The situation for the print industry might get grimmer, as advertising volumes are expected to decline by 20%-25% in March due to the slowdown on the back of spread of the novel Coronavirus, according to industry estimates. As per EY, the print industry posted a decline of 3.4% to Rs 29, 511 crore from Rs 30,550 crore in 2018. Advertising revenue slumped by 5% in 2019 to Rs 20,615 crore as subscription grew two percent to Rs 9,006.6 crore in 2019. In fact, if the situation worsens, then advertising revenue of the print industry is expected to further decline in the first quarter that is between April-June period of FY22.“The industry was going through a soft period for some time, the situation has only gotten worse. Compared to last year March, this month print industry has posted a 20% decline in advertising,” Piyush Gupta, Group CFO, HT Media, told BrandWagon Online.
Regional players too have seen a drop in advertising from local businesses. “While national players have continued to advertise, in a city like Pune, regional ads have dropped by 15% in March this year, when compared to the same period last year,” Uday Jadhav, CEO, Sakal Media Group, noted. However, a few players such as Lokmat call the current situation ever-evolving. For Karun Gera, president – sales, Lokmat Media, so far the decline has been in single digit, but the scene can change drastically depending on the spread of the virus.
Nonetheless, some categories are expected to continue to spend. While on TV, old ads might return as shoots are prohibited currently, the print might see new and interesting ads being rolled out. “Sectors such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) which consists of essential items such as soaps, detergents, hand sanitizers, among others, besides fin-tech firms, edu-tech will continue to advertise. Additionally, government ads are expected to increase. Both Central and State government will use print to spread awareness about the virus and other services related to it,” a senior industry leader said, on condition of anonymity.
Industry analysts, however, pointed out that there is still time for the print industry to play catch-up in terms of reviving growth. “The print industry needs to reinvent itself. Rather than operating just as a newspaper company, the industry needs to focus on building ancillary services and revenue streams. Ashish Pherwani, media and entertainment leader, EY India, said. As per him, from building communities to creating a strong digital presence, creating a brand extension to starting classifieds with transactions are some of the areas that can be developed.