Indian newspapers lose steam

Bucking the global trend no more?

With its emphasis on the increase in the number of registered publications, the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) seems to have provided the proverbial fig leaf to the dwindling circulation of leading morning dailies.

In its 59th Annual Report on Print Media- “Press in India 2014–15”, the RNI headlined a 5.8 per cent growth in print media in 2014–15 with the underlying statistics of 5,817 new publications registered during the period.

The Report, based on an analysis of annual statements filed by the registered publications, also highlighted a higher circulation of publications in 2015 (51,05,21,445 in 2014–15 Vs. 45,05,86,212 copies in 2013–14).

A closer look at the numbers presented in the Report reveals a vastly different story.

The team at Storynomics analysed the circulation reported by India’s leading morning newspaper brands in English, Hindi and local languages for eight markets- Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Ahmedabad.

Overall, the observations are:

  • Leading English dailies as a category lost circulation in FIVE of the top eight markets and just about managed to hold on to the numbers in the other three markets.

Lost circulation: Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata

  • Flat/marginal de-growth in the aggregate circulation of leading Hindi/Indian language dailies in FOUR of the top eight markets.

In Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore leading dailies in Hindi/Indian languages continued to grow strongly.

  • Circulation drop for Big newspapers in 2014–2015 was sharper than 2013–2014 (daily circulation of more than 75,000 as qualified by RNI)

Average circulation of Big newspapers decreased by 13,232 copies from 1,68,005 to 1,54,773 during 2014–15- a drop of 7.78%


Average circulation of Big newspapers decreased by 5,255 copies from 1,73,260 in 2012–2013 to 1,68,005 during 2013–14- a drop of 3.03%

What this also means is that the drop in circulation for big newspapers is not limited to leading brands in eight markets.

One reason that can be offered is that circulation tends to increase during national election campaigns and then dips post elections. But it may not fully explain the drop in circulation.

For one, the decibels on political and social debates did not reduce post the Lok Sabha elections.

And importantly as we observed, the Big newspapers witnessed a decline in average circulation in both pre and post-election periods.

The other reason could be that readers are finally shifting to digital news and India is no longer bucking the global trend!

It requires a study into the increasing online consumption of news in India.

We plan to do that soon.

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