In some areas, print is losing its relevance: Shreyams Kumar

With the youth's growing affinity towards social media, print is losing its sheen as publishers focus on ways to engage the future generation, says the Director, Mathrubhumi

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Sep 11, 2013 8:13 AM
In some areas, print is losing its relevance: Shreyams Kumar

Mathrubhumi group, which entered the television space quite late as compared to its competitors, claims to have become the No. 3 player. The group already has a strong presence in print media with its Malayalam language publications. Now, the group is turning its focus on digital media and has lined up some aggressive plans for consolidating its verticals.

In conversation with exchange4media, Shreyams Kumar, Director, Mathrubhumi, who is responsible for the print and electronic segments, speaks at length about the key trends in print media in 2013, the 10+2 ad cap issue, Mathrubhumi group’s digital plans and more...

What are the key trends in print media in 2013?
Print as a medium is still growing in India. For example, we have been growing consistently in every ABC for so many years now. Growth is happening in terms of both numbers and ad spends. Newspapers are here to stay, but we are definitely looking at addressing and fulfilling the requirements and needs of the current generation and the coming generation. Whatever strength that we have gained in the past is still there, but we are looking for future growth. So, our focus is on how to engage the future generation, irrespective of the language.

I think, in some areas print as a medium is losing its relevance. Social media is gaining as the new generation is more into social media rather than the print medium. Moreover, national players are also eying the regional markets and a lot of shift is happening towards these markets. Moreover, if you look at the pattern of spends, it has changed in the last couple of years.

What are your views on the 10+2 ad cap issue, which has been a cause for worry for the broadcasting industry?
From a viewer’s point of view, we have to be reasonable in terms of giving them enough content to watch. But then there is no differentiation between a pay channel and a free to air channel and also between GEC and news channel.  A news channel does not make as much money as a general entertainment channel. For news, the capex is on the higher side, whereas for GECs the distribution cost is very high. So, it is fine that TRAI is trying to bring in this ad regulation, provided it regulates the distribution expenditure, which is not happening at present. The digitisation process is going slow and I think they have to wait until it happens.

Please tell us about the Mathrubhumi group and its journey so far.
We have a very strong presence in all verticals, starting from print to magazines, television, radio and digital. We are aiming for greater synergies across various verticals. We are a multi-media house now. A lot of our focus is on digital now. The journey has been exciting.

Mathrubhumi has been present in the market since 1922, but why has the group entered the television space so late? How have you differentiated your content?
Nothing is too late. We had our own reasons for not venturing into television. It is not when we start, but where we stand in the market after starting. We are No. 3 in the news space out of seven or eight channels in the market. We already have a market share close to 18-20 per cent on some weeks, so we have stabilised here. Of course, in terms of distribution we have to reach out to more people. We are currently on analogue, digital and DTH. It’s only a matter of time before we overtake our competition and I am very confident about that.

We want to do a lot of differentiation in our content, but at the end of the day nothing much is happening in terms of news. But we have special daily bulletins for women, youth, and agriculture. This is where we are different as none of the other channels has such bulletins, besides we also get good ratings for these shows.

What are the new campaigns that we can expect from the group in the near future? What are your initiatives on the digital and mobile front?
Our women’s magazine, which was a fortnightly, will turn a monthly from November onwards and we will be coming out with new campaigns for it.

On the digital front we are gearing up. We have launched a web channel and have been getting positive feedbacks. The focus is going to be on digital because this is one space that we really need to occupy. We are consolidating the vertical. In the coming months you can expect a lot more initiatives and services being launched in the digital medium from the group. We will be present across all platforms irrespective of what the device is, be it Android or iPhones.

Recently, we have moved to Kochi, the ‘the state of the art’ city.

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