Print Magazine vs Digital Magazine

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Challenging Times

The magazine industry is going through a tough phase in India just like in other countries. Newspapers have added supplements to their main issue and infringed on the content covered by magazines earlier. Television channels have launched in different genres that didn't exist a few years back. And with the increased penetration and adoption of the Internet in the country, more people are now consuming news and stories on different topics on the web and mobile. There is still a demand for high quality print content and magazines need to deliver on that need to avoid losing market share to other mediums. In addition, they also need to explore and distribute their content on the web and mobile platforms to give choice to their subscribers to consume content from anywhere and at any time.

India has 49,000 publications, but annual revenues total just $1.1 billion. Most lack technology, marketing, and capital to grow which has resulted in a handful of publications dominating the market with the Times of India Group being the market leader. Distribution is critical for a magazine since it has to be readily available and marketed to consumers. Big publications have strong distribution network set up.

* Retail: magazines are available in retail outlets for sale. The retailer gets a commission on the sale price.

* Subscription: publisher signs up subscribers directly or through partners and delivers the issues in mail.

* Selective Distribution: Special sponsored copies are distributed in airplanes and hotels.

With the growth coming from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, magazines have to expand their distribution channel aggressively in those locations and localize content where needed.

The print industry in India is highly fragmented due to the large number of local languages. Regional language publications own 46 percent of the market share, Hindi language publications cover 44 percent and the remaining 10 percent is served by English publications. The primary penetration of English language magazines currently is in metros and urban centers though the growth is widening to smaller cities as the education and income levels increase among the middle class.

With the opening up of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, several international publishers are aggressively entering the market and this trend is expected to continue.

The Opportunity

There's little doubt about India's market potential. According to a national survey, 248 million literate adults still don't read any publication. Readership of newspapers and magazines is up 15% since 1998 to 180 million. It's a reflection of a younger, more educated population, especially in smaller cities.

Now that the doors to foreign investors in print media have been thrown open, one can expect activity to pick up in this sector. Companies such as Pearson, Haymarket, Time India, News Corp., and Dow Jones have eyed India's big, English-reading market. ICICI Ventures, which holds stakes in three media companies, is quite bullish about the industry's prospects.

Trade books offer the best openings, since a higher FDI has been permitted in them. Britain's Haymarket Publishing Group already has ties to Autocar India, with 80,000 subscribers. Haymarket doesn't own a stake, but helps with research and management. Now, it can invest, provide funds to print more copies, market more strongly and use Autocar as a platform to bring its other brands. Bombay's Tata Infomedia, a $30 million publisher of yellow pages and trade magazines, also has already started to solicit business with foreign companies. The Tata Group sold the Indian edition of Reader's Digest magazine, making it the first publishing property offered for sale since the government had scrapped the ban on foreign investment in the print media.

As expected, there have been various anti-FDI lobbies, which are strongly voicing protests against foreign investment in Indian Print Media....
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