When the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) was missing in action, India added around 11 crore readers according to the IRS 2017 Report that was unveiled in Mumbai today. The last IRS study happened three years back in 2014. Total readership of newspapers (including the smaller local titles that are not registered with the INS) has crossed 40 crore from the earlier number of 29 crore plus readers.
However, the regularity of newspaper readers has stagnated as readers access news from the digital media. In some markets, the regularity of reading newspapers has also declined.
The study, that’s labelled as the readership research study in the world, covered a full year sample size of 3.2 lakh households, a sample size increase by an unprecedented 34 per cent over the previous edition of the study in 2014.
The other highlight was the insight that India was getting richer. According to the study, the number of readers in the NCCS (new consumer classification system) D and E was shrinking rapidly indicating that readers in this segment were moving upwards to C & B.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman MRUC (Media Research Users Council) and chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Networks said that 39 per cent of Indians (12+ years) read newspapers. “These numbers definitely tell us that there is a bright future awaiting the printing industry. I am also hoping that we will now begin to see advertisers and media agencies taking print more seriously.”
N P Sathyamurthy, chairman – RSCI technical committee and executive director, DDB Mudra Group said that the report has been strengthened with additions like total readership, readership numbers for seven days, three days and the separate reporting of newspaper variants (newspapers having lesser pages and different pricing than the main edition).
While regional dailies have dominated India’s readership studies for a while, It’s probably the first time when not a single daily figured in the top ten. The Times of India was the lone daily that figured in the top ten in the 2013 and 2014 editions of the study. It now figures at No. 11 in the overall list and as the only English daily in the top 20. MRUC executives however said that any comparison with the past would be unfair as the methodology has undergone a drastic change.
Vijay Darda, chairman, Lokmat Media Group, the only Marathi publication in the top 10 dailies of India, said, “Regional publications will pave the way for growth of New Bharat and rural readership has grown significantly contributing to a higher pie in the overall readership and growth of print in India. Overall 40% growth in print is so heartening and it clearly shows readers believe in true journalism.”