Why print media remains relevant in India?

Shashi Tharoor has a piece. He says print media has died in mist countries, but growing in India.

Why so?

The robustness of India’s print-newspaper industry cannot be attributed to lack of growth in Internet access: in the last decade, the share of the population with Internet access rose from less than 10% to some 30%. So what does explain India’s thriving newspaper market?

One basic factor is India’s rising literacy rate, which has climbed to 79%, owing largely to improvement in the “cow belt” of the northern states – the Hindi-speaking heartland. In the 1960s, when Hindi speakers were overwhelmingly less literate than those who read in English, Malayalam, and Bengali, Hindi newspapers had low circulations. Today, they are on top: for the second decade in a row, Hindi newspapers experienced the fastest growth, with average circulation soaring at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.78% since 2006.

Economic development has also helped India’s newspaper industry. Many newly affluent Indians get their national and international news from television. But events close to home are best covered in the local dailies. And, indeed, newspapers remain the best way to reach this segment of Indian society.

To be sure, most leading news outlets in India have been developing their digital offerings. They have created mobile apps to download the news from their sites, and they increasingly treat their readers to short takes of digestible news briefs tailored to the small screens of hand-held devices.

But, for many serious readers, such options are no substitute for the look and feel of a printed newspaper article. Printed newspapers offer the added advantage of reliability, in a country where Internet access cannot be guaranteed all the time, owing to still-patchy electricity supplies, which cause frequent blackouts even in the capital. News junkies still need a tangible paper that can be read in the sunlight without a fully charged battery.

Given all of this, it may not be quite so surprising that advertisers in India have remained loyal to the appeal of newspaper ink over the flickering cursor. In sharp contrast with the Western experience, advertising remains the Indian newspaper industry’s main source of revenue.

Of course, this trend may not last forever. But, for now, India’s newspapers are in no danger of becoming financially unviable. While growth in digital advertising expenditure is surging, at an annual rate of nearly 30%, it still comprises just 8% of India’s total ad spending. Meanwhile, TV and print advertising revenue are also growing, at 8% and 4.5%, respectively.

Hmmm..

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: