The timing couldn’t have been better. Three years ago Paprika Media, a publishing firm kick-started by Smiti Ruia (daughter of Shashi Ruia of the Essar Group), tied up with the Tony Elliot-owned magazine title Time Out to launch a Mumbai edition. Like all the other Time Out cityspecific magazines, Time Out Mumbai would be a city guide that provided informed choices to resident and non-resident dwellers on options for entertainment.
Today, the fortnightly magazine claims a circulation of 60,000 copies (including newsstand sales, institutional sales and individual subscription) and a readership of 360,000. Time Out Delhi followed seven months ago, and today claims a circulation of 35,000 and 180,000 readers.
“The quality of the India edition is one of the best in the world. We are extremely happy with the performance of the magazine in India,” says Elliot, who’s owned the magazine since setting it up whilst still a student in 1968. Smiti Ruia, Chairperson, Paprika Media, is now all set to take Time Out to other cities in the country.
The immediate plan includes the launch of a Bangalore edition by early next year. Hyderabad and metros like Chennai and Kolkata are also on her radar. “We have to be sure that the city is also ready for a product like Time Out before we launch,” explains Ruia.
Apart from the main metros, Ruia is looking at mini-metros like Pune, Chandigarh, and also at Goa. Time Out also has a Jaipur edition that is published once in two months. “We also do guides in India. We have a Kid’s Guide to Mumbai. We have also done a Mumbai-Goa guide in association with Time Out London.” The niche publication industry is estimated to be worth Rs 800 crore, and growing at 15-20 per cent per annum. That may be why Paprika Media is looking at launching entertainment and lifestyle magazines in the near future.
Time Out, for its part, has a presence in 18 countries and 21 cities across the world. According to Elliot, the magazine garners revenues to the tune of $23 million in the US and about $45 million in UK.
The rest of the world contributes $20 million. The Time Out Group has expanded over the past 35 years to publish listings guides for cities, travel guides, guides to specific aspects of cities (such as eating and drinking guides) and has established a similar presence online. On future plans Elliot informs: “We are planning a major online expansion throughout the UK and across major cities in America. For the rest of the world, growth will come from three areas: First, from international editions with international partners; secondly, by expanding the guide business; and thirdly by expanding online, by creating more databases on various places across the world.”