Indian Magazine Market Overview

Indian Magazine Market Overview


Print Media in India is more than a century old and a well-established industry. The print industry mainly comprises of newspaper and magazine publishing. Book publishing is smaller but significant in terms of revenue. Even though it's a mature industry, new magazines are being launched every year. India has been one of the fastest growing world economies since the past three years. Robust consumption and rising income levels have helped the growth of print media. New titles that focus on niche topics continue to launch in the market. The revenue sources for a magazine are subscription, single copy sales and advertisement. Approximately 73 percent of revenue comes from advertising and 27 percent from circulation.

Challenging Times

The magazine industry is going through a tough phase in India just like in other countries. Newspapers have added supplements to their main issue and infringed on the content covered by magazines earlier. Television channels have launched in different genres that didn't exist a few years back. And with the increased penetration and adoption of the Internet in the country, more people are now consuming news and stories on different topics on the web and mobile. There is still a demand for high quality print content and magazines need to deliver on that need to avoid losing market share to other mediums. In addition, they also need to explore and distribute their content on the web and mobile platforms to give choice to their subscribers to consume content from anywhere and at any time.

India has 49,000 publications, but annual revenues total just $1.1 billion. Most lack technology, marketing, and capital to grow which has resulted in a handful of publications dominating the market with the Times of India Group being the market leader. Distribution is critical for a magazine since it has to be readily available and marketed to consumers. Big publications have strong distribution network set up.

  • Retail: magazines are available in retail outlets for sale. The retailer gets a commission on the sale price.
  • Subscription: publisher signs up subscribers directly or through partners and delivers the issues in mail.
  • Selective Distribution: Special sponsored copies are distributed in airplanes and hotels.

With the growth coming from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, magazines have to expand their distribution channel aggressively in those locations and localize content where needed.

The print industry in India is highly fragmented due to the large number of local languages. Regional language publications own 46 percent of the market share, Hindi language publications cover 44 percent and the remaining 10 percent is served by English publications. The primary penetration of English language magazines currently is in metros and urban centers though the growth is widening to smaller cities as the education and income levels increase among the middle class.

With the opening up of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, several international publishers are aggressively entering the market and this trend is expected to continue.

The Opportunity

There's little doubt about India's market potential. According to a national survey, 248 million literate adults still don't read any publication. Readership of newspapers and magazines is up 15% since 1998 to 180 million. It's a reflection of a younger, more educated population, especially in smaller cities.

Now that the doors to foreign investors in print media have been thrown open, one can expect activity to pick up in this sector. Companies such as Pearson, Haymarket, Time India, News Corp., and Dow Jones have eyed India's big, English-reading market. ICICI Ventures, which holds stakes in three media companies, is quite bullish about the industry's prospects.

Trade books offer the best openings, since a higher FDI has been permitted in them. Britain's Haymarket Publishing Group already has ties to Autocar India, with 80,000 subscribers. Haymarket doesn't own a stake, but helps with research and management. Now, it can invest, provide funds to print more copies, market more strongly and use Autocar as a platform to bring its other brands. Bombay's Tata Infomedia, a $30 million publisher of yellow pages and trade magazines, also has already started to solicit business with foreign companies. The Tata Group sold the Indian edition of Reader's Digest magazine, making it the first publishing property offered for sale since the government had scrapped the ban on foreign investment in the print media.

As expected, there have been various anti-FDI lobbies, which are strongly voicing protests against foreign investment in Indian Print Media. Their major contention is that foreign forces might begin dominating the content of Indian publications, which is detrimental to national interests. An extreme view given by a former Indian Prime Minister is that powered by their immense finances and goaded by an ambition to control the emerging Indian market, the foreign monopolies will impose their own agenda of ultimately controlling Indian politics. But there is more than meets the eye. The English-language media, fearing competition from players with deeper pockets, has been resisting this move by the Government. And from a marketing point of view, the English press reaches the most lucrative segment of society - the 300-million-strong middle class. International players are seen as a threat to market share.

The opening up of the print media sector to foreign investment is a bold decision by the Government, considering the unwillingness of so many past Governments to do the same. It is a policy decision that could have a very positive impact on the sector, provided the Indian publications generate enough interest and exhibit their true potential to the overseas investors. It could enrich the quality of the magazines and other publications.

Recent Developments

  • There were several niche titles that were launched in 2008 and 2009. A slew of foreign players launched their India editions.
    • The most notable magazine launched was Forbes India in May 2009 by Network18 and Forbes Media.
    • RPG Group's 'Open', a weekly magazine aimed at evolved Indian readers who are well informed, well traveled and identify themselves as global citizens. It is available in 12 cities.
    • Pathfinder Publishing's maiden title Career 360, a monthly publication focusing on career advise.
    • Technology Review, a technology magazine launched in India jointly by MIT's Technology Review magazine and CyberMedia India Ltd.
    • Hearst Corporation's Harper's Bazaar, a fashion and beauty magazine in partnership with India Today.
    • The re-launch of Delhi Press' The Caravann, a fortnightly magazine that covers politics, culture, arts and literature.
    • Images Group's FNL and Salon and Living etc., an Indian edition of international homes magazine.
    • Gill India Communications' What Women Want, a woman's magazine for women aged between 20 and 45 years and 'Lifestyle Living', a lifestyle magazine dedicated to those with a creative lifestyle.
    • The trend for foreign magazines to launch their India edition is expected to continue in 2010 as well, with BBC's Lonely Planet magazine having launched recently.
  • Newspapers and publications have reduced the number of pages to cut print and production cost. Magazines have discontinued supplements, which were earlier distributed free of cost with the main product.

Foreign Investment in Indian Print Media - Role of Government

The process of economic liberalization in India, which began more than a decade ago, has taken another significant step by opening up the print media sector. With the UPA Government scoring an emphatic win in the Lok Sabha elections, the media industry got an open-minded Information & Broadcast Minister in Ambika Soni who has sent positive signals to the industry. Earlier in 2009, the Government gave its nod to an increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in facsimile editions of foreign newspapers. The Government also announced customs duty exemption on newsprint.

In December 2008, the Indian Government unveiled a set of guidelines to allow Indian editions of foreign news and current affairs magazines 26 per cent FDI as long as all key executives and editorial staff are Indian. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has for the first time given approval for the publication of the facsimile edition of foreign newspapers by allowing ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and ‘The Wall Street Journal Asia’ in India. Wall Street Journal India Publishing Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Jones and Company Inc, would bring out these newspapers. The government has announced customs duty exemption on newsprint for the newspaper and magazine publishing industry. These concessions were announced in February 2009 in view of the economic slowdown and the high newsprint cost which spiraled close to 25%.

Advertisement Revenue

Breakdown by Region

  • North: 23%
  • South: 38%
  • East: 9%
  • West: 26%
  • National: 4%

The ad revenue sources are national, local, classified, pre-printed (inserts) and advertorials. The CPM rate for magazines is lower than television and the audience is more targeted.

Ad Industry Size in India

Year 2006

Ad Industry

Amount ($ Million)















Year 2011 (Projected)

Ad Industry

Amount ($ Million)















Key Players

Top 25 English Magazines in India

  • India Today
  • Readers Digest
  • General Knowledge Today
  • Competition Success Review
  • Filmfare
  • Wisdom
  • Stardust
  • Outlook
  • Diamond Cricket Today
  • Business Today
  • Femina
  • The Sportstar
  • Competition Refresher
  • Health & Nutrition
  • The Week
  • Auto Car
  • Outlook Business
  • Woman's Era
  • Business India
  • Champak
  • Outlook Traveller
  • Business World
  • Digit
  • Society
  • Frontline

Top English Magazines by Segment

  • Current Affairs, Culture & Politics
    • Outlook
    • The Week
    • India Today
    • Frontline
    • Tehelka
    • Reader's Digest
  • Society & Women
    • Femina
    • India Today Plus
    • Woman's Era
    • Verve Online
    • Desh Videsh
    • Teens Today
    • India Line
    • Little India Overseas India Magazine
    • South Asian Life
  • Entertainment
    • Filmfare
    • G Magazine
    • Screen
    • Chitralekha
    • Music Today - India Today Publication
    • Deccan Chronicle - Cinema News
    • Bollywood Online
    • Planet Bollywood Gossip
    • Bollywood News Daily
    • Stardust
  • Sports
    • Sport Star
    • ESPN
    • Cricket Info
    • Khel
    • Diamond Cricket Today
  • Fashion
    • Vogue (UK)
    • Cosmopolitan
    • Cosmo Girl
    • Fashion Planet
    • Glamour
    • Harper's Bazaar
  • Business & Financial
    • Capital Market (Stock Market)
    • Business Today
    • Business Standard
    • Economic Times
    • Financial Express
    • Commercenet India
    • Trade India
    • India Vibes Online
    • Sourcing Hardware
    • Business India
    • Outlook Business
  • Computer & Electronics
    • PC Quest
    • Electronics For You
    • Dataquest
    • PC World
    • Popular Science
    • Popular Mechanics
    • Computer World
    • Cyber India Online
    • Informatics
    • Silicon India
    • Voice & Data
  • Travel & Leisure
    • Budget Travel
    • Discover India Magazine
    • Gourmet Travel
    • Outlook Traveler
    • Travel Plus
    • Wanderlust
    • Lonely Planet
    • Conde Nast Traveller
  • Children
    • Amar Chitra Katha
    • Spiderman
    • Competition Master
    • Odyssey Magazine
    • Competition Success Review
    • Wisdom
  • Fashion & Lifestyle
    • i-D
    • Another Magazine
    • M Magazine
    • Vogue
    • Dazed and Confused
    • View Point
  • Literature
    • Darpan
    • India Star
    • Raga Net
    • Meghdutam

Average Issue Readership (AIR) Analysis (2008 vs. 2009)

The Average issue readership numbers have been on a decline due to increased competition from free content on the Internet and Mobile platforms.

  • India Today is the highest read English magazine in the county with an AIR of 1,955,000, which is an 8.7 percent decline in its readership.
  • Reader’s Digest has seen a 2.1 percent drop in its AIR and is now at 1,327,000.
  • General Knowledge Today has dropped by 8.5 percent, and is now at 1,121,000.
  • Competition Success Review has an AIR of 766,00 and has seen a 3.5 percent drop.
  • Outlook with an AIR of 533,000 has seen a 7 percent drop.
  • Filmfare is the new entrant in the top ten list with an AIR of 490,000.
  • Wisdom has seen a 4.6% drop with an AIR of 455,000.
  • Stardust has slipped down the list with a 11.4 percent decrease. The current AIR is at 388,000.
  • Diamond Cricket Today has an AIR of 378,000, which is a 5.5 percent decline.
  • Competition Refresher has increased by 37.3% and its AIR is now at 335,000.
  • The Week has dropped by 4.2 percent and the AIR is 322,000.
  • Femina has dropped by 4 percent and now has an AIR of 309,000.
  • Business Today has dropped by 12 percent in its AIR down to 287,000.
  • Health & Nutrition has an AIR of 250,000, which is a 11.3 percent decline.
  • The Sportstar has seen 14.8 percent drop in its AIR and now stands at 242,000.
  • Business India stands at 222,000, which is a 7.5 percent decline in its AIR.
  • Woman’s Era has seen an AIR of 200,000, which is a 4.8 percent decline.
  • Auto Car had a 13.1 percent growth to an AIR of 199,000.
  • Champak has seen a 4 percent decrease with an AIR of 193,000.
  • Business India has an AIR of 166,000, which is a decline of 18.6 percent.
  • Business World has an AIR of 165,000.
  • Outlook Traveller has seen an AIR of 146,000.
  • Digit has seen a 5.8 percent decline.
  • Society has seen a growth of 1.7 percent.
  • Frontline has seen a 20.8 percent decline.
  • Tinkle – Amar Chitrakatha is one of the few who have seen a 0.9 percent growth.
  • Femina Girl saw a growth of 6.2 percent.
  • Auto India like many others has seen a 18.7 percent decline in its AIR.
  • P C Quest and Outlook Money have both seen a decline of 17.4 percent and 24.3 percent respectively.
  • Business and Economy has seen a 6.5 percent growth with an AIR of 82,000.
  • Inside Outside has seen a 17.3 percent while Cosmopolitan has seen a 61.4 percent growth.
  • Overdrive has dropped by 23.7 percent.
  • The Telegraph in Schools has grown by 72.5 percent with an AIR of 69,000.
  • New Woman has seen a drop of 9.2 percent while Magic Pot has an AIR of 58,000.
  • Time has seen a growth of 3.6 percent.
  • Cine Blitz has dropped by 5.7 percent while Elle and Savvy have grown by 29.7 percent and 13 percent respectively.


  • PWC – Indian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2009
  • Indian Readership Survey – 2009
  • Association of Indian Magazines – AIM
  • Referred to News Articles and Press Releases for 2009 & 2010

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