Business, Internet, Social

Is Social Media Going to Kill Legacy Media Organisations?

Social media is giving such a slaughter its best shot, although with much help from the legacy media honchos. However, with a population of approximately 1.27 billion and internet penetration of approximately 243 million (a mere 19.9%), the statistics in India beg the real question – Can social media kill legacy media organisations like print media and television?


Image Source :The Hindu

The Advent of Social Media

  • In February of 1978, Ward Christensen and Randy Suess of Chicago launched the ‘Computerised Bulletin Board System’ (CBBS). It offered to the public a mode and medium to connect electronically and exchange ideas, comments, advertisements etc. Limitation – only one user could dial into the CBBS network at a time. Arguably, CBBS is the precursor of social media as we know it today.
  • Usenet, a computer network and communication system connecting the University of North Carolina and Duke University was published in 1980. Users could log onto the system through a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, or even through their own server, university, workplace.
  • America Online (AOL) came alive in 1985, a multinational mass media corporate which developed and invested in brands and websites. The company acts as a digital distributor of content, products and services to consumers, publishers and advertisers.
  • The 1990’s saw an exponential growth of the cyber-world. ICQ took the world by a storm in 1996. In 1997, allowed people to create profiles and list friends. Online ‘chatting’ became a household habit with AOL Instant Messenger. 1997 saw the birth of Google. ‘Friends Reunited’, a social networking site was established in Great Britain in 1998. Similarly ‘Friendster’ was established in the USA.
  • The new millennium viewed the launch of Myspace, Linkedin, Orkut, Facebook (earlier it was limited to students of Harvard University) and others. From 2005 onwards, the traffic on internet networking and sharing websites became unprecedented, be it Facebook for high schools, Myspace, Bebo, YouTube, Twitter, Buzz, Flickr, Pinterest and many more.
  • 2009 saw the arrival of social media as a possible competitor of traditional media organisations, with Twitter breaking the news of a plane crash in the river Hudson. There onwards, smartphones and tablets have only increased the reach and widened the audience of social media. It is now the quickest and most convenient mode of sharing news and commenting upon it.

Also Read :Is Social media finally Bigger than Traditional Media?

Advantages Social Media has over Traditional Media

  • Relatively Inexpensive
  • Quick, almost real-time dissemination of information with minimal response time
  • Open communication and exchange of ideas, therefore, interactive and engaging
  • Simpler to handle i.e. no or negligible/ basic technical skill set or background required
  • Opportunity to not only widen business networking, but also to measure conversion ratio by overseeing online activity
  • Can reach audiences in any nook and cranny of the globe
  • Flexibility in terms of changes, modifications or additions that may be made many number of times and at any time

Legacy media accelerating its own demise?

  • Times of India and Hindustan Times, leading English dailies in India, have been indulging in a clown fight online. The unsavoury finger-pointing and mud-slinging was reported by us here.
  • Times of India appears to have been all but trashed for its ‘report’ on Salman Khan’s abdomen muscles and Deepika Padukone’s cleavage recently. Looks like the newsprint biggie cannot handle the outflow of news (or inflow of anti-comments) by the Twitterati!
  • Our very own FM’s misspoken(and perhaps quoted out of context?) statement vis-a-vis publicity of rapes leading to loss of tourism revenue was edited and later even blocked out by traditional media. Social Media not only refused to oppress the news, but commented freely and passionately on/ against it.
  • Business2Community reported here how Times of India tweaked its policy on social media usage by asking its employees to maintain one ‘official’ account on Twitter, FB etc. and to handover their passwords to the company. This is how people responded on Twitter.
  • Although television shows are actually being helped by social media, as online discussion generates interest and curiosity, news on television is slowly getting obsolete. This is due to several factors, such as sensationalism and mostly uninspiring and uninspired journalism of television reporting. Also, news is available quickly, and in a raw form in the virtual world (owing perhaps to its shortness, in a country with people who have little time and lots of information to share).

Trends in legacy media mediums

  • Newsprint has seen a growth in India that has shocked many the world over. From 2006 till 2012, the numbers have only been increasing, as is evident from the following:


Image Source :Business Standard

  • A reading of the table above indicates that the slowest growing sector has been the English newspaper. The reason for this could be that social media is available mainly to the English speaking-reading citizenry of India (as internet penetration would be highest in such a population segment). Perhaps the English newsprint in India shall have to reinvent itself to maintain relevance and not be wiped out by social media.
  • Although newsprint circulation has no definite or consistent performance record globally, it isclear from the image hereunder that it is not a dying medium in India.


  • Television has been around for approximately 55 years. It caught the Indian public’s attention like nothing before it, which is evident from the following data analysis carried out by TAM:









 TV owning 123 134 142 148
Non Cable & Satellite 33 30 26 21
Cable & Satellite 90 103 116 126
Digital 15 20 26 42



S. NO.




TOTAL REVENUE (Figures are rounded to nearest integers and may not add up exactly to column totals)




1. 2007 140 71 211
2. 2008 158 82 241
3. 2009 169 88 257
4. 2010 194 103 297
5. 2011 214 116 329
6. 2012* 245 125 370
7. 2013* 281 139 420
8. 2014* 345 157 501
9. 2015* 427 180 607
10. 2016* 518 207 725
11. 2017* 607 240 848

Note- * projected

Interestingly, despite the astounding progress of the television industry, the question is this : Did it kill newsprint?

In more than five decades, television has grown and so has newsprint. And this is despite the fact that TVs were not as widely available when they came in the market (just as social media accessibility depends on low internet penetration in the country). It would appear that likewise, the nation has grabbed onto social media by its horns and will continue to ride the wave of information, discussion and connectivity that the latter has brought. Although with the growth that we are witnessing and the yearning for dialogue, India currently has the appetite for both – legacy media and social media. But once Internet penetration reaches its heights, social media will grow too, and along with the above mentioned reasons, legacy media organisations will have a lot to worry about.

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