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Rural India accounts for 50% of active internet users: IRS data

Print and TV also recorded a marginal growth since 2017

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MUMBAI: Media Research Users Council (MRUC) chairman Ashish Bhasin, also the CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Greater South and chairman and CEO of India, has  continuously been mentioning that India is probably the only country where each media is growing—be it TV, or print, or digital. His claims once again found proof in the recently launched Indian Readership Survey Data (for Q1 2019), which shows that despite the sharpest increase being in the digital sector (as compared to data released in 2017), print and television have been holding strong to their positions, strengthening their reach.

The data combines Q2+Q3+Q4 data of IRS 2017 and Q1 fieldwork of IRS 2019 for a sample size of 3.24 lakh households. It indicates a 5 per cent rise in the active internet users in the last one month, when compared to the same period in 2017. While the rise in urban areas was 6 per cent, for rural areas it was 4 per cent. TV viewership and print readership (including newspapers and magazine) also showed a marginal growth. 

Internet penetration has been significant 

One interesting point highlighted in the report is that rural India now accounts for 50 per cent of the active internet users in India and every second person in urban India uses the web. Based on only 2019 Q1 unrolled data, the country now has 384 million active internet users.

IRS Technical Committee chairman Vikram Sakhuja attributed this rise to the advent of Jio that took internet to almost all the households in the country. Bhasin added that other parameters like increased disposable income, and education might also have contributed to the number, while addressing the press. 

Print is still synonymous to authenticity

“While the figures for newspaper readership appear to be almost same, it can be noted that there has been an increase as the sample size was increased in 2019 when compared to 2017, from 3.19 lakh to 3.24 lakh,” noted Sakhuja, as the report was unveiled to the media. 

The total readership saw a marginal increase from 36.8 per cent to 37.3 per cent. However, the average issue readership (AIR) has declined for Hindi and regional dailies, while it remained unchanged for English. The total readership for all the three categories saw a rise. 

The growth of print, despite the majority of population moving to digital mediums, might be surprising but the authenticity associated with the medium can be attributed to the trend, TRA Research CEO N Chandramouli told Indiantelevision.com. 

“Print medium is one of the most effective media platforms when it comes to reader's engagement and reach. It provides authentic facts which sometimes get suppressed by digital. Also, regional print media plays a significant role in today's time. 2018 was bit challenging for print players due to rise in printing cost and other government issues, but having said that, this newly released data clearly showcases the rise in newspaper readers,” he said. 

Bhasin and Sakhuja also noted during the press briefing that the millennial are making up a major chunk of the print users, as noted during the 2017 survey. 

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