India has long been regarded as the last Eldorado of the printed newspaper industry, but will this distinction stand the test of time? Newspaper sales in the country have bucked the trend of declining circulations seen in so many countries after the advent of the internet. Publisher were actually selling more papers in India well into the 2010s, doubling sales between 2009 and 2015, according to the Office of Registrar of Newspapers for India.
As explained in a Wall Street Journal article from that same year, the internet was slower to reach a burgeoning middle-class outside of bigger cities in India, causing them to turn to printed papers in larger numbers. Newspapers printing in local languages also had a leg up over major international and national publication present on the web that in the Indian context both concentrate on the English language. As these new readers were also new and sought-after consumers, advertising budgets remained high in Indian print publications as they plunged elsewhere, further keeping the papers in a position to expand.
The first wrinkle to the newspaper gold rush happened in the fiscal year of 2016-17, however, when advertising budgets shifted, circulation sank, layoffs ensued and papers shut down. Circulation has fluctuated since but there were still more than 1,000 new publications registered in the 2020-21 fiscal year (ending March 2021) which fit the Office of Registrar of Newspapers for India's conditions. Covid-19 dealt another blow to the Indian newspaper industry, but since then, at least some customers have been reported to have returned to the industry that is defying the global trend (for now).