Tuesday, February 07, 2012

DNA and HT ... Is their 'Readership' really high?


Talking of newspapers … in the past few months, I have seen a lot of ads by both, Hindustan Times and DNA, claiming their phenomenal growth in Mumbai competing with Times of India and others.

When I first saw these ads, I just smiled. But then over the last few months, they kind of got on my nerves. Do the guys at HT and DNA really think and believe in those ads?

Do they really believe that they have such a huge and phenomenal 'readership'?

Personally, I have no doubt about the number of newspapers they sell or deliver to households BUT I have a serious doubt on that being their 'readership' numbers?

The thing is; both DNA and HT have a subscription based distribution as compared to the monthly billing for other newspapers. Also, the subscription pricing is pretty attractive … leading to a pricing of less than 50 paise per day for newspaper. Now compare that to Rs. 2 to 4 or even 5 per day cost for some other leading newspapers in the city. So PRICE is definitely a factor BUT that in itself is not the reason which has contributed to the quick penetration of DNA and HT into the Mumbai market.

The real reason lies in the price of Raddi in Mumbai. Yeah !! The Raddi (old newspapers and other paper) which every household in Mumbai 'sells' to the ubiquitous Raddiwala - Raddi is priced anywhere between 8 or 9 Rs per kg …

Pick up just 10 days worth of DNA or HT and weigh them. That will tell you how much you would get for it from the Raddiwala and now consider the fact that it cost you only Rs. 5 (50 paise per day). Now you do the math for the whole year … 365 days ... and you may consider the special editions when the newspaper is heavier with special supplements etc.

THIS math was done by the housewives in houses across the city quite some time ago and hence the HUGE subscription numbers of DNA and HT. (Thing to note: When the housewives had calculated the cost versus raddi income; the raddi prices were around 6-7 only; and even then it was a real steal !!)

These prepaid newspapers are promptly delivered to countless homes where are placed in waiting for the raddiwala who would come at the end of the week / fortnight. Most of these are probably not even opened (and mind it … the raddiwala would be able to corroborate the mint condition of the newspapers they buy from households).

I would have believed the growing numbers if there would have been corresponding shrinking of the numbers for existing English dailies. But the shrink is marginal or very less compared to the increase AND I am sure people are not really reading 2 or 3 English dailies every day. No one has that kind of time. I think the decrease in the numbers for existing dailies is probably the real indicator of 'readership' of HT and DNA and not their sales numbers.

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