-Monikangkan Barooah |
A few years ago, on the advent of Internet, people thought that the time has come to an end for the print media. The titles would be free over the net and in turn the print form would be gradually doomed. Things as projected have refused to come up to the expected lines and defying all odds, the print media continued to survive due to the emotional bonding with the reader along with the blending of the newsprint odour, the fill and with the morning cuppa. That’s how the print media survived with wobbly steps albeit slowly in a new digitized, globalised world along with its digital form.
Things have not worked quite well since then and the print media continued to decline, a process that has accelerated due to the pandemic that forced the closure of some shops. People, across the globe have cancelled their subscription due to the fear that the virus may ship in. However, there is growing number of people that has switched to online subscriptions and to read the titles on their tablets, smart phones and desktops or laptops. The internet has hammered the first blow to the print form and the pandemic has finally nailed it.
The back to back onslaught of Internet enabled digital media and Covid19 pandemic has led the print circulation of the titles severely affected. On the other hand the digital sales of the titles have been increased to an all time high, and thus it compensated the losses in print form by its digital gain. The virus somehow proved to be a blessing in disguise for the publishing houses as the cost is fixed for end numbers of digital copies. The shift of the subscribers from print to digital in an unprecedented manner perpetuated the traditional form of newspapers, albeit in a different dimension.
The availability of news and titles in different form has a tremendous impact on circulation and its subscription. Though the media houses are a bit secretive of their online subscription details, it is evident that many titles are selling more digital copies than their printed avatars. The print sales of ‘The Financial times’ are around one hundred thousand a day(100000/-day) whereas it has around one million (10,00000) digital subscribers. The Times sells around three hundred thousand (300000) in print and has roughly around Four hundred thousand (400,000) digital buyers. Likewise figures for the ‘Daily Telegraph’ are about Three hundred thirty thousand digital subscribers (330,000) and two hundred thousand (200,000) in Print. Back in Assam, according to the source, the hits of digital version of ‘The Assam Tribune’ has gone up to an optimum level, post Covid19. The Assam Tribune paper has on an average of around 20 million hits per month during and post covid19. This signifies that the digital subscribers has been ever increasing and would continue to grow in the coming days.
The economics of the digital versions are very attractive to the publishing houses because of its low cost. In the digital world there is no printing, distribution or the newsprint costs of the titles other than producing the content in a digital form. Once that is done, the extras will come straight to the pocket. Think of a situation where the breakeven point of a particular title is approx 100000 subscribers. Even if you double that number the costs of production will be remain same, since you don’t have to employ more people, buy news print of incur distribution charges. Profits will rise thereafter. So it turns out to be a good business to be in. The digital versions of titles are environment friendly too. It helps in reducing the use of newsprint thereby contributing to the nature immensely.
This is for sure that all print titles continue to lose its print circulation. No one can be certain that how far the printing presses continue to spin. But whatever happens, it is certain that the newspapers have their future in a new avatar- i.e. the digital form.