The media industry is bullish on the new Kannada weekly Vijaya Next, recently launched by The Times Group, though there are few reservations. The paper caters to the upwardly mobile Kannadiga population. While most in the industry agree that the paper looks fresh and lively, there are mixed views as to how it will be accepted by a TG that is already exposed to so many other avenues.
Commenting on the launch, Rahul Kansal, Chief Marketing Officer, The Times of India, had said, “We felt that there was a gap in the offering of the language press, which did not meet up to the expectation of the upwardly mobile, discerning with hybrid aspiration Kannadiga population. There is a huge yearning for a change, especially among small town people to participate and know about new brands, technology, career and entertainment among others. This category comes at times just below the English reading population or even is hybrid in their taste. Vijaya Next will cater to this population in filling this gap.”
Expressing his views, Anilkumar Sathiraju, Associate Vice President & Head, South, Mudra Connext, said, “The newspaper looks young, fresh and lively. It will be a weekend newspaper in a broadsheet format with content focused on general interest, films and light reading. But we need to wait and see how many people are ready for such a thing.”
Citing some figures, he raised some pertinent questions, “Readership of Kannada news dailies shot up in 2010 Q1 over 2009 R2 (Vijaya Karnataka + Prajavani + Udayavani + Samyukta Karnataka + Kannada Prabha) from 76.2 lakh in 2009 R2 to 79.4 lakh in 2010 Q1. Taking from this, the points to ponder are will readers actually go and pick up copies of the newspaper on a weekend? If so, what is the new thing that Vijaya Next will talk about? How many of the affluent Kannadigas (who already read TOI) would want to know or read about films or actresses or international news, when they are already exposed to news in the various news channels that are there today? Given the fact that among SEC-AB individuals, the time spent during weekend press time spent is coming down (2009 R2 – up to half an hour: 51.5 per cent and 2010 Q1 – up to half an hour: 49.5 per cent), it will be important to see how this paper gets back people to reading again. While these questions are in my mind, if this weekly newspaper is able to make that difference in the mind of the reader, who’s already exposed to so many things in his/her life, then it is great news. Else, it will be just another newspaper which comes out in the weekend.”
Sounding more positive, Kishankumar Shyamalan, Investment Director, CTG, Maxus, said, “Vijaya Next is a move expected from a leader like The Times of India. A weekend read positioned at providing leisure reading for the entire family, it covers things happening around the world that affect the average Kannadiga’s life: News updates, current affairs, lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, sports, etc. In my mind, Vijaya Next will throw open a new category of reading in Kannada journalism by indulging the readers with a higher degree of involvement with a balanced mix of fun and entertainment. It has an ambitious target of reaching a 1.65 lakh circulation. Now, that’s one-third of TOI Karnataka numbers and more importantly, it has more than double the circulation of the top two magazines ‘Sudha’ and ‘Taranga’, yet comes at 50 per cent of the cost of either. I’m sure that will make any reader happy.”
He added, “With both corporate and retail advertisers looking to get the ‘more evolved’ consumer to drive value consumption, Vijaya Next will be a good differentiator in the media plan. However, a lot depends on how The Times of India packages it to make it exciting enough for relevant brands. If The Times of India can balance the quality-price equation, it can work well for all parties concerned.”