Readers of ‘India Today’ got a pleasant surprise last week when they found a copy of ‘Today’ bundled with their favourite weekly. Makes sense as it instantly increases the reach of the afternoon newspaper and encourages more sampling.
Speaking about the strategy behind this exercise, Ashish Bagga, Executive Director, India Today Group, said, “Bundling Today with India Today will scale up Today’s exposure in Delhi. It’s a win-win strategy for not just the readers of India Today, but also for advertisers. For advertisers who find the rates of Delhi’s two leading newspapers – Times of India and Hindustan Times – too steep, can now have an alternative in Today.”
In fact, the group hopes to make Today a close competitor to Times of India and Hindustan Times. And it all figures as Today, which has a weekday circulation of 60,000 copies, will now be reaching over 160,000 copies during the weekends along with India Today.
But won’t this exercise hit newsstand sales of Today on weekends? Bagga replied, “We have foreseen this problem and have taken appropriate pre-emptive measures. It is not going to affect weekend sales much as of the 60,000 copies, 50,000 are subscription based. And of the remaining 10,000 nearly 2,500 copies go to various airlines.”
Elaborating on the editorial content of Today, Bagga said that while on weekdays the content would be more newsy, on weekends, when the paper has a longer shelf life, the content would be more ‘tabloidish’ and lifestyle oriented. He feels this would see a new phase of tabloid journalism.
A new editorial team is in place to give a fresh look to the paper, which is headed by Ravi Shankar, who took over as Editor about a month back.
Commenting on why the English language afternoon publication market in Delhi had not seen any new entrant since Today’s launch in 2002, Bagga said that Delhi was a linear market. Moreover, there was no proper distribution system in the National Capital for an afternoon paper. Apart from this, the commuting pattern in Delhi also was not conducive to such a paper. There is more personal transport in Delhi, unlike Mumbai, which has a lock-in commuter base on local trains.
But the advent of the Metro in Delhi may change the commuting pattern of Delhiites. And this, said Bagga, was a good sign for developing the readership of afternoon papers. There is potential for expansion.
Though this bundling exercise is limited to Delhi for now, Bagga said there were plans to expand this exercise to other cities in the future.
So, readers in Delhi can look forward to their weekly dose of tabloid reading (not necessarily the Page 3 variety) every Friday with Today as this combo-feature is going to continue.