Is the HT Mini experiment fizzing out?

Ever since it went pay, HT Mini has seen a decline. Experts wonder whether the move from the free format to cover price has backfired

e4m by Abid Hasan
Updated: Dec 11, 2012 7:44 PM
Is the HT Mini experiment fizzing out?

HT Mini, the mini tabloid from the HT Media stable, has successfully tapped the hitherto vacant slot of Delhi Metro commuter base since its launch January 14, 2012. With a size smaller than A4 size, the HT Mini is targeted at people on the move, mostly the over 1.8 million strong Delhi Metro commuters.

The paper has got positive response from the readers, who find the small size format and crisp content easy to consume while on the move. Till October 2012, the paper was distributed free of cost. But from November onwards, the paper is available for a cover price of Re 1. Shantanu Bhanja, Vice President, Hindustan Times, explained, “The idea behind making HT Mini available for a cover price is to ensure incentives to the vendors, who stand and sell the paper, otherwise Re 1 is not enough to cover the cost of printing. This move is also meant to keep a tab on the total number of copies sold.”

However, ever since the introduction of cover price, copies of HT Mini have been seen piling up in the stands placed at Delhi Metro stations. Not many commuters are seen buying the copies. When asked about this, Bhanja maintained that there has been no letdown in the sale of copies of HT Mini.

According to Surbhi C Murthy, VP, Allied Media, putting a cover price will affect sales. She stressed, “Free is the magical word that grabs the readers’ attention. As long as the copy is available for free, people will pick it up, but the moment you put a cover price to it, people would prefer to carry their regular newspaper copy from home to read during commute.”

In contrast, Himanka Das, Senior Vice President - West, Carat Media, feels that there should be a cover price as it brings in an element of credibility, since readers actually buy their copy and read it. “We people from this part of the continent by nature tend to enjoy free stuff, but that’s not healthy business – either for the publisher or to get a targeted readership profile for the marketer.”

Meanwhile, HT Media is planning to launch HT Mini in other cities.

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