & Mathrubhumi lost their readership over Q3. The loss is highest for Daily Thanthi (3 per cent). In absolute numbers, Hindustan and Dainik Bhaskar added 6 lakh and 5 lakh readers, respectively. In fact, in Total Readership, Hindustan swapped its position with Dainik Bhaskar and became No. 2 with a readership of 3.51 crore against 3.39 crore of Dainik Bhaskar.

The scenario for magazines is a bit different. Pratiyogita Darpan replaced Saras Salil in AIR, while Saras Salil is the highest read magazine in TR data. Malayala Manorama (weekly) has shown the highest growth over Q3 (9 per cent). Only three magazines have gained/ retained readership – Malayala Manorama (9 per cent), Pratiyogita Darpan (3 per cent), Vanitha (Mal) (0 per cent).

If we look at the top four metros, it is The Times of India which is present in the list of top 5 dailies of all the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai). In Delhi+NCR, Hindustan Times has left behind The Times of India, though both added 51,000 and 32,000 readers, respectively. But in the financial capital of India, The Times of India has kept its No. 1 position. Gujarat Samachar has replaced Mumbai Mirror and become the third highest read daily in Mumbai. This indicates that after English and Marathi, Gujarati language controls Mumbai market. In Kolkata and Chennai, the vernacular dailies are most preferred to English dailies. Ananda Bazar Patrika and Daily Thanthi are the distant No. 1 in Kolkata and Chennai, respectively. But except Dinakaran, all top dailies in Chennai lost their readership. However, in Kolkata, except Ananda Bazar Patrika all other dailies gained readership.

The sole readership of vernacular dailies is higher than that of English dailies, which translates to the fact that a reader who reads an English daily is more likely to go for a vernacular daily as his second choice, while a reader who reads a vernacular daily has lesser affinity towards an English daily as his second choice.

Coming to business dailies in India, The Economic Times is the highest read English daily with a readership of 7.97 lakh. Although Mint is the distant No. 2 (1.99 lakh readers), it added 20,000 new readers in this Quarter. Business Standard (Hindi) grew the most (19 per cent) in Q4 and its readership rose to 68,000.

The English daily readership (AED) is growing in Hindi speaking market. In Q3’10, AED readership in Uttar Pradesh was 4.3 per cent of total AED readership, which has become 4.5 per cent in Q4’10. Although percentage wise the number looks small, but in absolute numbers it has increased by 50,000 readers. In fact, two other language dominated markets, Bihar and West Bengal added 37,000 and 31,000 more readers in AED readership, respectively.

To sum it up, still about 35 per cent of India is not reached by conventional mass media.

TV is driving reach and it continues to grow. Non C&S TV HHs are declining (22.4 per cent in Q3 to 20.1 per cent in Q4) and C&S TV HHs are growing rapidly QoQ (77.6 per cent in Q3 to 79.9 per cent in Q4), even in rural India.

It’s The Times of India which is present in the top 5 dailies’ list of all four metros (in AIR). Sole readership of vernacular dailies is very high compared to that of English dailies.

The average time spent listening to radio (at least once a week) has increased in Q4. It is now 80 minutes against 77 minutes in the last two quarters (in a working day). The place of listening is getting skewed towards the work place and on travel. After radio/ music system it is the mobile phone which is being used more often to listen to radio.

Internet is growing rapidly. Regular usage is very high, allowing quick reach build up. Access to Internet is still highest from the cyber cafés, but now it is increasing rapidly in mobiles.

[Srabantika Basak (Neogi) is Media Manager at RK Swamy Media Group.]

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