Rewind 2012: Print industry, less than perfect

The year witnessed innovations, expansions & acquisitions, yet readership continued to slide. What was it that made the print industry less than perfect?

e4m by Abid Hasan
Updated: Jan 1, 2013 5:20 PM
Rewind 2012: Print industry, less than perfect

The year 2012 witnessed several expansions, acquisitions, innovations and movements.

Just before Valentine’s Day came the news that Dainik Jagran was in talks to buy NaiDunia and within a month came the acquisition, which gave birth to a new daily, National Dunia.

The year also saw Essel Group completely taking over of DNA by buying out Dainik Bhaskar Group’s stake in the venture.

And recently, if sources are to be believed, two print players are actively negotiating to buy Amar Ujala in an attempt to get a foothold in the Hindi print market.

The year saw both regional and English dailies spread their base in Tier II and III cities. The Times of India expanded in the South, giving tough competition to The Hindu. Times Group also forayed into the Bengali daily market with Ei Samay, challenging the ABP Group. To counter Ei Samay’s launch, ABP launched E Bela.
Keeping in line with its focus on strengthening foothold in the non-metro, TOI also expanded in Aurangabad and Visakhapatnam.

Maharashtra Times continued to fortify its presence in Maharashtra, with new editions in Nagpur and Nashik. Vijayavani also increased the number of its editions to nine in Karnataka in a quick span of three months. Meanwhile, in order to target the young readers of Indore, i-Next the bilingual tabloid from Dainik Jagran, was launched with NaiDunia.

The year also saw the rapid rise of niche magazines in varied genres – from travel to watches to adventure and real estate. New Media launched the magazine ‘Sea Ports’, which covers all aspects of the ports and shipping sectors and allied services. Malayala Manorama launched ‘Watch Time’ magazine, while SS Media launched a magazine on the real estate industry, named ‘Estate Avenues’. Some other niche magazines launched during the year included ‘Rural India’, ‘DJ Mag’ and ‘Officers’ Time’, among others.

Meanwhile, the Hindu Group of Publications re-launched its fortnightly magazine ‘Frontline’.

Innovation was name of the game when it came to tap festive occasions. And some newspapers took the olfactory route to arouse their readers’ senses, infusing the editions with mango and coffee fragrances. On the occasion of Dhanteras, some newspapers came out with special perfumed editions.

Along with a plethora of ads, Diwali was also an occasion to experiment with fragrances by the newspapers. An enterprising daily even offered a ‘Shiver’ experience to readers as they flipped through the pages of the paper.

Movements that mattered
The year saw several top level movements in the industry. Essel Group appointed BCCL’s Bhaskar Das as Group CEO of its News Cluster, while KU Rao moved from his role as CEO of DNA to a corporate role in Essel Group.

In order to expand business footprint and corner high market share, TOI assigned the retail and allied verticals to Sameer Sainani, and business and financial services to Joy Chakraborthy.

Meanwhile, some of the most well-known names in the industry exchanged their working cabins. Vijay Trivedi returned Rajasthan Patrika’s fold, where he had started his career. MJ Akbar quit India Today Group in October 2012 after a two-year stint. Arun Anant joined The Hindu as CEO, while Shravan Garg moved back to NaiDunia as Chief Editor, but under the new umbrella of Jagran Prakashan. Delhi Press roped in Sabyasachi Ghosh to look after its signature magazines.

Also, during the year, Pheroza Bilimoria stepped down as the Managing Director of Business India Group, while Amit Chopra quit as CEO of Hindustan Media Ventures.

Readership slide continued
The new avatar of Indian Readership Survey (IRS) was one of the most looked out for results in the Indian print industry as the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) gave its in principle nod to the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI) and awarded the contract for the new IRS to the Nielsen Company.

Q1 and Q2 of IRS 2012 do not paint a happy picture of the print industry. While Q1 showed at least a marginal growth for Hindi dailies, it disappeared in the Q2 results.

Seven of the top 10 Hindi magazines witnessed decline in Average Issue Readership (AIR), while six of the top 10 English dailies also saw decline. Six of the top English magazine witnessed drop in AIR.

The industry came up with various campaigns such as ‘Pratibha Samman’, junior editors and ‘Horn Bajane ki Bimari’ to engage more and more readers, but these hardly showed any impact on readership. This gives rise to the question as to whether innovations work for print publications or are innovations just a way to earn more revenues through ads, while showing little or no impact on the circulation figures.

The theme for Rewind 2012 is Different Strokes. All write ups on various aspects of the Indian media, marketing and advertising industry will be around an international TV show or sitcom that best described the year that was...

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