Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hoo Boy!

Outlook Business hit the stands today, and many of us were waiting with bated breath. What will they be like? I had figured that they'ld just be another entrant to the game, good competition maybe. Lets do some critical analysis shall we?
Editor Alam Srinivas opens with how the rest of the genre doesn't know anything and that Outlook Business will be the Bees Knees, yada, yada, yada. Basically, he says that the other three business magazines out there don't understand numbers. So I take great pride in bursting his bubble. Readers, if you are stupid enough to waste fifteen bucks on this product - please go to page 79. According to the 'great' number crunching here - Nandan Nilekani is worth Rs 80,500 crore. Um, thats um, a few percentage points of the country's GDP. It gets better - according to the same article each Infosys share is worth Rs 29.9 crore (look at the NR Narayana Murthy bit). I know the market is rocking, but seriously...
And that is just in the cover article, imagine the rest of the insightful analysis in this magazine which looks at numbers with an all-new perspective (what was that about intelligent design?). You can argue that I'm being nit-picky, but I'm sorry to say that they won't even register as competition on the radar. Guys at Outlook, this was your chance people were expecting stuff and you blew it by producing what to me looks like an awfully edited product, you just blew it. Big time!
It's a weird sense of satisfaction I have right now. I love it!


akash said...

you are obviously not a fan of outlook. although i don't magazines regularly anymore ( waste of money and no space to store them) but their Outlook's article on the French Nuclear Submarine issue was quite interesting.

My parents still are big on magazines and subscribe to atleast 5 till now. ( They really haven't discovered blogs). But my first ever subscription was an auto magazine. AutoIndia IIRC.

You still have this pop-up for comments Can't track any conversations of this blog because of that. As it is blogspot doesn't provide RSS for comments.

K said...

Sorry Akash, I plan to do a update of this blog on Saturday. I massive republish at one go.
I'm iffy on Outlook, a bit too leftie for my liking, but far more readable than the competition (IT) and to be fair it is far less loony-left than both Tehelka and the disturbingly anti-capitalst Frontline. But, seriously Outlook could seriously do with a makeover.
(And Frontline should really merge with CSE's 'Down to Earth')
Honestly, I don't read too many desi magazines anymore.

Shashikant said...


Outlook has also launched a lifestyle magazine (monthly, I suppose). Got first issue free with Outlook. Just spent few seconds, and found it very much similar to the Sunday magazines published with local newspapers.

I regularly read Outlook and find it to be reasonaly good if you ignore sycophancy for 10 Janpath, I have reservations about these guys pulling it off with business magazine. Their personal finance magazine is quite lame. Save couple of good columns, rest looks like re-cycled material.

Would like to have your opinion on their other magazines.

Also, is the "Sold Lady" planning to enter in magazine business or business magazine?

thalassa_mikra said...

Ok, I'm really curious about this, when you or your colleagues interview any biggie exec in India, do you ask him what magazines and newspapers he reads?

I was really struck by an earlier comment of yours about general business magazines being read by MBA aspirants. Most of the execs I get to know in my field of research subscribe to very, very specialized trade journals.

GBO said...

Every media person I know pretends to read The Economist, and then they talk with Jairam Ramesh on Monday.

K said...

Sashikant - I think the 'Sold Lady' is expanding its magazine biz after the tie-up with the beeb. I don't know if this will mean a biz publication but from what I've heard they might get into the specialist trade magazine biz.
TM : Trade magazines work and they sell, but while execs read the trade mags they ALL want to get featured in the general biz mags. Megalomania Rulz! :-)
GBO : Well, I don't pretend to read that - I do read it - not so much for content but more to hope that some of the writing rubs off on me. And Jairam Ramesh is a worse pretender than Mani Aiyer - no compliments intended.

Rashmi Bansal said...

I bought Outlook Business yesterday and found it very disappointing. It looks to be more in the Dalal Street Journal mould than a 'business' magazine. There was nothing to hold my interest. No new 'news' and certainly no insights. Only point to note was the number of ads they managed to book.

And yes, it's true that young people 18-30 are the large and voracious customers of business magazines. Whenever I write for Businessworld on a topic that touches them I get a ton of responses. But I think there a less vocal but equally large no of decision makers who read such magazines. They do have reach and influence even if the absolute numbers are not as high as the publishers may like them to be.

The future of magazines is on the internet . A recent article on notes: "This is the year, according to Merrill Lynch, the Internet collects more ad dollars than magazines."

Sadly, K, India Today group does not even HAVE an internet strategy. You have to be a subscriber to access India Today Group magazine websites. This defeats the very purpose of having a website. They have an issue with giving their content 'free' but the thing is, you can't fight it. You have to join the party.

You may lose some subscribers of the print edition but you will never lose readership- that will grow. You have to make money off the net delivering advertising to those readers. Whether in print or the internet.

Also if others can't quote your articles or bloggers can't link to them, your influence as a news source is restricted. These are really big issues which I hope Aroon Poorie addresses asap!

K said...

I think there are two extremes of how media groups have embraced the internet - Jain&Jain's extremely schizo but full-on coverage and India Today Group's non-existent coverage - ITG was burned very badly by the failure of - they couldn't see that people will not pay for news content they can get for free elsewhere. The entire site is actually not behind a 'paid' fortress though, you can break it fairly easily. But that said, I think ITG and TVTN need a much better idea of what the online media is all about - which is quite strange because inside the group there are at least two senior editors I know who are extremely knowledgable about technology. But once burned, twice shy and sadly you're right unless something is done, its bad for the brands as well.
Which is what I think CNN-IBN does have. I really think that in terms of layout and content is by far and away the best Indian news site right now. As for money, in the three months since I put up Adsense I've made $10 - not enough to retire but nice anyway!
PS : Padma Shree Sucheta Dalal's Money Life - a new P-Fin magazine is out. Lets see how that is.

Rashmi Bansal said...

I've glanced through a copy of Money Life. It's decent. However it's invisible on newsstands so I'm not sure what the distribution strategy is.

National Highway said...

Rashmi is right about the internet strategy bit of news organisations. The trouble is: is there real money to be made in Indian news sites? I doubt. Unlike the West. Any research, any stats about how much rediff etc make out of ads on their site? Why, the NDTV site now has a shopping channel!