To understand the future of English print media in India, you don’t have to pore over the fine print. The toplines from three studies that were unveiled recently tell the story -- in a fairly large font size.
Let’s start with the IRS 2017 that made a headline announcement of an increase of 11 crore readers in daily newspapers (people who read a newspaper at least once in the last one month before they were interviewed). However, seven crore of this increase came from the rural market. Half of the 11 crore (increase) came from Hindi newspapers, while the balance has come from all other languages put together.
Zoom in further to the English media as compared to the growth of regional dailies. Look at the growth of dailies across languages and you can see a very healthy growth across regional media, barring Bengali newspapers, that showed a mere nine per cent growth. Newspapers in every other Indian language grew upwards of 30-35 per cent. Some languages like Oriya have even grown by 83 per cent. On the flip side, look at English media. It registered only a 10 per cent growth.
Now look at the ad spends. Madison Media, in its recently released Advertising Report predicts that print media will grow at 5 per cent in ad spends for 2018, while the growth forecast for the overall ad spends is 12.3 per cent. Though Madison says that overall ad volumes for English media grew at 4 per cent in 2017, the report does not mention how much the ad spends in English print media went up by.
Third, when GroupM put out its This Year Next Year forecast of ad spends about 10 days back, it showed a 13 percent growth for the entire advertising pie. However, print is the only medium that shows a low single digit growth rate (4 per cent). Other traditional media like Radio and OOH (out of home) that were growing in single digits last year (7 and 8 per cent respectively) are expected to grow at 15 per cent in 2018, while TV that has a lion's share of 46 per cent of the ad pie, still grows at 13 per cent.
GroupM’s CVL Srinivas pointed out that even within print, the regional media ad spends were expected to grow in healthy single digits (in the 8-9 per cent range). So is it predicted to be a decline in ad spends for English print media in 2018? It does not take a magnifying glass to read into that.