IRS 2005 R1 numbers bring good news to Marathi publications. The segment has on the whole registered a growth. Looking at numbers, right on top is Lokmat, which has grown from 78.24 lacs in IRS 2003 R2 to 82.23 lacs, showing an increase of 9.39 lacs. The number two player in the market, Sakal has also registered a strong growth of 9.22 lacs giving it a present readership figure of 5856000. What is further encouraging about this segment is that the number three and number four player too register decent growths.
Punya Nagri has grown by a whopping 10.70 lacs taking its readership to 34.04 lacs and Pudhari too has seen a growth of 2.17 lacs. Loksatta is one of the minorities that have seen a fall, coming down to a readership figure of 18.23 lacs. The other players in this segment like Saamana (from 13.38 lacs to 15.55 lacs), Maharashtra Times (from 13.51 lacs to 13.79 lacs), Mumbai Chaufer (from 9.15 lacs to 13.47 lacs) and Deshonnati (from 10.41 lacs to 12 lacs) have all seen an increase.
Apart from Loksatta Navakaal is another publication that has witnessed a dip of 70,000 taking its readership to 11.40 lacs presently. Chitralekha (Marathi) and Matribhumi are the only other two publications that too show a fall. Every other publication has found its share of the reader's attention and this is unprecedented good news for the Marathi market.
"This is primarily due to increased competition in the market," said Jwalant Swaroop, Director, Advertising, Lokmat Group of Publications, "Every player has pumped in extra efforts to drive circulation and in effect the result has been a growth in the total newspaper audience."
He said, "With the growth in literacy rate, affordability, of individuals and households, has also increased. People are looking at getting information in their language as well and this has in effect carved a niche in readership of these publications."
He said that the entry of present players in new markets, the re-launch of the brand in select markets, for instance Lokmat re-launching in Akola and Kolhapur, and the coming in of new players all have led up to the opening of the market.
He said, "Even if there are smaller players coming in, in totality the choice increases and resultantly the reach in smaller areas and the likes increase. This, in effect, plays its role in driving readership. The Akola re-launch worked well for us. Lokmat has become a cult brand now and it is evident in these numbers. The last year has been the year of correction for us. In some areas, we withdrew from price wars, in others we looked at alternative ways of growing readership and it is working."