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NRS 2006: Times races ahead of HT in Delhi, strengthens stranglehold in Mumbai

31-August-2006
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NRS 2006: Times races ahead of HT in Delhi, strengthens stranglehold in Mumbai

The Delhi story in terms of English publications has been simple for a long time – Hindustan Times (HT) has been the clear leader. However, NRS 2006 has changed the ballgame for the first time. The Times of India (TOI) has toppled HT to claim the number one position in terms of readership. From the 1,512,000 figure in NRS 2005, TOI has grown to 2,074,000. HT too has seen an increase – from 1,910,000 to 1,984,000 – but this hasn’t been enough to hold on to its leadership position.

Speaking on these numbers, Rahul Kansal, Brand Director, ToI, said, “We are thrilled with the results. We have recaptured leadership and being the No. 1 in Delhi is no mean achievement.”

While this is the story for one metro, Mumbai has an interesting story to tell too. All eyes were on the Mumbai market, with HT and DNA entering the market to challenge the monopolistic leader, and TOI launching a second paper, Mumbai Mirror, as an additional arsenal to take on the challengers. The good news is that the Mumbai market has seen a readership increase. As for the Old Lady of Bori Bunder, it has further strengthened its stranglehold in Mumbai.

TOI continues to be a dominant No. 1 daily in Mumbai with a readership of 1,670,000 against the 1,595,000-readership mark it had in NRS 2005. Mid Day too has seen an increase – from 706,000 to 734,000 in this round. Good news comes for newcomer Mumbai Mirror, as the ‘compact’ has shown a readership of 881,000. While the number makes it the second most read print product in Mumbai, it must be borne in mind that the Mirror is largely given free with every copy of TOI.

DNA has had a good start in NRS with a readership of 518,000. HT Mumbai edition has clocked a readership of 360,000.

DNA’s Chief Marketing Officer, Suresh Balakrishnan said, “We are happy with the numbers. In just 10 months of our existence, to get a figure like this in a city like Mumbai is a statement in itself. I don’t think it would be easy for anyone to be 31 per cent of the market leader within the first year of operations. The fact that we have indicates that we have arrived.”

Balakrishnan is elated with the kind of readership that the paper has attracted. He said, “Getting the right kind if numbers is important and I think that is what we have achieved, give that our reader profile is as good as the market leader’s or everyone else’ for that matter. It is encouraging to see that we are in the right direction.”

He spoke about market expansion, which was a point that Cyriac Mathew, Chief Operating Officer, too highlighted. Mathew said, “As the numbers suggest, the market is definitely growing, but at the same time, the market is getting fragmented, which would suggest that the No.1 and No. 2 would be important for the advertisers with a lot of action at the lower end.”

For Mid Day, the numbers are positive given the fact that the tabloid has shown growth despite a substitute in Mumbai Mirror being added to the Mumbai market and the fact that it was available free with the ToI. Mathew said, “We are delighted with the news. We expected to have a positive growth in line with the circulation growth we are experiencing. This reinforces the fact that we are still the No. 2 newspaper in Mumbai considering the fact that at Rs 3 we are being sought and read over other newspapers, which are either sold at throw away prices and even given away free in some cases.”

Speaking specifically on Mumbai Mirror, Mathew said, “Well it’s a supplement of ToI and our competition is with the standalone papers. Having said that, had we been MM, we would not be happy with the figures.”

But ToI’s Kansal is happy with the numbers and said that they were encouraging enough to convert Mirror into a standalone soon. He said, “It is clear that the paper has a clear following in the youth and that sooner or later, we would make it standalone. That said, however, I must point out that Mumbai Mirror is the fastest sold at cash sales points in Mumbai, better than any paper there is and shows that the paper is not piggy backing on ToI.”

Replying on why the paper had shown an overall decrease in readership despite the increase in the key markets, Kansal said, “We have grown in the metros – the decline has come in the rural and small towns. This is in line with what the organisation had planned on focus in respective areas of growth.”

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