Indian Language in print, internet, TV: Report

IAMAI & IMRB have released a report “Report on Vernacular Content: 2009“. I had conveyed my thoughts on this subject to IMRB for this report. Some of the highlights from this report are,

Geographic Segments

  • Top metros in terms of population: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, Chennai
  • Other 4 metros: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad
  • Small metros: Cities which have more than 1 million population
  • Non-Metros: Towns with population between 0.5 million to 1 million
  • Small Towns: Towns with population of less than 0.5 million

Socio-Economic Classification (SEC)

A classification that indicates the affluence level of a household to which an individual belongs. SEC is defined by the education and occupation of the chief wage earner (CWE) of a household. SEC is divided into 8 categories – A1, A2, B1, B2, C, D, E1 and E2 (in decreasing order of affluence).

Language Diversity in India

  • 28 states and 7 union territories in India
  • Though the official language of the Indian Union is Hindi with English as its secondary official language, due to the diversity of people each state has its own official language.
  • the traditional media which include television, radio, magazines and newspapers have explored these languages and each one offers a huge variety to local flavor to suit the needs of the people from different origin and background.
  • There are more than 36,000 Hindi newspapers, more than 4000 Bengali newspapers, more than 4400 Tamil newspapers published in the country (Source:, including regional variants of the same publication.

Media in India

  • In the list of top 10 most read newspapers (as per IRS Q1, 2010), 5 are in Hindi, 4 in other regional languages and only one in English.
  • There are more than 250 television channels in India, including national, regional, state, city and private operators. Consumers prefer entertainment content in non-English language.
  • Be it any form of media consumption, Hindi or regional content is consumed by the Indian masses

Indian Language On Internet Media

  • Language is one of the barriers in the growth of the Internet in India
  • Only 25% Internet users aware of vernacular content online
  • Apart from top four metros, awareness of online vernacular content is also high in small metros.
  • Awareness levels: Top 4 metros (25%), next 4 metros (18%), small metros (25%), non-metros (18%), small towns (14%). (Would be useful to know what is the market size for online language content in each of these categories)
  • While the higher SECs tend not to use vernacular or regional content, the lower SECs are more likely to use them
  • Usage for Government services in regional language is highest in small towns. This may be attributed to the fact that kiosks or CSCs (common service centers) are set up in these towns which boost the usage of these services there.
  • The usage of regional content on Internet is largely driven by content related to entertainment, news, and sports.

Mobile & Indian Languages

  • India has one of the lowest internet penetration but one of the highest tele-density in the world.
  • As the Internet usage grows so will the demand for regional content. New users will use the internet from their mobile phones.
  • Regional language will be medium of communicating and expressing themselves.
  • Mobile is the new platform for usage of regional language. This coupled with SMS integration would pave the future way for increased consumption of regional language online. (Mobile handset companies should make a note of this, I believe they have, but because of the red tape within their company they are not able convince their bosses to include support for Indian languages on their handsets)
  • According to Airtel (via Medianama), mere 21% of their data traffic comes from top metros, the rest (which is the majority) is from non-metros. Huge language opportunity!

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