Google News Initiative has unveiled the findings of a research report conducted by Kantar. The report - titled ‘Indian Languages - Understanding India's Digital News Consumer’ - captures the distinct news content consumption preferences and behaviours of the online Indian language news consumer in India.
The effort is intended to serve as an informed searchlight for publishers and advertisers seeking insights about how to engage with this valuable audience to build sustainable offerings.
Kantar conducted more than 64 qualitative discussions across 16 cities, and more than 4600 in person interviews in 43 urban cities across 14 states from November 2022 until March 2023.
Covering eight languages viz Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, both male and female respondents above the age of 15 from NCCS A, B, C and D/E, the report presents comprehensive insights about Indian language digital news consumers.
Breaking the myth of a monolithic Indian language consumer
The Indian language news consumer is a richly diverse group, in sharp contrast to oft-held perceptions of a monolithic, homogeneous “regional” consumer. With 1 in 2 Indian languages internet users consuming news in India, the report highlights that consumers with different language preferences also show differing content preferences.
For instance, while entertainment, crime and national or state or city headlines are top core news genres that readers prefer, readers of Malayalam news have a higher preference for international news and education, while Bengali readers prefer sports news.
An Indian language consumer uses as many as 5.05 platforms on an average to access news online with YouTube (93%), social media (88%) and Chat apps (82%) emerging as popular pathways to news. 45% online news users in Indian languages discover news via news publishers' websites or apps.
An evolved and valuable cohort
Online Indian language news readers are more evolved and affluent, as compared to overall Indian language internet users. The Indian language news consumer shows a markedly increased propensity for online transactions (UPI, shopping and OTT). Also, 1 in 7 (15%) users are ready to pay for news online and this figure is 1.5 times (22%) higher among those users who consume news on publisher websites /apps.
For news publishers, the Indian language news user represents new areas of opportunity. The report is designed to help newsrooms prioritise better and inform content strategies to index on relevant content areas for different languages. Some areas of opportunity across content, platform and strategy that the report’s findings highlight include:
● Fulfilling the growing interest in relevant hyperlocal news: Driven by community and connection, 7 in 10 users consume hyperlocal news. This is most predominant in Hindi and Gujarati news readers.
● Designing relevant bundles, offers that provide coverage to friends and family, fact checked content and personalisation features to entice users to pay for Indian language news. Monthly fixed payment and quarterly fixed payment could collectively capture 3 in 5 consumers.
● Investing in content strategies for short-form and long-form content to work in tandem: Consumers interact with an array of video durations with both ‘short’ bite-sized content and ‘lengthy’ detailed analysis forming a part of the Indian language news consumers’ repertoire.
Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Director - B2B and Technology, Kantar, said, “The Indian language news consumer has traditionally always been considered less affluent and as having less of an appetite for complex content, as compared to the English language news consumer. This study shatters that myth — the language news consumer is evolved, urban, diverse and demonstrates a willingness to pay digitally. This can unlock enormous opportunity for publishers and advertisers.”
Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice-President, Google India, said, “In a world where content can be translated into multiple Indian languages at scale, the opportunity with Indian language content, unconstrained by geography, is no longer regional but global. Content businesses including digital news publishers have the potential to unlock new growth avenues by better engaging with an evolved and affluent cohort of Indian language digital news consumers. As a growing digital economy, we need to come together and build new propositions and brands across mediums to engage with consumers who are seeking authentic, reliable and high-quality content. All the shifts we’ve spoken about today are pointing us towards the future of news that is still evolving and we, as Google, are here to support this transition.”
Durga Raghunath, Head of India News Partnerships, Google, said, “As the progressive shifts in the news landscape from offline to online continue, regional language content has been emerging as the overwhelming choice for consumption on the internet. At Google, we remain committed to collaborating deeply with the industry to facilitate this shift to digital through investment, skills building and insights. And, through our latest effort, partnering with Kantar we’re confident that these nuanced insights will help support the industry to shape sharper product strategies to index on relevant areas for different languages, and help newsrooms prioritise better.”
The full report can be accessed by clicking on this link.