NRS 2005: Changing readers allow print growth alongwith other media, magazines suffer
The 2005 round for National Readership Survey Council (NRSC) is an important one, considering it is NRS in its new avatar. The NRS committee has explained various steps it took in the past year to ensure that the survey is not only a robust one but also accurate and a more recent one. The key findings of the survey have also elaborated more on the changes in the media scene.
Sam Balsara, Chairman, NRS Technical Committee, said that to ensure robustness and accuracy of data, NRS has worked with only one agency now, AC Nielsen, unlike the earlier format that had multiple agencies. In addition to that, Ernst & Young was roped in as an external audit to validate the processes.
AC Nielsen’s Partha Rakshit said, “We have attained a total sample size of 2,61,212 households. Being the largest survey of the country brings with it a great responsibility and we want to ensure that the data is completely authentic.”
He pointed out that another aspect of the data is the fact that calling itself NRS 2005 means data of 2005 and not 2004. Rakshit said, “The period of the survey is from December 2004 to March 2005. It is as recent as it gets.”
A point to note here is that the technical committee has decided to exclude Malayalam publications from this first set of release. Rakshit explained more on the reasons, “The committee felt that the trends that the Malayalam publications threw were not in conformance with what the other languages did. Hence, it has been held back for looking into it some more.”
N D Badrinath, Director, Client Service, AC Nielsen ORG MARG Pvt Ltd, explained more on the broad findings of NRS 2005, which he calls as the “changing story of the media scene.”
The demographic changes and the overall increase in the Indian literacy rate, which according to NRS is at 66 per cent has allowed print to survive and grow despite the growth in other media. Establishing that there is an upper SEC shift and a shift towards the female gender in rural areas, NRS survey also pointed that household sizes were decreasing, which implied a re-look at the reader-per-copy concept.
Urban India, according to the survey findings is getting younger at the expense of rural India and higher life expectancy in urban India has resulted in higher proportion of 45 years and above.
The key points that the survey brings about in regards to press ‘reach’ are that urban India is under pressure in this arena. Those reading are spending more time in reading. Magazines have a reason to worry as their reach is falling significantly. “Newspapers are serving the purpose of magazines with all the supplements, so magazines need to think out of the box to combat this,” said Rakshit.
Badrinath further added that niche magazines are proliferating and India is on the roads of the more evolved western markets, “But the potential market of those able to read largely untapped.”
Speaking more on the other media, Badrinath pointed out that satellite TV is changing frames of reference for content delivery. “The spurt in C&S homes with increase in colour TV has allowed ‘niche’ satellite channels to challenge the established order. Time spent watching TV is reaching saturation and regional TV channels are moving rapidly in key potential markets.”
Moving up from 40 million homes in 2002, C&S penetration has increased by 53 per cent to 61 million homes in 2005 and C&S subscription has penetrated 56 per cent of all TV homes in India. Television, on the whole, reaches 108 million homes, which means it crosses the 50 per cent mark of all homes for the first time, thus reflecting a growth of 32 per cent since 2002.
Badrinath also explained that in regards to FM pushing radio reach in urban India, radio is losing ground in rural India and the cinema decline continues, where Internet and mobile phones are still nascent but growing as media.
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