Despite the full-fledged unlocking of the economy, the newspaper industry has not been able to emerge from the loss caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While other mediums such as TV and digital have picked up quite well in terms of advertising spending, the print is likely to keep struggling.
According to top executives of the country’s largest newspaper groups, only 60-65% of pre-Covid circulation has come back in the case of English and business newspapers.
For Hindi and languages, the recovery has been slightly better with the circulation touching 80% of the pre-Covid levels.
In terms of revenue, the recovery continues to be a distant dream and a full recovery may not be possible ever, they said.
A top executive of a leading newspaper group told BestMediaInfo.com that advertising has been only 55% of the pre-Covid level.
“Advertising inventory was filled during the Diwali week, that too at discounted rates. But the post-Diwali numbers have been nothing less than disappointing,” the executive said.
This is evident from the fact that newspapers are still regularly accommodating supplements in the main book to save on newsprint cost as there seems to be very little advertising in them.
“The loss incurred because of Covid isn’t likely to be covered anytime soon. Unless the newspaper industry undertakes massive marketing campaigns and starts enrolling households under the year-long, low-cost schemes, circulation isn’t likely to improve further,” said another executive.
Some are of the view that the print adex size would reduce from Rs 20,000 crore in 2019 to Rs 13,000-15,000 crore in 2021 and may remain in the same range for a long time.
“This year is likely to see 40-50% less revenue when compared to 2019 print adex. In 2021, there might be slight recovery but the industry may not be able to reach the Rs 20,000-crore size again anytime soon,” he said, adding Covid-19 impacted newspaper reading habits of people and there has been a quicker transition to digital.
A leading media planner told BestMediaInfo.com that advertisers have reduced their advertising outlays and most of their money is now flowing into the higher ROI mediums such as TV and digital.
“I won’t say whatever print has lost in advertising has gone to TV or digital. A small portion would have but otherwise, it is just the marketers who have reduced their overall spends and, in the process, print with its low circulation during the pandemic has been the main casualty, especially the English publications,” the media planner said.