Print vs. digital: Time to sound the alarm bells for print?

While digital has made significant inroads into print media, industry experts feel that digital’s foray is limited to certain cities & the younger reader base

e4m by Abid Hasan
Published: Apr 15, 2013 9:22 PM  | 6 min read
Print vs. digital: Time to sound the alarm bells for print?

The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2012 Q4 data didn’t have much cheer for the print publications with most dailies and magazines registering decline in Average Issue Readership (AIR). The decline comes even as competition amongst print players becomes more cutthroat.

On the other hand, Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) has reported that the total number of registered publications in India stands at 86,754 as on March 31, 2012. As many as 4,545 new publications were registered with the RNI during 2011-12. What the does the future hold for these publications? While there has been not let up in the thirst for news and information, the question arises where are the readers going for their daily quota of news. Even as print shows decline, there are growing numbers for digital media. So, is digital finally beginning to eat into the print pie in a significant way?

Industry experts and various print players have differing opinion regarding digital’s foray. While most admit to digital making significant inroads into print media, there are some industry experts who believe digital’s foray is limited to certain age groups and some cities.

‘In the long run, technically digital will eat into print’s share’
Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia remarked, “So much information is available today on digital and people turn to digital to get frequent updates, thus there is a huge opportunity to revalidate what you do. Digital is an inevitable reference point, which gives a lot of power in decision making in everyday life today.”

When asked whether digital is eating into print’s pie in recent times, he replied, “Consumers and consumer behaviour is changing, hence, I think it is inevitable that people will shift from print to digital in the long run and technically digital will eat into print’s share.”

According to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in January this year on digital penetration, there are 951 million mobile users with 448 mobile data subscribers and 137 million internet users. Rural internet has grown by seven times in the last two years and will make India among one of the top three digital markets in the world. By 2020, riding on a government investment of $4 billion (roughly 10 billion on PPP terms), the number of internet users is expected to be 600 million; mobile will possibly penetrate 100 per cent of rural India, creating the largest free economy digital market in the world.

‘It will eat into the print pie, but not happening right now’
Meanwhile, on the other hand, Gyan Gupta, CEO, Dainik Bhaskar Digital feels that print and digital mediums have different roles to play. According to him, while one is habit and other fulfills the need to be updated throughout the day, and the expectation from these two platforms are totally different.

“There is not enough data on whether digital is eating into print’s pie because the readers I have interacted with have said that they look at both the mediums,” Gupta added.

When asked whether digital consumption is limited to certain age groups and cities, he replied, “Right now the audience is too small and it will be inconclusive to draw a conclusion out of that. We need a larger mass to draw a conclusion.”

Gupta feels that digital will eventually eat into print’s pie, but it is a gradual progression.

‘Print is not getting new readers’
Durga Raghunath, VP, Product and Executive News, Firstpost said that readers are going to mobile and websites. “The personal relationship that readers have had with newspapers has been replaced by smartphones and social media. It’s a battle for attention minutes as much as it is for media,” she added.

She further said that print is not getting new readers and that mobile and social are becoming substitutes for print news.

Raghunath suggested that in the scenario of declining readership, print players have to find a new grammar for their relationship with media consumers. They have to effectively translate their values and strengths to mean something online, rather than purely put their print pieces on the web.

As per the IAMAI survey, internet usage in India is still driven by the youth. Smaller towns have witnessed 41 per cent growth with active internet users coming from less than 5 lakh towns.There are 17 million internet users accessing the internet daily. Out of these, a third access the internet several times a day.

‘It’s eating into print’s pie among certain TG and in some cities’
According to Surbhy C Murthy, Associate VP, Allied Media, “Overall digital is not eating into print’s pie, but it is significant foray when it comes to a certain segment of the age group and certain cities. The reason for this is the new age group that is hooked to the internet and is tech savvy.”

On similar lines, Shekhar Avasthi, Media Director, Havas Media, India while agreeing that digital is eating into print’s pie, said that it is limited to certain cities and the younger readers.

Murthy also pointed out that digital is giving freedom to the reader to choose from various options available. In order to woo the readers, print players need to enhance the digital platform. One such example is that of the TOI Alive app, she said, adding, “TOI has bridged the gap with its Alive app and taken it into next level, bringing back the young readers to read newspaper.”

‘There is no competition as both platforms are different’
Though The Hindu lost 94,000 readers as per the latest IRS results, Suresh Srinivasan, Vice President (Advt), The Hindu feels that digital and print platforms are different and there is no competition. The same story gets reported in different ways in print and online, thereby offering ‘different news’ and there is no duplication, he maintained.

He also felt that digital consumption is popular among the tech savvy and gadget driven youth and where connectivity is better, which are mostly the metros and Tier I cities.

Media experts believe that the youth TG is the key driver for digital editions. Thus, the potential is great as more than 50 per cent of India’s population is below the age of 25 years, while more than 65 per cent of the population is below the age of 35 years. It is expected that by 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years.

While this year internet penetration is growing at the rate of more than 14 per cent, the rural areas are surpassing the urban areas when it comes to internet penetration. As per the IAMAI, towns with population less than 2 lakh account for more than 21.7 million internet users, while small metros have about 15.1 million internet users.

Industry experts see the youth as a game changer in the foray of digital media. It will be interesting to see how print players counter the growing onslaught of digital and save their interests and market share.

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Brands are investing in print & magazines in large numbers: Suresh Balakrishna, The Hindu

Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer, The Hindu, spoke to us about print circulation making a comeback, the group expanding in the digital market and more

By Tanya Dwivedi | Jun 7, 2023 9:09 AM   |   3 min read

The Hindu

Frontline, the iconic fortnightly news magazine by The Hindu Group, recently unveiled its new avatar with bolder fonts, and a fresh design palette.
On the sidelines of the launch, e4m spoke to Suresh Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer, The Hindu, to gather insights on the print industry’s overall readership and the advertisers’ sentiment for the medium.


Has the print industry witnessed an increase in readership in recent years?

The industry has already witnessed an increase in readership in recent years, and the best thing about print and digital is that both mediums are doing well in the market.

How is The Hindu faring in terms of ad revenues?

We cannot share revenues for Q4 now but we can talk about the data for the last few years. We finished at 98% in 2019. I believe that makes us the best-performing English newspaper group in the country. We have had a fabulous journey so far. The newspaper has also witnessed a significant growth in the last couple of years. The months of April and May have been a great start to the year.

How do you differentiate print from other forms of media?

The print media is making a comeback after the pandemic. The weight has been significantly bounced back, and this is a big development for the print media industry. This shows that people still want to continue newspaper reading and continue to subscribe to newspapers. Moreover, we have also achieved the pre-pandemic newspaper circulation target.

How has Hindu been expanding its digital market in recent years?

We already have an established market across the country. Our website and app are behind the paywall. The good thing is that people in large numbers are going for subscribtions to read the newspaper. The Hindu has done a great job in maintaining the credibility of its content and gaining readers’ trust in the market. Moreover, we are planning to expand in the print and magazine business in the coming years.

What are your thoughts on the new avatar of Frontline Magazine?

The magazine is a prestigious product of The Hindu Group. The refreshed look will offer a lot more to our readers, both visually and in terms of content. The intent is to seamlessly merge tradition and innovation to offer a power-packed reading experience and it’s safe to say we have achieved it.

Are we going to see more brands investing in print and magazines in the coming years?

Yes, brands are investing in print and magazines in large numbers. Digital brands are our biggest categories. Moreover, ed-tech and fintech companies are investing in the print media. Technology has provided a great evolution for the print and magazine business in India.

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BW Businessworld launches latest issue on EV sector movement

Bonus Edition to highlight India's Super CFOs and Modi regime

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 5:18 PM   |   3 min read

bw business

The recent issue of BW Businessworld,which will be released on June 17, 2023, addresses the adoption of EVs in the country and the effects of subsidy cuts as well as the sluggish growth in EV infrastructure threatening to further impede the progress. 

The issue sheds light on the EV industry's positive side, with over a million EVs sold in the country in the previous fiscal year, as well as the challenges and roadblocks the industry faced in terms of growth on electric two-wheeler adoption following subsidy cuts and its infrastructure. To demonstrate the significance of the situation, the BW Businessworld team reached out to auto industry professionals for their perspectives on the current state of the EV business and the ratio for which speedy investment in charging infrastructure is required.

The Big Bet On SUVs & EVs

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, R.C. Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti, underlines the company's supremacy in the SUV and EV segments of the markets. Bhargava goes on to discuss how they are aiming for a 25% market share this year with SUVs and have a clear intention to create a significant splash in the EV category between 2024-25. He also disclosed that Maruti is expecting to launch six EVs in a span of six years, debuting a new model every year starting from 2024. Adding to it, he also contends that the expansion of Indian car industry is likely to grow as to become the third largest in the world in a span of three years and Maruti will be playing a key part to make this happen.

The latest edition also has a comprehensive interaction with Rajesh Jejurikar, Executive Director & CEO, Auto and Farm Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra. He highlighted Mahindra & Mahindra's projected expansion in the EV area as well as SUV electric portfolios over the next two years. It involves the corporation bringing in British International Investment worth up to Rs 1,925 crores to invest in Mahindra Electric Automobile (MEAL) at a valuation of up to Rs 70,070 crore.

The interaction also demonstrated Mahindra’s EV journey to be at its peak as it remains bullish on India’s EV future with its optimistic vision for 2027.

The Bonus Issue

The winners of the 6th edition of BW CFO World's best CFO & Finance Strategy Awards are featured in this special issue. The best Chief Financial Officers exhibited their expertise by successfully navigating their companies through macroeconomic challenges to achieve long-term growth and value generation.

Moreover, the bonus issue exhibits the vision and agility of the CFOs to prepare their firms to tackle unforeseen economic challenges.

The bonus issue also emphasises on the completion of nine years of Modi government at office. It features the high moments of Modi government’s nine-year long journey in India, as well as insights from industry veterans and their perspectives on the shifting business and economic landscape.

The issue also captures the essence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s milestones under his leadership in a graphic illustration where his mantra of ‘Reform, Perform, Transform’ has been perfectly portrayed, attracting foreign investors to India and creating new opportunities for home grown entrepreneurs.

Nonetheless, the bonus issue also covers the Indian home décor segment to grow at a CAGR of 6.75 per cent from this year to 2027, redefining the taste of the consumers.

In addition, the bonus issue captures the launch of the fifth generation C-class of Mercedes Benz in India last year.

Read the the e-magazine of BW Businessworld on ‘The Movement of EV Sector and Sluggish growth of EV Infrastructure along with its Bonus Issue Featuring India’s Super CFOs, 9 Years of Modi Regime & More.

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Nirmala Lakshman replaces Malini Parthasarathy as Chairperson of The Hindu Group

Lakshman has been associated with the group for over four decades

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 4:53 PM   |   1 min read


The Hindu Group has appointed Nirmala Lakshman as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of The Hindu Group Publishing Private Limited (THGPPL) for a term of three years.

She succeeds Malini Parthasarathy, who stepped down as Chairperson at the Board’s meeting on Monday, June 5, 2023 upon nearing the completion of her three-year term.

Lakshman holds a Ph.D. in post-modern literature and brings with her more than four decades of experience as an editor, writer, and strategist for The Hindu’s various publications.

In her years as Joint Editor of The Hindu, she led the re-launch of several feature sections and the creation of new ones, such as ‘The Hindu Literary Review’, ‘Young World’, and ‘The Hindu in School’. She is the founder and curator of Lit for Life, The Hindu’s literary festival.  Lakshman has also served as the Chairperson of Kasturi Media Limited (KML), publishers of The Hindu Tamil Thisai.

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The Hindu unveils Frontline’s new avatar

The new look has compelling images, bolder fonts, and a clean and airy design palette, the group said

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 11:08 AM   |   4 min read


The Hindu has unveiled the new style of Frontline magazine. The redesigned Frontline continues the legacy of high-quality journalism, now set within a design and format that is relevant for a new readership. Compelling images, bolder fonts, and a clean and airy design palette make for a more engaging reading experience, said the group.

The unveiling was attended by eminent personalities, including leading economists such as Prabhat Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh, and CP Chandrashekar; cultural activist Ganesh Devy; artist Jatin Das; the founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Zakia Soman; senior ambassadors and diplomats; academics, journalists, authors, publishers, and activists. Political personalities such as Pawan Khera (Congress), Manoj Jha (RJD), and D. Raja (CPI) also attended.

There was a panel discussion on the subject “Kashmir: Changing the Discourse” with Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, and President of the Peoples Democratic Party, A. S. Dulat, former chief of the Research and Analysis wing (R&AW), Pavan K Varma, author, ex-diplomat, and former Rajya Sabha MP and N. Ram, former editor-in-chief, Frontline, The Hindu & Director, The Hindu Group. Vaishna Roy, Editor, Frontline, moderated the session.

The Frontline app was launched by Malini Parthasarathy and N. Ram. The app is available for Android users and will soon be available for iOS users.

Malini Parthasarathy (then Chairperson of The Hindu Group) said, “Frontline’s journalistic emphasis has always been on longer-form journalism, examination and exploration of the larger context and background to events as they unfold on the ground. Frontline takes pride in its unflinching honesty and has a well-defined perspective that does not hesitate to highlight what it sees as the “rights” and the “wrongs” in developing situations.”

“Building on this formidable reputation and legacy, Frontline has now a strong print subscriber base of 30,000 copies and the largest active digital subscriber base of any Indian magazine. The website attracts approximately 4 lakh active users monthly. Frontline’s highly engaged subscribers spend an average of 20 minutes per visit compared to the 2-4 minutes spent on average for most news publications. This is an indicator of the high regard for our long-form content.”

“It is obvious that especially for magazines such as Frontline, the print market remains alive and well. The digital shift is already taking place in The Hindu and Sportstar. With the redesigned print version, Frontline will also accelerate its digital push, to provide what the team promises a “Smarter Reading Experience.”

N. Ram, former editor-in-chief of Frontline and The Hindu, and Director, The Hindu Group, said, “The launch has been excellent. We discussed an important subject like Kashmir. Different views were presented and it was a very crucial part of the launch. The event witnessed the presence of notable figures from various walks of life including intellectuals, diplomats, and avid readers. Their presence attests to Frontline's esteemed reputation.”

Vaishna Roy, the Frontline editor, said, “I took over as editor in May last year. We have since been working to redesign and reposition the magazine for the new age. Our content is more engaging, has many more perspectives, and will appeal to readers from all walks of life.” Graphic designer Mario Garcia helped revamp the magazine, Roy said, adding that he had made it look elegant and vibrant.

Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, and President of the Peoples Democratic party, said, “I extend my best wishes to Frontline and I hope that they keep on setting the bar high and always remain in the front.”

Pavan K Varma, author, ex-diplomat, and former Rajya Sabha MP, said, “I congratulate Frontline for relaunching in a new avatar. Previously, the magazine was considered just as the reference material, but now it will be far more readable and contemporary.”

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Govt has unlocked opportunities like never before for Indian entrepreneurs: Vineet Jain

The Times Group MD has said the India growth story is ‘here, now and real’

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 3, 2023 9:04 AM   |   1 min read

Vineet Jain

Times Group MD Vineet Jain has said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has "unlocked opportunities like never before for Indian entrepreneurs", said media reports.

Speaking at a recent media conclave, Jain said that the India growth story is "here, now and real".

He also spoke of how the country was emerging as the "fastest growing large economy" amid global headwinds.

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Even today, newspapers are the most credible: Vijay Darda, Lokmat

Darda, Chairman, Lokmat Media Group, spoke about the changing nature of journalism in a discussion with veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai

By Shantanu David | Jun 1, 2023 8:20 AM   |   3 min read

vijay darda

Even as veteran journalist and editor Rajdeep Sardesai noted that Vijay Darda, Chairman, Lokmat Media Group, and three-time MP, had a penchant for news headlines, the journalist, Congress politician, and activist provided three new ones at the launch of his book, Ringside, at the Capital earlier this week.

“Modi is likely to win 2024 elections”

“Vidarbha will become its own state”

“Congress needed Tharoor, not Kharge”

In a freewheeling talk at the event, which saw the book launched by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor; and introduced by a former advisor to the PM, Dr Sanjay Baru; and The Print’s Shekhar Gupta, Darda and Sardesai discussed the journalism of politics and politics of journalism and their changing nature over time.

Speaking to exchange4media, Darda explained, “See, change is the need of the hour. Changes keep coming from time to time. Journalism of freedom cannot happen in today's era. If the journalism of today's era was there in the time of independence, it would not have been able to give justice as was needed.”

Perhaps it is this reason that he decided to publish Ringside at this point in time.  

“This book is a compilation of my weekly articles, which were published between 2011 and 2016 in Lokmat Media Group's newspapers and other leading national and regional dailies of the country. It includes research articles related to science, environment, economy, security, social development, sports, arts, culture, foreign policy and national and international affairs,” said Darda.

 In addition, the book also includes commentary on eminent personalities who have made significant contributions to social, national and international development in India and the world.

Development is something Darda keeps a key eye on, even as technology continues to transform and change every facet of life. “Changes keep happening with time and people also keep changing with time.”

Speaking about one of the biggest changes we’re seeing today, Darda said, “I don't see it (AI) as a challenge in any way. There is no challenge in life; the question is what your goal is. Now artificial intelligence has come into newsrooms, but for the first time in the world, Lokmat Group has created software that tells the status of its news, whether it is one-star, two-star, three-star or five-star. All the top companies are demanding it from us. I believe that you have to provide good and reliable content to the readers.”

And even as it was journalists’ duty to keep readers informed, the public also had to appreciate that times and sensibilities were changing, as indeed were mediums of exchange. “Even today, newspapers have the most credibility. Digital and all other media platforms will have to work very hard to prove their credibility.”

This also explains the growing adoption of paywalls by leading media publications when it comes to their content.

“In this regard, I would say that if you have a shop and I want to buy goods from it, then I will have to pay money. Those who do not want to read the newspaper by paying money can read it by going to the library or the museum,” said Darda, concluding, “As far as reading newspapers online is concerned, if some institutions have made such arrangements i.e. subscription model has been adopted, then you will have to subscribe to read them.”

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Jagran Prakashan Q4 consolidated operating revenue stands at Rs 1856 cr

The group’s advertisement revenues saw an increase of 13%, circulation revenues up 6%

By exchange4media Staff | May 31, 2023 8:32 AM   |   3 min read


Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL), publishers of Dainik Jagran, has reported consolidated operating revenue at Rs 1856.17 crore, up by 14.9% from Rs 1615.95 crore in FY22

The group’s advertisement revenues saw an increase of 13.3% at Rs 1290.40 crore from Rs 1138.95 crore. Similarly, circulation revenues grew 6.1% to Rs 373.22 crore from Rs 351.64 crore.

Other operating revenues were at Rs 192.56 crores, up by 53.1% from Rs 125.76 crores. Meanwhile, digital revenue up by 16.1 % at Rs 85.66 crores from Rs 73.77 crores. The profit after tax stood at Rs 196.79 crores, up by 13.6% from Rs 216.88 crores in FY22.

Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, JPL said, “The financial year began with worsening geo-political conditions causing uncertainties and disruption in the supply chain but India successfully managed to contain its impact on the economy by controlling inflation and ensuring supplies to its citizens with minimum disruption. The Media and Entertainment Industry thrives on discretionary spends and suffers when there are challenges like high inflation, lack of jobs and uncertain outlook.”

He further added that these adversities weaken the demand in general which have a direct correlation with the industry’s performance. The company has reported growth twice of estimated growth in the economy during the year.

“As the numbers show, all the businesses recorded significant growth in revenues. Outdoor and Event & Activation businesses deserve special mention as the delivery in terms of growth in revenues and profit exceeded those reported in the pre-pandemic financial year. I am glad to report that they are constantly increasing their share in the total pie and creating value for the stakeholders, which is not yet captured in the market capitalisation of the company.”

According to Gupta, both these businesses are self-dependent on funds required for meeting increased working capital requirements due to increased scale of operations and also inorganic growth and he hopes and trusts that they would continue to do so unless there is an opportunity for larger investments.

The radio business also performed satisfactorily and recorded strong growth though they are still behind pre-pandemic revenues by about 35%. “Radio being primarily fixed cost business model not needing any significant additional capital deployment in business for growth, its profits and cash generation will grow higher than the growth in revenues. Going forward, yield is also expected to improve with consumption picking.”

Speaking about the Print business, Gupta said, “It was stable reporting satisfactory growth in revenues on a high base. Midday registered robust growth in revenues catching up fast with its revenues in pre-pandemic times and turning into operating profit as well from significant operating loss. The company continues to maintain its market share and will embark upon increasing the same in fiscal 2023-24 on expectations that a slowdown in consumption will reverse in the next 6 months. Revenue of print business will take another a year or so to reach pre-pandemic revenue level but the profits will improve significantly with moderation in exceptionally high newsprint prices and normalisation of high inflation in other costs that impaired the profitability for the year under report.”

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