Mid-Day shuts Delhi & Bengaluru editions, to focus on Mumbai

06 Dec,2011

 

 

By Rishi Vora

 

After having tried out the Delhi and Bengaluru markets for a few years now, MiD-Day has finally decided to shut its editions in the two metros. The focus, as company officials inform, will be on Mumbai from now on, where the idea is to increase the paper’s circulation and enhance profitability.

 

Mr Manajit Ghoshal, MD and CEO, Mid-Day Infomedia said “Advertising revenue in the two markets was on the decline, and so we have now decided to focus on our Mumbai edition.”

 

Addressing the staff, he wrote in a mail on Monday evening, “It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce the closure of MiD-Day – Delhi and MiD-Day – Bangalore editions. Tomorrow’s issue will be the last issue for both the editions. This has been necessitated by the prolonged losses we had to incur on these editions. The idea behind starting these editions was to establish these brands in these cities and make a difference in the lives of the citizens there. We had begun well and were appreciated for the quality of product we put out. However, in a corporate scenario, the books need to be balanced. Due to the ever increasing competition in the print media space, the funds required for breakeven in these cities kept escalating. Finally, we had to take this call. We will however, continue to maintain a news bureau in Delhi and our sales offices in Bangalore and Delhi.

 

“By cutting our losses in Delhi and Bangalore editions, we will be able to bolster our circulation in Mumbai. Apart, from the plan to channel these investments, Jagran group (our parent company) will invest a large sum in boosting MiD-Day’s circulation in Mumbai. This will give our sales guys across the country to pitch Mumbai MiD-Day to clients and agencies in a new light. We need to now concentrate on building brand MiD-Day in Mumbai and monetizing Mumbai MiD-Day’s large increase in circulation and in this our sales colleagues in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune will have to play a significant part. Gujrati MiD-Day and Inquilab continue to go from strength to strength. We are increasing the circulation of GMD at a brisk pace and will continue to do so. Inquilab has flourished in the north and we now have 14 editions in all and are far ahead of any competition in the Urdu space.

 

“MiD-Day Pune is an extension of MiD-Day Mumbai just as the Pune city is an extension of Mumbai. MiD-Day Pune will continue to run at an ever increasing pace and we will be monitoring the Pune media market keenly to spot opportunities to improve the circulation of MiD-Day Pune.

 

“We will continue to invest aggressively in our digital properties as we believe that this is a medium whose time has come.

 

While the shutting of the Delhi edition has been rumoured for a while, the same cannot be said for Benguluru. A senior member from the MiD-Day Benguluru office who did not wished to be named said that the letter took everyone by surprise.

 

The paper was launched in the garden city in 2006. On why the edition failed, Mr Anil K Sathiraju, AVP and Head – Mudra Max Bengaluru said, “MiD-Day is a Mumbai paper, positioned as the traveller’s paper. The reason it didn’t work in Bengaluru is before it was launched, there were newspapers that had been in the market for ages and MiD-Day came with a different positioning which wasn’t right for a market like Benguluru.” He further added that the paper’s stagnant circulation was an indication that brand MiD-Day wasn’t very popular among readers, which led to a greater perception problem.

 

The Delhi edition, as is known, was first launched in 1986, and within three years of launch, it was sold to industrialist Lalit Suri’s family. Then again in 2006, it went up for sale and was bought back by Mid-Day Multimedia. Madison Media CEO Ms Basab Datta Chowdhury feels that it was purely on the basis of market reality that the Jagran Group chose to shut the Delhi edition. “It’s a call that you need to take. If a product is not delivering as per expectations, and if you feel that shutting shop is the only way, then the sooner you do it, the better it is. The paper tried its best in Delhi, it didn’t work out. It’s doing well in Mumbai, so the decision to focus there.”

 

Citing similar reasons is Mr Sundeep Nagpal, Director of Stratagem Media and a veteran planner who has been following the print media (and MiD-Day specifically) closely. In fact, he is of the opinion that the daily could have done better in its marketing efforts, especially in Benguluru to increase circulation and readership. Mr Nagpal said, “The scope for a No 4 or No 5 newspaper in any language category, to generate both readership or advertising revenue, especially in a cosmopolitan market/ metro, is quite minimal. Both, Delhi and Bengaluru were already dominated by giant groups like TOI, HT, and even Deccan Herald, not to mention others like Indian Express etc. And so they proved to be the big hurdles for Mid-Day, despite the fact that Mid-Day was always supposed to be an evening paper. Also, given the landscape of the public transport in these cities, vis-a-vis that in Mumbai, the scope for Mid-Day to find traction as a commuter’s paper, was also considerably lower than that in Mumbai. And lastly, as a late entrant in these markets, the paper also required very aggressive promotion, perhaps of the likes that we saw in the case of DNA and Hindustan Times in Mumbai.”

 

The recent IRS figures (2011, Q2) indeed don’t show a good picture. The papers average issue readership in Delhi stood at 11,000, while in Benguluru, it was 7,000 (see table). Now that the two non-performing markets have been shut, and with investments to pretty much go to Mumbai, it will be interesting to see how the paper picks up on circulation in the city and whether it is able to pose a greater challenge to the market leaders.

 

 

Lock image: Nuttakit

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