English magazines account for only 5-7% of the Rs 9,000 cr of print ad revenue.
With the government easing entry norms for international magazines, a slew of foreign magazines in both the news and non-news genre are making a beeline to enter the Indian market next year. These include Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Inc, Technology Review, Playboy, and Business Week, among others.
International magazine groups including BBC Magazines, Technology Review Inc (an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Playboy Enterprises Inc, and Hearst Communications were among those evaluating their Indian foray, sources in the magazines industry said.
The Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), the apex body of Indian magazine publishers, is flooded with queries from these international magazines on the Indian magazine market for the last few weeks, according to a source at AIM.
“While Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire from Hearst Communications Inc are almost certain to enter the Indian market, others including BBC Magazines, Mansueto Ventures and Playboy are serious about having a local presence,” said a senior executive of a leading magazine company, which is also an AIM member.
Though the advertising revenue is heavily skewed towards the English language magazines, the growth has hit a plateaue, according to AIM.
Currently, of the Rs 9,000 crore of advertising revenue that the print medium generates annually, the English magazines account for only 5-7 per cent of it, while it’s far less for the regional language magazines, sources say.
“The English language magazines will continue to get a higher share in the media plan of advertisers and that is why publishers of international magazines in English language are eyeing the Indian market,” says Anurag Batra, MD and editor-in-chief, exchange4media group, which runs a trade portal on advertising, marketing and media apart from publishing monthly and weekly magazines in the same domain. “We would look at launching specialised magazines from April, both in business-to-business and business-to-consumer space,” Batra said.
The English magazine market is now buzzing with action after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) eased the norms of foreign news magazines as part of its print media policy review. Last month, the ministry allowed the Indian companies to not only publish Indian editions of foreign news magazines in the country but also gave its permission to insert local news and local advertisements in any such magazines.
According to experts, this move means the companies that are registered under the Indian Companies Act 1951 can not only apply for permission to reproduce these magazines locally (instead of importing them) but can also insert local news and local advertisements.
Currently, the local editions of international news magazines like Forbes and Fortune are already in place and will begin production very soon. Others like Newsweek, Fortune and Harvard Business Review are already available in the country but through their distribution arrangement leading publishers making them expensive. The new norms on foreign news magazine is aimed at making these magazines affordable.
According to sources, the well-known American men’s magazine Playboy may also enter the domestic market with a toned-down version. It is known to publish short stories and interviews with notable public figures apart from other things. Hearst Communications Inc, the publisher of specialised women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire, is also entering the Indian market very soon with its titles like Esquire and Harpar’s Bazaar.
6 months ago