The good, the bad and the ugly

Vanita  Kohli-Khandekar  The Indian news market is good and bad. It is good because it is probably one of the handful of markets in the world where newspapers are growing. Print, an older, more mature business is hugely profitable and well-run compared to the younger, chaotic, and completely unprofitable, news television one.

It is against this background that the insights from The State of the News Media 2015, released recently, make for interesting reading. This is the twelfth edition of Pew Research Center’s annual journalism project that focuses on the US market. The Pew Research Center is “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world,” says its website. Its annual report on the state of journalism in the US usually holds up a mirror to the rest of the world.

The three key findings?
One: thirty nine of the top 50 news sites in the United States get more people from the mobile phone. Yet it is the desktop visitors to these sites that tend to spend more time per visit. Nearly half of the web-using adults get their news from Facebook, which is driven by friends rather than algorithms. And eight of the top ten news entities in America are sites from ‘legacy media’ or established media firms. This — that of legacy media sites topping the audience charts online — has remained consistent for several years now.

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Closer home: A study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India says that more than 78 per cent of the 152 million Indian Internet users used the net through the mobile. The total ad spend on digital at R4,350 crore in 2014, is way behind TV (Rs 15,500 crore) or print (Rs 17,640 crore) but it is growing faster than either. Representation pic/Thinkstock

Two, while digital ad revenues grew 18 per cent to hit $50.7 billion (eMarketer), mobile accounts for 37 per cent of this, up from 25 per cent in 2013. And five firms — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL — still generate 61 per cent of all US digital ad revenues. Their dominance of both the US and global market — in audience share and revenues — is scary.

Top Digital News Entities

Three, and not surprisingly, newspaper circulation is down 3 per cent, network news is up 5 per cent and local news rose 3 per cent. Newspaper ad revenues kept to their downward slide and the industry now stands at a pathetic $19.9 billion, less than half its size 10 years ago. While newspapers are losing ad revenues, the gains in online revenues (and audiences) has not made up for the fall. That explains why newspapers across the United States continue to cut staff and jobs.

Where does India stand — a 2014 study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India says that more than 78 per cent of the 152 million Indian Internet users were using the net through the mobile. The total ad spend on digital at Rs 4,350 crore in 2014, is way behind TV (Rs 15,500 crore) or print (Rs 17,640 crore) but it is growing faster than either. Long way to go then.


The writer is a media specialist and author. Follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/vanitakohlik

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