Friday, 31 July 2009

Philippine newspaper readership up in A and B market

Don Gil K. Carreon

PHILIPPINE NEWSPAPERS are not yet going the way of their foreign counterparts whose demise has been hastened by the economic crunch, as readership continues to pick up in the upscale market, a recent study by market research firm Synovate showed.

In a briefing yesterday, Steve Garton, global executive director of media at Synovate, said readership among the A and B classes has gone up to 64% from March to May from 59% in November 2008 to January. "It’s time to debunk the myth that newspapers are dying [here]. They are not," he said.

While overall readership dipped to 34% from 37%, this was mainly caused by a decline in the D and E segments, which have lesser purchasing power than the affluent classes, Mr. Garton said. "This is a good thing. In today’s economy, advertisers are looking for efficient targeting of people. Print has an advantage because it is increasingly a target of the upper-socio," he said.

A recent study by Nielsen Media Research, however, showed that print continues to get a smaller share of the advertising pie, cornering only 5% of the estimated P40.7 billion spent by companies in the first quarter.

Synovate found that the number of people reading newspapers in their offices went up to 24% from only 11% during the previous period.

"[The jump in readership] is driven by [newspaper companies’] push into offices to get white-collar readers," he noted. Those buying their own newspapers dropped to 22% from 34%, while household subscribers dipped to 19% from 21%.

Among the different section of the newspaper, the front page is the most read (42%), followed by sports (12%) and entertainment (7%).

The study noted that Sunday newspapers also saw improved readership among the A and B market, with 53% saying they read these publications, up from 49%.

Meanwhile, cable TV subscription is on the rise — up to 55% from 52% — showing that Filipinos are willing to shell out money for quality content. "Terrestrial TV viewership remained at near saturation levels, with 98% relaxing in front of TV sets," Synovate said.

The research firm also found that Filipinos are shifting toward broadband and away from dial-up subscriptions as connection to the Internet from homes rose to 48% from 43%.

The 2009 figures were compiled in two waves involving 4,000 respondents each, about half of whom were from the Greater Manila Area. The rest were from urban areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The study survey had a margin of error of 1.1%.

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