The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) has given some encouraging growth stories to the Indian newspaper industry in 2010. One publication that would look back at 2010 as one of its strongest readership years is Hindustan. Boasting of a steady quarter on quarter (QOQ) growth in its average issue readership (AIR), Hindustan has been a strong number three player in the top dailies in India. In the IRS Q2, the publication raised quite a stir, when it toppled the number two player Dainik Bhaskar in the total readership (TR) numbers to be the second largest publication in India. For most print media observers, even though TR is not the advertiser’s currency for newspapers, making a mark like this, was no small feat.
What Numbers Say
In IRS Q1 2010, Hindustan had an AIR figure of 99.14 Lac. This grew to 101.43 Lac in Q2 and much credit was given to Hindustan’s expansion into newer markets of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The AIR number grew to 108.39 Lac in Q3 and in Q4, Hindustan had an AIR figure of 114.52 Lac. In all, the publication has added 15 Lac readers in the last nine months, making it the fastest growing newspaper in the country in terms of absolute reader gains in AIR.
Hindustan has seen consistent growth in the last seven rounds of IRS and this has allowed the daily to move from the number four position to number three position in AIR and number two position in TR. A statement from Hindustan informed that with a total readership of 3.52 crore readers, Hindustan had 12 Lac more readers than competitor Dainik Bhaskar.
Uttar Pradesh, where Hindustan has added 41 Lac readers in the last nine months, contributed to a bulk of this growth. Hindustan now has a 30 per cent share of readership in UP. In Bihar, the newspaper added 6.5 Lac readers in the last nine months and readership share in Bihar now stands at 83 per cent. In Jharkhand, Hindustan is the first and the only daily so far, to have more than 50 Lac readers.
Behind the Numbers
According to Hindustan, the growth numbers seen in the various markets today are a result of some of the steps taken over the last three years.
Amit Chopra, Publisher, HMVL, explained, “We have focussed on expanding our presence in UP and Uttarakhand. These markets, being very large and heterogeneous, have required large infrastructure investments, hyper local products and a spate of innovations towards achieving our objectives. This, combined with our dominant presence in Bihar and Jharkhand, and a commanding position in Delhi allows us to offer to advertisers massive eyeballs in the most populous Indo-Gangetic zone.”
Rajan Bhalla, Head Marketing, Strategic Businesses, HT Media Ltd, added, “Hindustan has been growing steadily across each of the last seven IRS rounds. Its strong growth momentum in readership is on account of a strong editorial connect with the readers and a brand that is sharply focussed on enabling progress to its readers, both at an individual and at a societal level. After all ‘tarakki’ is what drives our readers. And us at Hindustan.”
Media observers are of the opinion that the ‘progressive’ position of the newspaper has played its role in contributing to Hindustan’s growth. Speaking further on this approach, Shashi Shekhar, Editor in Chief, Hindustan, observed, “We engage readers with our brand by showing them the way of progress by our various initiatives. The concept of our newspaper, of leveraging the aspirations of aam aadmi of the country, has certainly worked for us. And the hyper local approach of Hindustan too, has connected well with our readers.”
Gearing for the Next Round
Hindustan is clear that there is still much to do in the road ahead. The newspaper views the entire Hindi belt as a “land of opportunities”. Hindustan’s all-colour newspaper in Bihar or the recently added Gorakhpur edition are all seen as steps that would contribute to the publication’s growth.
Shekhar said, “Being number two on TR is a great achievement for which the entire team, across sections, at Hindustan must be credited. I am very confident that in coming rounds, we will definitely be able to grab the top rank in AIR as well.”
Chopra added here, “We still have work to do but we are confident that we are not too far from where we want to be. We will continue to do what's in our control - to partner readers in their quest for progress. Rest we will leave to the readers.”
Hindustan’s growth story is yet another instance of the print medium’s growth in India.
(With inputs from Nitin Pandey)