Online newspaper readership in India :: 67% readers are from smaller towns

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While print media is going strong, what’s interesting to see is the rise of digital /online newspaper consumption in smaller cities, which constitute close to 67% of readership!

The growing netizens in small towns is also being reinforced by JuxtConsult’s India Internet report:

“37% of the current Net users come from the top 10 metros, and more than half of the Indian online population comes from outside the eight largest cities. (i.e. tier II and III cities).”

What’s more interesting is that the online versions of Indian newspapers are read in 62 countries!!

Here is the analysis of online/digital newspaper readership:

The market segment:

  • The majority readership is in the age group of 21-40 years, and Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh top the readership list.
  • Professionals in the IT, education and media fields constitute almost half (48%) the readership.
  • Proportion of female readers is considerably smaller than male readers – only 13%.

online newspapers Indian digital media

So, what sort of news do Indians love to read online?

  • 24.3% readers read news stories on book/film/theatre reviews
  • 92% are interested in reading news about India
  • Business & economy (69%), politics (60%), and science & technology (60%). Sports news is favored only by 37% of the users (now I am not surprised with the cricket world cup results!)
  • 46% reads news about social development and 33% for environment
  • Columnists are read by 42%
  • The combined percentage of readers of Op-Ed articles (i.e. opposite the editorial page) is high at 97.7 %.

What surprised me?

  • 47% of readers visit online editions to access archival material! Now, that’s what I call the power of digitizing information. Newspapers have a life cycle of a day, but if you digitize them, they live forever!
  • 14 % use online newspaper as a tool to overcome homesickness (i.e. when they are out of the country)
  • Matrimonial advertisements in the online editions of newspapers do not seem to attract readers, even though the readership is dominated by youngsters. Only about 2.5 % readers visit the matrimonial section of online newspaper (and they go to paid matrimony sites for the same? – Isn’t that surprising?)

Source: Research conducted by UGC

Why is online readership a great sign for Indian Internet (to be more specific e-commerce industry)?
Because online newspaper readers are classified as power users. These power users spend double time on the Internet (19 hours a week) than the regular users. On an average, 82% of online newspaper readers purchase products online (source).

Compare the Indian online newspaper data with the US market (for Q2 ’07) (source)

  • On an average, 59 million i.e 37% of Internet users visited online newspaper sites
  • Users spent a combined 7.2 billion minutes browsing newspaper Web sites
  • US newspapers will now start quoting their online readership as well. Audience- FAX an initiative started by ABC aims to integrate newspaper readership into it’s circulation reports (link).

The newspaper business amazes me a lot – for the simple reason that the life cycle of a newspaper is just 10 hours (i.e. morning 7 – probably till 5 PM, or lesser than that) and stales out after that. Apart from being a low price commodity (priced at Rs. 1/2), the key in newspaper business is not just the content, but distribution as well.

The online version, apart from providing the latest updates (i.e. breaking news) should also offer personalization of news. Indiatimes just did it and I hope others jump in too.

How do you think online newspapers can improve (better content/less ads)? Do you really see a need for more personalization service?

Which is your favorite online newspaper? I prefer ToI – it has a very real look & feel; and somehow I am used to it. I hate to read HT (very cluttered).
What about you?

tags: indian online newspapers, myindiatimes

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