How is the print media recovering after the second wave of Covid?
The first quarter of fiscal year 2021-2022 has been difficult for the Indian newspaper industry due to the second wave of Covid-19. The next three months – July, August and September, however, were pretty positive in terms of ad and broadcast revenue.
Sources within leading Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar said the newspaper showed promising month-to-month growth and posted double-digit growth in the second quarter of fiscal 22 compared to the same period in 2019.
âAlmost all categories started to respond strongly from July. Traffic nationwide is increasing and advertising from segments such as OTT, grocery, delivery apps and edtech has increased after Wave 2, âan executive told BestMediaInfo.com who did not want to be quoted.
âWe had a strong acceleration in August, which was a good month for advertising. We have experienced robust growth in categories such as real estate, education, automotive, FMCG, jewelry, healthcare, BFSI industry, and more. This was strongly supported by the emerging categories. such as OTT, grocery and delivery apps, edtech. The result was that August ended with double-digit growth compared to August 2019. A few of our states had strong double-digit growth. Obviously, if we compare the growth compared to August 2020, it is multiple. But we don’t see 2020 in our 2021 monthly plan, âthe executive said.
âSeptember has also started very well and we have had one of the strongest Ganesh Chaturthi in many years,â said the executive. All of the categories mentioned above continue to gain momentum and are also seeing new types of advertising such as cryptocurrency.
With the vaccination campaign growing stronger in August and September, they expect a spectacular holiday season with all major markets consuming a lot, he said.
On the flip side, a senior executive at a major English newspaper said no newspaper could return to 100% of 2019 levels despite big growth numbers, as many people have moved from physical newspapers and magazines to digital versions. “There is no way that all readers who have switched to digital versions will return to physical copies. A 100% readership will never be back, not just for my newspaper but for any newspaper for that matter,” he said. -he declares.
Suresh Balakrishna, chief financial officer of The Hindu, said growth over the past three months has been exponential. âWe have reached 80-100% of 2019 levels and will maintain the same growth provided the third wave does not occur,â he said.
Last year, the months of April, May and June were completely wiped out. Compared to that, in April of this year they did pretty well, but the second wave then happened, he said.
“However, from a business point of view, the second wave was milder than the first,” he added.
During the first wave, there was this misconception that newspapers were spreading the virus. But by the time of the second wave, the myth was debunked. âTherefore, we did not see a serious impact on the readership during the second wave,â he explained.
As for activity after the second wave, it started to pick up from July and August was very good, he said. âAlmost every newspaper had a good August, but I think The Hindu especially had the best August,â Balakrishna said.
Abhishek Karnani, director of the Free Press Journal, said they had not only improved their readership, but also brought circulation back to the pre-pandemic era.
âCompared to last year, we are 50% higher in terms of revenue growth,â Karnani said.
The growth is mainly coming from the e-commerce sector, retail and BFSI, and they are quite optimistic about the season ahead, he added.
Verghese Chandy, vice president of marketing and ad sales, Malayala Manorama, said business is recovering faster after the second wave compared to the first wave.
There was complete uncertainty in the first wave and no one had a clue how to deal with it, he stressed.
âApril was very good and the lockdown started from May. May was very bad, in fact, lower than last year. But it started to recover from June and there was year-over-year growth in July. The statewide lockdown was lifted in the second week of August, and it showed a 30% increase in the month from a year ago. This represents nearly 84% of 2019, âhe stressed.
L Adimoolam, commercial and technical director of Dinamalar, said its business grew 40% month-on-month in the months following the second wave.
âWe don’t know when we will reach the 2019 level, but we have reached 70 to 80% of 2019,â he said.
MV Shreyams Kumar
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, MV Shreyams Kumar, managing director of Mathrubhumi newspaper, said printing worked very differently in the southern market. “Kerala is the only state where the overall reach of printing exceeds that of television. Luckily for us the holiday season debuts in Kerala with Onam and we can proudly say we did better than it did. August 2020, “he said.
Newspapers consistently believe that the impact of the second wave was lighter than that of the first wave, followed by a rapid recovery.