The Times of India Group is venturing into the free neighborhood newspaper segment with ‘Times Neighborhood’, a weekly to be launched in Anna Nagar, Chennai. The stand-alone publication will spread to other areas in Chennai soon, after gauging the response to its Anna Nagar offering. The 12-page gloss-covered ‘local’ will hit 40,000 residents of Anna Nagar on Saturday.
When contacted, Ninan Thariyan, GM - Response, TOI, Chennai, said, “We did not have a solution for one of the largest retail markets in the country. This will not be in competition to any existing publication, but will be complementary. It will be a stand-alone product and is an opportunity for us to address more advertisers, who in turn, need to address residents of the neighborhoods they operate in. There is no carrier brand, but the product is good to stand by itself.”
The Economic Times had a supplement called ‘Madras Plus’, which was also a focused retail vehicle for Chennai. ‘Times Neighborhood’ would be different in that it would be ‘hyper-localised’ in its content, and would attempt to stand out in the clutter of the many existing neighborhood newspapers, added Thariyan.
According to sources, though the advertising revenue from Chennai’s retail segment in print was at around Rs 100 crore per year, this was for the mainlines alone. There exist several other neighborhood publications, some of which are beginning to figure increasingly on retail advertisers’ media plans.
Some planners peg the revenues of this genre at Rs 10 crore, and others at Rs 8-16 crore. Most industry observers agree that this is increasing by the day. An established neighborhood newspaper in Anna Nagar, ‘Anna Nagar Times’, is estimated to have a circulation of over 50,000 copies.
“We will gauge the response to the Anna Nagar launch. So far, advertisers have received it very positively, without even seeing the paper. We are looking at more than one area in Chennai, and we are looking at that within a month,” said Thariyan.
It is learnt that Classifieds, a main draw for local neighborhood papers, will be part of Times Neighborhood Anna Nagar in the next two to three weeks. A separate team is in charge of content.
The spokesperson refused comment on The Times of India’s Chennai edition. Sources indicated that the Chennai edition launch, which had been delayed by years, was still some time away. Until then, ‘Times Neighborhood’ will address localities within Chennai with the tagline - ‘Make the most of where you live’.