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Print is the king

Print is the king
Highlights

Laying to rest all the doomsday predictions on the future of print media in the internet era, the latest findings of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reinforces the fact that print prevails at least in the Indian media market. 

Laying to rest all the doomsday predictions on the future of print media in the internet era, the latest findings of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reinforces the fact that print prevails at least in the Indian media market.

India continues to experience phenomenal growth in the reach of newspapers, though the developed countries witness their saturation and even a decline. The sales of newspapers and magazines in India registered a compound annual growth rate of 4.87 per cent over a 10 year period from 2006 to 2016.

Hindi and Telugu newspaper markets registered the highest growth rates. The impressive growth of print media is despite the fact that India is one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world. For long time now internet is considered to sound the death-knell to news in the print form.

The ABC report suggests several reasons for the triumphant performance of newspaper markets in India. These include competitive pricing, the power of the written word, the rise of literacy etc.

While newspapers are delivered at home for their consumers in India, the readers in US or UK have to go out to buy a newspaper. According to reliable estimates, Indian media and entertainment market is worth Rs 1,26,200 crore in which the share of the print is Rs 30,300 crore. But, the print industry is the most profitable segment of entire Indian media market.

The latest ABC data comes as a rude surprise to those who underestimated the viability and usefulness of the print product. The 24-hour television instead of killing the relevance of newspapers in print form created an appetite for news and the print media could satiate it.

The advent of digital revolution has once again started predicting the end of the print. But, Micheal Rosenwald in an article, “Print is dead. Long live print” in Columbia Journalism Review (Fall/Winter 2016) says: the idea that digital news will eventually become a decent business feels like a rumor.

The reality is this: No app, no streamlined website, no “vertical integration,” no social network, no algorithm, no Apple, no Apple Newsstand, no paywall, no soft paywall, no targeted ad, no mobile-first strategy has come close to matching the success of print in revenue or readership.

The new media researcher, Iris Chyi, in her book, ‘Trial and Error: U.S. Newspapers’ Digital Struggles Toward Inferiority’ argues that print edition still outperforms the digital product by almost every standard, be it readership, engagement, advertising revenue.

The Pew Research Center data shows that “readers coming directly to news sites stay less than five minutes and readers coming from Facebook are gone in less than two minutes” while the engagement with a printed newspaper is much longer indicating the relevance of the printed word in the digital era.

Reading experience in print is more immersive and enjoyable than online. This has implications for how readers consume news. Research also reveals that print provides a more linear, less distracting way of reading, which in turn increases comprehension. Print is therefore the king.

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