Mid-Day has been cash-flow positive even during these testing times: Apurva Purohit

Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Group
Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Group

As the world gradually comes to terms with a new normal, news consumption patterns are also seeing a transformation. The only English tabloid in India to register 4 per cent growth in readership in the last quarter of 2019-2020 (Source: IRS Q3 results), Mid-Day has been a sturdy and reliable news source for 41 years. Staying one step ahead, Mumbai’s favourite newspaper has now added yet another string to its bow by launching its interactive digital tabloid on mobile. For the first time ever, the newspaper will be available for a convenient page-by-page reading experience on smartphone, with additional multi-media features.

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Mid-Day has added to its loyal print readership by reaching 10 crore online users in the last three months, who will now enjoy an enhanced Mid-Day for just Re 1 per day. Exclusive news breaks, entertainment features, leisure and around town coverage and local sports reportage come alive with a smooth swipe of pages, animated visual vocabulary and influencer videos. Mid-Day’s digital tabloid aims to be the one-stop shop for all things #MadeInMumbai.

In conversation with Adgully, Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Group, speaks about the strong digital push, keeping the print editions strong in these times, increasing the reach and much more.

What was the objective behind taking Mid-Day the digital way and what is unique about this new digital tabloid? Any additional features that you would like to share?

When the lockdown was initiated, it was tough to get the physical newspapers to everybody’s homes since we had to ensure safety of both our readers and vendors. In such a scenario, the audience’s reading behaviour switched and we witnessed a surge in e-paper consumption. To ensure that Mumbai’s favourite tabloid was still available for its readers, Mid-Day came up with the innovative idea of distributing PDFs of the e-paper via WhatsApp and Telegram. We have already seen a good adoption rate for the PDR version, with users eagerly waiting on the WhatsApp channel every day to receive copies. We wanted to take this experience to the next level and provide a seamless experience for our audience. Thus, the Mid-Day digital tabloid was born.

Mid-Day digital tabloid is India’s first newspaper ever launched with multimedia features. For the first time in the print industry, Mid-Day is providing a visual experience and is bringing alive Mumbai for its readers. Exclusive news breaks, entertainment features, leisure and around town coverage and local sports reportage, along with animated visual vocabulary, influencer videos and interactive ads, come alive with a smooth swipe of pages. None of the other newspapers have ever offered an interactive newspaper till date. We have been receiving amazing response from across the nation and are very excited to take the reading experience a notch above.

The Mid-Day was already available online, so will that version be upgraded with this new Digital tabloid launch or will both the versions be there in the market?

We have transitioned the old e-paper into this new and enhanced digital tabloid. The website will continue to function as it does. This digital tabloid is aimed at providing an enhanced reading experience to our existing readers of the Mid-Day newspaper and whoever would be interested in an experience similar to what a newspaper gives. The interactive digital tabloid is an apt amalgamation of leveraging technology and putting reader preference first in the most enjoyable experience. It is just like reading a real newspaper, but only on mobile!

You have priced the digital tabloid at Re 1, while your hard copy is priced at Rs 8, so do you see more and more readers shifting to the digital version from the traditional print tabloid?

Mid-Day’s readership has traversed to its audience beyond Mumbai. With the Mid-Day digital tabloid, we are offering the best product by way of an unbeatable experience at the most compelling price point. Mostly other players offer such products at a minimum of Rs 99 per month, while we are offering it an unbelievable price of Re 1 per day. However, Mid-Day’s print paper will continue to exist as it has its own loyal readership. With this digital tabloid, we are providing an enhanced reading experience for people who want their favourite newspaper in a digital format. And if you ask me, this is only a natural transition for all print players who are moving from only print to providing the print experience through digital platforms.

Gujarati Mid-Day will also be available in the similar format, as we want out Gujarati readers to have a similarly enhanced experience as well.

How have you kept the digital tabloid version on the mobile platform user- friendly?

The Mid-Day digital tabloid has been specifically customised for mobile. Like I mentioned before, exclusive news breaks, entertainment features, leisure and around town coverage and local sports reportage, all come alive along with animated visual vocabulary, influencer videos and interactive ads.

In fact, we were the first publication to share pdf of the paper regularly to our readers on their mobile phones. We received great response and testimonials from our readers thanking us for sharing pdfs regularly through WhatsApp and Telegram during these trying times. Thanks to our superior content and credible coverage in these trying times, Mid-Day and Gujarati Mid-Day now reach a wider national audience, building a strong equity with people who accessed the newspaper on their phones every single day without a break for three months of the lockdown. We have been able to increase the Mid-Day reader database (including Mid-Day and Gujarati Mid-Day) from 18.69 lakh to 10 crore. With the launch of the digital tabloid, we have gone from just being a print player to a true digital player.

There have been an overall cut-down in ad spends in these crisis times. How have your advertising revenues in these challenging times – for your print tabloid as well as the online version? What are your revenue projections for the new digital tabloid version?

There is no denying the fact that whole M&E industry has been affected due to the pandemic and has witnessed a 70 per cent decline in advertising. However, I am very happy and proud to update that Mid-Day has been cash-flow positive even during these testing times. We chose to innovate and utilise the opportunity to connect with our audience through this digital format.

We have seen a lot of advertisers’ interest over the period of three months. They are latching on to the opportunity of presenting their ads in an interactive manner for their audience. Every day, two jacket pages have ads from our clients. We have clients like Amul, Girnar Tea, Nahar Real Estate Group, Goldie Masala, and many more, who are already advertising with us. Over this period, Mid-Day has transitioned from a city-based newspaper to a national newspaper. Instead of shutting down the print paper, Mid-Day bore fruits from the lockdown by taking an innovative approach to reach our audience.


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