Magazines lose shine
The latest Indian Readership Survey for the second quarter of 2011 shows that magazine readership continues to follow the decline trend of the past two years, specifically general interest magazines. Business and niche magazines, however, are showing growth.business Updated: Oct 02, 2011 22:39 IST
The latest Indian Readership Survey for the second quarter of 2011 shows that magazine readership continues to follow the decline trend of the past two years, specifically general interest magazines. Business and niche magazines, however, are showing growth.
Among business magazines, two relatively new publications - the Indian editions of Forbes and Fortune - have added fresh excitement. They are targeting the top end of the English magazine readership.
IRS 2011 Q2 shows that of the top 10 magazines, India Today is the only English language magazine to feature and despite the trend of general interest magazines declining in readership, it has gained readership over Q1.
Business Today is the only business magazine to feature in the top 10 English language magazines list. The highest read business magazine in India, it did lose some readership in Q1 2011, but made up some of the loss in Q2.
Business Outlook is the only business magazine to have shown steady readership growth over the last five quarters.
"We have been looking at the numbers - ad revenues and circulation - and there is clear growth even as others have shown a decline," said Maheshwar Peri, publisher, Outlook.
According to IRS, 2010 saw an overall growth in readership of business magazines over 2009, with Business Today, Outlook Business, Business World and Outlook Money gaining in readership and Business India remaining at the same level.
"There is a loss of interest in general interest magazines. There is a lot of pressure on revenues. Even as the overall advertising spends in print are growing at a healthy 20-25%, spends on magazines are going down," Ramaswamy Ranganathan, business group head, Mediacom, said.
"Magazine consumption is changing - a drop is occurring among the male readers. Also, demographically, there is a drop in the peripheral readers," said Arabinda Ghosh, executive VP, ZenithOptimedia India, a media agency.
According to the FICCI-KPMG media and entertainment industry report of 2011, the magazine market in India has more than 68 genres across 19 categories.
The magazine industry's declining growth contribution to the print media industry, say magazine sources, is due to a lack of adequate measurement mechanisms to measure reach, popularity and return on investment.
"In general, magazine readership is on a decline but that is more limited to the general interest magazines. The business magazine category is seeing fresh excitement with the entry of new premium players and there is a revival to some extent," said Gurmeet Singh, CEO, Forbes India.
"Even though the space in the business genre is heavily crowded, the business magazines are well-positioned. The new international players who have entered the business genre are positioned differently with their pricing. As such, you can never replace the pure play Indian business magazines that, despite their pricing, are churning out better content," said Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today.
"At Rs 100, they are reaching out to a very niche audience."
Business magazines have already increased their cover prices. Business Today and Outlook Business have seen a price hike of Rs 5.
More international magazines are launching in India, especially in the niche and special interest magazine category. Worldwide Media launched Lonely Planet in the first half in 2010 and BBC Knowledge and Home Trends in the second half. Network 18 launched ForbesLife and Conde Nast Traveler.
All these magazines are priced at Rs 100-250.
"Some of them have shown good growth albeit from small numbers," the PricewaterhouseCoopers media and entertainment 2011 report noted.
Niche magazines have made their presence felt in India and will continue to grow, PwC predicts. While segments such as travel, auto, lifestyle and education are already established, it expects new segments to emerge and grow this space.
In 2010, a few niche magazines such as Autocar, India Today Travel Plus and Outlook Traveler recorded very healthy growth.
Of the total print industry, magazines contribute only around 5-6% in revenues. Advertising currently comprises around 70% of magazine revenues.
"Revenues are not down but the sources are undergoing a change as there is more contribution from non-subscription-based areas. While advertising, sales and subscription may contribute a large portion together, events, innovations and digital presence are contributing more," said Ashish Pherwani, associate director, Ernst & Young.
Whether this will be enough to sustain magazines, going forward, is unclear. Ranganathan said: "With the cost levels going up, consolidation is the only way forward for the magazine industry."