Mid Day’s decision to reduce three daily editions to two necessarily means an experiment. The publication has positioned itself as an alternate to morning news papers. As the decision defies the very name Mid Day, a moot question that rises here is, ‘Can Mid Day shake the morning reading habits and create a dent in the readership pattern?’ We did some talking to find out.
Let’s look at Mid Day’s plan more closely. In place of the Morning, City and Late editions, the publication will now issue the ‘AM’ and ‘Mid Day’ editions. Bikash Banerjee, COO, News Media, Mid Day Multimedia informs, “The Mid Day AM edition will be available with morning newspapers. It will be the alternate morning paper, updating readers on all the news.”
Dwelling on the second edition and the content differentiation between the two, he says, “Mid Day will be available at 11 am. Unlike AM, it will continue to be what it has always been, Mumbai’s afternoon tabloid, focussed on delivering city, entertainment and sports.”
The plan is all worked out but will the plan work? “I don’t think it will create any major dent in the morning readership pattern,” remarks Pradeep Iyengar, Vice President, Carat India, “The loyalty factor in the morning per se is very high. In the old segments of readers, to change any habit is out of question.”
But what about the new emerging segments of readers? Can Mid Day initiate a change at that level? “Given the image of the paper, it is very difficult,” replies Iyengar. Mid Day is known as the city’s paper, which is crisp and chatty in its content. History too, doesn’t site many examples of a successful morning tabloid. Sandeep Tarkas, President, MPG (South Asia) echos him, saying: “The concept of a morning tabloid hasn’t worked so far in most markets. If you take the example of ‘Daily’, despite a loyal readership base, the paper was small and remained small.”
Looking at the experiment more closely, Tarkas says, “The bigger revenues are there in the morning readership. But morning readership is not a fit with the positioning that brand Mid Day has established.”
“Morning readership is serious in nature. With this new strategy, Mid Day plans to bring in the morning edition, what I would term as ‘national news in a concise capsule’ and then later the city news. From the sound of that, it seems like an idea that should click,” observes Iyengar, “but the image of Mid Day is such that it will take substantial time before it can be considered a serious morning paper.”
Iyengar feels that it is an experiment that’s worth a try. He comments, “It is never bad to try and expand horizons. Also, if Mid Day looks at a change, strategically morning is the only space that the paper can utilise.”
Another question that comes to fore at this point is how will advertisers react to this change. With the three editions in place, advertisers had an ad in all the three editions. With a reduction in the editions, don’t advertisers stand to lose on this count? “No,” replies Banerjee, “Agreed that the number of editions have gone down. But we will increase the number of prints, which necessarily means increased number of readers. So, this will make our value-for-money proposition to advertisers stronger.”
Iyengar seems to agree with a proposition, as he says, “The paper plans to hit the market with 40,000 extra copies – all free of cost to the advertiser. This might be the initial offering but presently from the advertiser's point of view, it is definitely a good proposition.” Tarkas also thinks on similar lines. “For the big advertisers, the reduction in the number of editions will not make a difference. It is more for the local advertisers that any problem will be seen,” he says.
Banerjee informs that both editions will have same number of pages. "The paper’s pricing remains the same; both editions are priced at Rs 3 from Monday to Saturday," he says.