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IRS 2019 Q1: AIR grows in absolute numbers, degrowth recorded in terms of percentage of the universe

MRUC did not maintain uniformity and showed growth in TR and AIR on different parameters. Hence, TR showed the growth of print while AIR showed degrowth

The Average Issue Readership (AIR) of newspapers in India has always been used for media planning and buying and hence it was the metric always reported until 2017 when The Media Research Users Council (MRUC) only shared the topline numbers to the media on the basis of total readership (TR). However, the AIR numbers were either degrowing or stagnant from last two surveys in 2014 and 2017.

Unlike the previous survey, MRUC released the AIR numbers on April 26 along with TR but projected the growth in its announcement on the basis of TR only. With the release of 2019 Q1 data, TR witnessed a growth of 4.4% over the previous survey and reached 42.5 crore from 40.7 crore in IRS 2017. The growth was 4.7% in Urban with a total readership of 20.2 crore, up from 19.3 crore, and 4.2% in Rural with 22.3 crore of TR, up from 21.4 crore.

The total readership stood at 39.4% of the total universe of 107.85 crore in 2019 Q1, 0.5% up from the previous survey over the total universe of 104.6 crore.

MRUC clearly claimed the growth in TR on the basis of the absolute number of readers. In terms of percentage over the universe, the council could not have shown any growth.

The size of the universe is 107,85,43,000 (108 crore) individuals of 12+ years of age, up from 104,60,04,000 (105 crore) in 2017. The current size of the Urban universe is 38 crore against 70 crore in Rural.

But in the next slide of its presentation, MRUC did not maintain uniformity and showed the growth in other three metrics (AIR, which is yesterday’s recall, three-day recall and seven-day recall) on the basis of percentage over the universe. On this parameter, the readership on the basis of yesterday recall showed a decline of 0.5%, 0.4% on three-day recall and 0.1% on seven-day recall for any dailies. converted the data into absolute numbers and the AIR of any dailies stood at 17,36,45,423 (16.1% of the universe) in Q1 2019 while it was 17,36,36,664 (16.6% of the universe) in IRS 2017. Thus, the degrowth in AIR was not visible if MRUC had maintained uniformity in presenting the growth in TR and AIR.

The AIR of Hindi, English and Regional newspapers was 18,01,16,681 (16.7% of universe) in Q1 2019, up from 17,99,12,688 (17.2% of universe) in IRS 2017.

The AIR of Hindi dailies was at 7.66 crore (7.1% of the universe) against 7.53 crore (7.2% of the universe) in 2017. English dailies recorded an AIR of 1.3 crore (1.2% of the universe) in 2019 Q1 vs 1.25 crore (1.2% of the universe). The average issue readership of regional dailies was at 9 crore (8.4% of the universe) compared with 9.2 crore (8.8% of the universe) in the previous survey.

In total readership, Hindi dailies grew by 5.68% to record a TR of 18.6 crore, up from 17.6 crore in 2017. For Hindi, the maximum growth came from Rural as it added 60 lakh readers to reach 10.6 crore readers, up 6% from 10 crore in the previous survey. In Urban, Hindi dailies grew by 5.3% adding 40 lakh readers to reach 8 crore over 7.6 crore in IRS 2017.

English dailies grew by 10.7% to reach a TR of 3.1 crore, up from 2.8 crore out of which 2.6 crore are in Urban and 0.5 crore in Rural. All the growth came in from Urban as the absolute number of readers grew by 13% from 2.3 crore in IRS 2017.

Regional dailies grew by 3.9% and recorded a TR of 21.1 crore, up from 20.3 crore. 2.9% growth came from Urban as regional dailies recorded a TR of 10.6 crore in the current survey over 10.3 crore in IRS 2017. 5% growth came from Rural to reach 10.5 crore in Q1 2019 from 10 crore in the previous survey.

Penetration of media in IRS 2019 Q1:

The penetration of newspapers remains at 39% of the universe with 53% in Urban and 32% in Rural. The Rural penetration has gone up by 1% over the previous survey.

Interestingly, magazines’ penetration has gone up to 6% of the current universe from 5% in the previous survey. The growth again has come from Rural which contributes 4% now against 3% in the previous survey while the Urban penetration remains stagnant at 9%.

Magazines showed a healthy growth of 11.5% in IRS 2019 Q1 over the previous survey’s results released in IRS 2017. The total readership of magazines across all the languages now stands at 8.7 crore in the current survey compared with 7.8 crore in IRS 2017. Urban markets have a total readership of 4.9 crore in Q1 2019 vs 4.5 crore in the previous survey while total readership in Rural stood at 3.8 crore vs 3.4 crore in 2017.

Internet penetration grew to 24% of the total universe from 19% in the previous survey. The penetration in Urban has reached 39% vs 33% in 2017 while Rural penetration has grown to 16% vs 12% in the previous survey.

Considering the Q1 data only, the internet penetration stands at 36% of the total universe, which is 38 crore 47 lakh (384mn) active internet users. While Rural India accounts for 50% of active internet users at 19 crore 27 lakh (192mn), it has immense opportunity to grow as the Rural penetration is still 28% of the total Rural universe. In Urban, the penetration is 51% of Urban universe with 19 crore 20 lakh (192mn) active internet users.

While the overall penetration of radio is showing 1% growth with 20% of the total universe, the Urban and Rural penetration remained stagnant 28% and 15%, respectively.

The Q1 2019 also revealed that there was 1% increase in online newspaper readership across All India, Urban, 50L+ markets and NCCS A1 readers. 5% of the total universe read newspaper online while this share is 9% in Urban markets, 12% in 50L+ markets and 27% among NCCS A1 readers.

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