I picked up a copy of the first issue of Life365 today morning and I liked what I saw. So this quick post about the new Pune daily newspaper.
- Pune Focused: For far too long have Pune readers tolerated petty news from Mumbai & Delhi. Traffic jams in Mumbai or Delhi Civic Election results are not relevant to me and definitely not front-page worthy. So it was good to see Life365 free of irrelevant news from Mumbai / Delhi.
- No Page 3: The decline in quality of Indian press over the past decade or so is widely attributed to the introduction of Page3 & paid news by a national daily. The other papers soon joined in as there was easy money to be made and readers were actually reading the paid promos disguised as news. I was pleased to see Life365 cleansed of Page 3 content! Chief Editor, Anand Agashe says “Sleaze as entertainment will have no part in Life365”.
Having said that, paid news & page 3 subsidizes the paper for readers and a lot of people are actually hooked on to Page3 tabloid content (remember the Duggu ad from the Hindu). It is to be seen if people will pay more for quality content.
- Advertisements: Most readers don’t mind ads within reasonable limits and if they are marked as “ads”. Today’s edition of Life365 had no ads, but I suppose that will change.
- Connected Content: Life365 being local, one hopes it will cover events, activities and news that are not generated in English per se. I say that because although the cultural & social mainstream of Pune runs on Marathi, most Pune English papers are disconnected from it and tend to primarily cover content that’s generated in English. So unless you read a Marathi paper, you don’t really know what’s happening in Pune. It is yet to be seen how Life365 goes about it but Life365 does look well placed to connect with all segments of Pune.
- I liked the colourful and easy on the eye format of Life365. It’s also good to see a section dedicated to health.
On the flip side:
- Cost: A launch price of Rs 4 is pricey as compared to the competition. I suppose most newspapers these days look at ads as the primary revenue source and not the reader. Getting people to pay good money for content is going to be tough. I would think that a free / cheap introductory offer is a must for people to try out Life365.
- The sports section looks weak. A lot of sports coverage in the major papers these days anyway seems like it is force feeding things that don’t really interest many Indians. Maybe it’s just driven by commercial intersts… Life365 could perhaps survey which sports truly interest Punekars and proceed accordingly.
- National/Global news: Today’s Life365 edition has gone to the other extreme where it has almost no all India / world news content. I think those sections need to be bolstered and a balance needs to be found.
- The online edition at Life365.in is fine for reading but is not suited to sharing. Without a unique web page (URL) for each article and in-built support for sharing, it would be almost impossible for any Life365 content to go viral.
Overall, Life365 looks promising. I suppose competing with the marketing muscle of the big players by providing good, local & relevant content is going to be the primary challenge for Life365.