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NRS 2006: Of new media and emerging modes of communication

30-August-2006
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NRS 2006: Of new media and emerging modes of communication

NRS 2006 has paid close attention to more than just the traditional mediums and in the process has unearthed encouraging news for players of emerging mediums like digital. The fieldwork of the study was completed between February and May 2006 and shows that even as the Internet is finding its footing, mobile phones as a medium has already taken off in India.

NRS 2006 shows that Internet reach now exceeds 12 million. However, N D Badrinath, Director, Client Servicing, ACNielsen, observed, “Internet as a medium seems to have paused on its growth trajectory. From 7.2 million users who logged in every week last year, the number has grown only to 9.4 million. As proportions, these represent 0.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent of India’s 12 years plus population. However, urban India has shown faster growth in Internet reach, from 2.3 per cent to 3.4 per cent.”

The number of individuals who accessed the Internet in the last three months increased marginally from 10.8 million to 13.0 million in 2006. While 10.8 million of these are in urban India, nearly 1.8 million Internet users reside in rural India. The growth seems slower than expected – it must be pointed out that the growth of the number of Internet users in urban India is 35 per cent over last year, while in rural India this seems to have stagnated.

As the reach of Internet increases, office is no longer the main place of access. As many as 34 per cent of users now surf from cyber cafes and 30 per cent from home. About 20 per cent of Internet users access it from the work-place.

The medium to watch out for, as per NRS 2006 are mobile phones. NRS 2006 shows that the reach of this medium – as measured by the proportion of the population accessing value-added-features (VAS) at least once a week – has grown from 1.1 per cent last year to 2.7 per cent, translating to nearly 22 million individuals.

Among the fast growing tribe of mobile phone owners, 38 per cent access value added features like downloads, accessing news and cricket scores, SMS, etc., vis-à-vis 13.9 per cent last year. The figure is higher at 44 per cent in the metros. This means that as an advertising medium, it reaches more than 22 million consumers. As can be expected, the usage levels are much higher among young urban audiences and needs to be closely watched by not only the press but also the TV industry in future.

“With the impending launch of 3G next year, the quality of content that will be delivered to mobile subscribers will make it a force to reckon with,” said Badrinath. He further said, “Consumers seek content that is relevant. For the moment they will ‘pull’ it from any option that delivers in the depth they need at the time they want in the style they like.”

Data on some of the other media covered shows that radio has shown considerable resurgence. Its reach has increased from 23 per cent to 27 per cent of the population listening to any station in the average week, almost equating the number of readers.

FM Radio has driven this explosion in reach – from 76 million individuals listening in an average week in 2005 to as many as 119 million individuals in 2006 – a 55 per cent increase over last year.

FM Radio and mobile phones are the fastest growing mediums, according to NRS 2006 – growth coming from both rural and urban India.

Cinema has, on the surface, declined from 51 million individuals going regularly to the movies (at least once a month) to 39 million. As is known, this has been the trend for sometime now. However, the cinema audience seems to have been reversed in urban India – from 23 million regular theatre-goers last year, NRS 2006 estimates now there are 25 million. As a proportion this means a marginal increase from 9.6 per cent to 10 per cent.

Giving an overall conclusion, Badrinath said, “Press medium must watch emerging media closely. It is also worth remembering that socio-culturally speaking India is like a couple of dozen countries with a total of 16 official languages and wide disparities in living standards – the complexity of the Indian media market would rival those of Europe if taken as a whole.”

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