In conversation with Medianews4u.com, Mathrubumi Group Managing Director MV Shreyams Kumar reveals digital and content ambitions of the group.
How has the digital audience growth for Mathrubhumi in English and Malayalam? Is digital revenue commensurate with the viewership / readership?
We are going to give more emphasis on English and other languages as well on digital. We have an English edition, but we want to strengthen it further. Then we will look into other regional languages, probably Hindi also.
The readership on digital shot up during the pandemic period, but that can’t be taken as a benchmark. Yet, we have been quite steady.
Coming to the second part of the question, our experience is like anybody else’s. Digital (revenue) is growing but are publishers getting a fair share of it? There are issues at CCI and publishers are fighting for their fair share of revenue. It is a very complex situation.
Coming to the newspaper (print), the younger generation is more skewed towards digital. What are the efforts to gather the attention of youth or new readers towards print?
We don’t want to lose existing readers by taking a completely different route/look. At the same time, we bring in new elements which will attract the youth. There are so many social issues, and there is an impact newspapers can make when a particular story breaks. We are focusing a lot more on the ground issues – not just the peripheral way of looking at news but getting deeper into it. We are also focused on ensuring that we get a lot more exclusive news than others. We have to cater to different generations, that has to be done intelligently. We want to ensure that our product is compelling for people to buy.
The print newspaper industry was said to have incurred a huge loss (INS, Covid period) and this was expected to widen. There are also reports of print bouncing back now. Across industry, have circulation and ad revenue numbers reached pre-Covid levels? What is the case with Mathrubhumi?
We had two major floods in Kerala, then two years of the pandemic, and in between newsprint prices skyrocketed. Now the newsprint price has come down. Previously supply was a problem and we had to buy at higher prices. Now it has stabilised. Revenues have started increasing in the last two years. This year, as of now, we are on target. Circulation is steady now, and we are hoping for growth on that front.
Unlike in other markets, Kerala did better during the pandemic. They (markets outside Kerala) had a loss of 40 to 50 pc; we didn’t lose that much and started gaining slowly.
A lot of the younger generation doesn’t prefer newspapers – that is a problem. We are working a lot on content; that is where the emphasis is.
How are your print magazines like Grihalaksmi, Balabhoomi, Arogyamasika, Yathra etc. performing?
They are doing okay. With the advent of social media and digital, the news we are carrying in the magazines are a little stale. The magazine market doesn’t have a bright future; we survive.
You have Kappa channel which focuses on youth-oriented programmes. Any plans to enter into the GEC or OTT segment?
We don’t have plans to launch a GEC. When it comes to OTT, you have to invest a lot in content, which is not easy. We are getting into the production side which is called Kappa Studios. We are already shooting for a web series. I have produced a movie before. There is a lot of requirement for content, so I can get into that space. I don’t need to be a platform but can provide content for OTT players. That’s what we are looking into now.
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