‘Maalai Malar’, a 27-year old publication, is looking to consolidate its strong presence in the Tamil evening paper segment, and also grow beyond the print medium.
‘Maalai Malar’ is the largest read evening daily across the country, going by IRS (R2, 2005). Its 14-lakh strong readership is explained by a net paid sales of around 125,000 copies across the state, 40 per cent of which are estimated to be in Chennai. Competition from the Sun group’s re-launched eveninger ‘Tamil Murasu’ has admittedly expanded the market for the segment.
Speaking to exchange4media, S Balasubramaniam Adityan, Executive Director, Malar Publications, said, “The market has clearly expanded now for the evening paper segment, and we are working on strategies to make use of the expanded market. We have clearly gained with the market expansion. We will perhaps look at a re-launch sometime.”
“The challenge for the segment is to get more advertisers to look at the evening paper as an option. With a huge amount of duplication of readers (of morning dailies), you get excellent recall value for a fraction of the cost,” he added.
The ambitions of the publication don’t end with the evening daily segment. ‘Maalai Malar’ is also in race for all the seven licenses (in the second round of bidding) for FM radio stations in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. With such huge strides to make, Malar Publications will also look at generating funds from outside. The allowed 20 per cent FDI would be explored for radio, shared Adityan, adding, “We will look at private placements first, and eventually an IPO.”
Having launched its news via SMS facility successfully, the publication is keen to build on it further. In partnership with Sify (the technical partner), ‘Maalai Malar’ as a content provider is making use of its base of around 300 reporters (including part timers) across the state to deliver district-wise news besides the main headlines.
“We have launched news, including district-wise news, and horoscopes, and very soon we will be launching a cinema segment, where users can search by cinema hall or by the name of the film. We are also keen to provide options to pay through the mobile when that’s possible here, to provide end-to-end service,” Adityan explained.
The response to the service has been healthy so far, and more significantly, there has been consistency since day one when 150,000 SMSes were received, according to the publication. A very respectable number, given that the short messages are in English.
And in Tamil Nadu, with cinema becoming a part of the SMS offerings, that number is bound to go up.