Archive for Print

Traditional Media 2.0 ?

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2008 by manuscrypts

Traditional media, and specifically the print media, don’t seem to be too worried about the web being competition. Possibly justified, since, unlike their counterparts in the US, their circulation numbers don’t seem to be dipping. Which is perhaps why, they don’t think much of web 2.0 or the potential it offers to them. For now, they’re satisfied with saying that they are on the web too.

In fact, the TV sites like CNN IBN and even NDTV to a certain extent looked much more closer to what a media site should be, online. Even they have some way to go before they can take on, say a CNN. I recently saw India Today’s site, which shows some promise.

But I’m wondering if the story of traditional media websites and pure web players is a little like the old hare and tortoise story, roles played respectively. Consider this, the JuxtConsult 2008 report says that checking news is the 4th most common activity that Indians indulge in, on the Internet. The same report shows Yahoo as the most preferred site for this purpose, with MoneyControl and CricInfo taking the top spots in Financial News and Cricket news respectively. At a circulation of 31.46 lakhs, why doesn’t TOI find a place there? If we take into account that the Internet in india is still at a nascent stage, don’t the already popular dailies have a good chance of replicating their success on the internet, especially if they start early and already have a good credibility factor in that space?

And this is not restricted to English media. With every online player realising the importance of vernacular, even the regional language players cannot afford to stand and watch. Which perhaps Malayala Manorama has realised, because the last few days saw a flurry of activity in pushing their website as well as their matrimonial site. One could say that the latter is a late entrant, but in both cases, MM is heavily leveraging their strengths in traditional media. This is of course, in addition to the news channel and radio stations. Perfectly poised, I’d say.

Meanwhile, on another and what I would consider a more dangerous front, there are entities like Instablogs, which in addition to a wonderful design, does a superb mix of news and user generated content, including the recently added user-generated-video-news, all of that based out of Simla. Sigh. Not to forget webdunia, which though does not boast of a cool interface like the former, is doing very well on the regional media front.

With the rapid penetration of the mobile, the increasing access of the internet through mobile, and the vernacular factor, I’m wondering if the race in India will buck the regular trends shown globally, and suddenly swing in favor of the new media players, while the hare is caught napping.

Printing Concerns

Posted in India, Internet with tags , on May 6, 2008 by manuscrypts

This post suggests that its not not just Jaipur and Goa that’s going to have changing times, the Gulf too might have TOI spewing out the intricacies of their version of Page 3. Considering the ever growing number of my brethren there, maybe they should consider a Malayalam edition? 😉

Meanwhile, The Economist has an article on the newspaper scene in the US, where a lot of the old mastheads might soon be out of circulation, while web only entities like the Huffington Post are flourishing. Thankfully, Bush hasn’t blamed India for the decline, yet. The article also goes on to say that while the majority of players are suffering there are some who are bucking this trend. But there’s no arguing that the web, which is seen as a major contributor to the decline, is here to stay.

Meanwhile, they have another article, which talks about the print industry in india, for which PwC predicts a rosy future, thanks to rising literacy levels. But we have to keep in mind (as the article says) that it is an industry that survives on ad rates as opposed to circulation and pricing, and the IRS figures anyway show at best a single digit growth, if at all there is a growth. Also, English dailies are more of an urban phenomenon, it is unlikely that future growth will come from rural areas, because the audience may not be monetisable, and the vernacular dailies would be taking a large share of the advertising pie already. Which only leaves the urban areas, where the medium itself would face stiff competition in future from Television, radio and the internet, especially since the last one provides much better measurement metrics.

So I, for one, would like to know the details of PwC’s study that claim that the print media in India will rise from 149 billion rupees ($3.6 billion) in 2007 to 281 billion rupees in 2012. I am also not sure why a scenario like the US would not be replicated, at least in urban India. For those who say that the broadband penetration in India is a pipe dream, we must not forget the other medium called mobile, thats growing at a blistering pace.

until next time, stop press?

MĂ©nage Ă  trois ?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2008 by manuscrypts

And finally the battle is on. The one that most people in the media fraternity would’ve been waiting for. TOI has finally launched in Chennai, amidst a lot of fanfare, and has succesfully provoked two of its three resident English publications. More on that in a bit.

While the planning has been going on for years, I feel that TOI is late, by about 3 years, around the time that Deccan Chronicle took its baby steps outside AP. This was around the time that TOI was beginning to pull away from Deccan Herald in Bangalore and establishing itself as a clear leader. This momentum should’ve been carried on to Chennai too. From its experience in Hyderabad, TOI should’ve realised that DC is not to be taken lightly, and understood its intentions.  But then, thats water under the bridge.

What have the resident publications been upto? Indian Express has woken up just in time (thats debatable) and launched a new brand campaign, and a new look, complete with tagline – ‘100% steel, 0% gas’. While it does sound a bit like an infrastructural mutual fund, the ads per se were quite interesting, sporting a graffiti look and tabloid style provocative lines.

The Hindu, in what i believe, is a strategic faux pas as far as timing goes, has reduced its cover price from Rs.3.25 to Rs.2.50. They look to be rattled already, and that’s a wrong signal to send out, especially from the market leader. The least they could’ve done is timed this earlier so that it didn’t look like a reaction.

Deccan Chronicle has been conspicuously silent. It is inching closer to the Hindu and currently priced at 1.50. Wonder if they will revert to their old pricing, if TOI eats into their share.

From the looks of it, TOI might succeed in becoming the second paper in the Hindu households and possibly the first paper for the new entrants to the city. Exactly the situation in bangalore a while back. But Hindu is no DH, since they’ve already started supplements which are supposed to bridge the need gap, which The Hindu per se, cannot do. And thats exactly what the biggest barrier for TOI is, a habit. One that it will try to circumvent by inculcating itself as a habit to the new Chennai residents.

Chennai reminds me of Panipat. To tell you why would entail a short history lesson. The first battle of Panipat resulted in the founding of the Mughal empire. Against the massive resources of Lodhi, Babur’s guns proved to be the ace. Not dissimilar from the price war that DC unleashed on Hindu. And while Babur won, and DC is a close second, it might be just a matter of time. Those of you who have seen Jodhaa Akbar or paid attention to your history teacher (her history lessons, cheapos 🙂 ) would understand the pivotal role of the second battle. If not for a freak archer, it would’ve prevented the Mughals from establishing their empire, it changed India.  For Hindu, Chennai is home, one that has to defended at all costs. For DC, its second home, and critical to their plans of becoming the masthead of South India. For TOI, its one more significant step towards becoming the only significant player to have footprints across India. Who will blink first?

until next time, or is it fourplay?