The aggressive push Chinese companies from Silicon Valley and Chinese companies that have won over India, one of the latest high-growth markets, have decimated many local companies in recent years. With each passing day, Amazon is closing in on Walmart-owned Flipkart’s advantage in the e-commerce space. Uber is fighting Ola for the tent’s position in the car ride market; and Google and Facebook dominate the ad business, to name a few. But a handful of companies in India have not only survived growing competition, they have also built businesses that are positively thriving.
The Times Internet media conglomerate, one such company, says its properties now reach 110 million users every day and 450 million users every month. To put this in context: Facebook and Google have roughly 300 million monthly active users in India. Facebook, What is mired in controversy over the spread of misinformation about WhatsApp in India (and other regions), has not revealed its growth in the nation in the last two years. But in a marketing speech, the giant says its family of applications (Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram) reach 350 million users nationwide each month.
In a rare industry move, Satyan Gajwani, The Times Internet vice president shared an overview of the conglomerate’s business on Tuesday, revealing the ever-growing tentacles of its ambitions.
If the numbers are so great, why self-publish? Gajwani declined to comment, but his company is in a unique situation. For all its scale, Times Internet. It remains one of the least talked about conglomerates of its size in the country. Most of the news organizations in India compete with their media, which may explain why it is not reported in the press.
The 181-year-old subsidiary, Bennett Coleman and Company Limited (popularly known as Times Group) operates more than three dozen properties, including the Times of India newspaper, the Indiatimes online point of sale, the advertising business in Colombia, Tventures venture group and Gaana and Reproductor MX streaming services . And almost all of these properties are growing, Gajwani said.
For example, Times Internet The media have accumulated 265 million monthly active users. The Times of India, the country’s most widely read news and newspaper website, has 212 million monthly active users, 44% more than last year. Regional Times Internet digital periodicals such as NewsPoint, Navbharat Times, Maharashtra Times, Vijay Karnataka now have 122 monthly active users, he said.
Music streaming service Gaana, which raised $ 115 million from Tencent and others last year, hit 100 monthly active users in March this year, the service announced last week. MX Player, a video player app that doubles as a streaming service that Times Internet acquired for about $ 140 million last year, is one of the most popular Android apps in emerging markets.
During the first month of the IPL cricket tournament, one of the most popular events in India, 118 million users tuned in to the Times Internet’s Cricbuzz, a news and entertainment service dedicated to sports. As the mobile gaming ecosystem begins to gain traction in India, Times Internet says it is also building a portfolio of applications in this space.
Its lifestyle properties like MenXP, iDiva, and Whats Hot have 40 million monthly active users, and its videos record more than 200 million views every month. These properties are exploring an additional revenue channel by selling products directly to clients, Gajwani told TechCrunch in an interview.
Go beyond ads
Pursuing that path illustrates the Times Internet’s growing drive to grow its business beyond ads. Most Times properties on the Internet are built on advertisements and cost users nothing to access. His own advertising business, called Colombia, now complements some advertisements on its network and is used by more than a dozen external brands, such as Ola, ABP News, and Hotstar.
But online advertising still cannot compete with television and print advertising in India, Satish Meena, an analyst at research firm Forrester, told TechCrunch. So in recent years, Times Internet has announced a series of subscription services at many of its properties.
“Especially for premium publishers, an ads-only business model is not likely to last or be sustained in the long term,” Gajwani said. Last year, Times Internet announced Times Prime, a subscription package that includes access to the premium version of Gaana, an ad-free experience on Times of India, and discounts on a number of third-party services such as Swiggy, the BigBasket retailer for the delivery of foods. and the PVR Cines theater chain. Gajwani said Times Internet has reached one million customers on its subscription services.
As part of the Times’ push on the internet to expand its revenue channels is its growing focus on Tventures, its venture capital fund that made early investments in a number of startups including Edt, Byju and logistics, Delhivery. , two unicorns. It has also invested in Shuttl passenger transportation service and fantasy cricket app MPL, among others.
Gajwani said that Tventures looks at “use cases that can benefit from its growing network.” And that’s one of the great advantages of the Times Internet scale. The properties they own enjoy great advertising benefits through their extensive network. “There are very few companies, other than Google and Facebook, that have our level of scale,” Gajwani said.
I can’t resist sharing this sexy as hell company profile. Fabulous showcase of the sheer volume of incredibly ambitious things the Times Internet has delivered… And that staggering revenue figure! No small feat. Congratulations @satyan https://t.co/lVH0bCmZpJ
– Anant Goenka (@anantgoenka) April 30, 2019
Times Internet, which employs more than 5,000 people, also operates Times Bridge, an investment firm that links with international brands to help them launch in India. Some of its strategic partners include Uber, Airbnb, and Coursera. It also partnered with several news outlets including Business Insider, TechRadar, Huffington Post (which, like TechCrunch, is owned by Verizon Media Group), AdAge, PCMag and Gizmodo Media have Lifehacker and Gizmodo to launch in India.
But not everything is success, there have been less successful companies, particularly in the media segment.
The Indian versions of Lifehacker, Gizmodo, TechRadar and PCMag failed to attract significant audiences in the nation and have already closed stores. Huffington Post ended its association with Times Internet in 2017 and now fully controls Huffington Post India.
Gajwani admitted that the Times Internet realized that working with some niche publishers is not that sustainable. “We have some partnerships that we maintain that are working well, like Business Insider,” he added. Today, Times Internet is no longer primarily looking to publishers for future alliances, but instead focuses on “platforms and technologies.”
A couple of pitfalls aside, the biggest challenge for the future of Times Internet is generating enough ad revenue and convincing enough users to become paying customers. Times Internet generated $ 202 million in fiscal 2018 with a loss of $ 23 million, according to regulatory documents. In an interview last week, Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal said that its music streaming service, which dominates the market but is not profitable, will introduce a series of premium plans in a wide range of price levels to attract the users.
Gajwani said he also hopes to make Colombia one of the largest ad networks in India and tap into 20 million paying subscribers by 2023. He said that some properties within the Red Times could raise additional funds from outside investors in the future. These are ambitious goals, but Times Internet is one of the few companies in India that really has a chance to coexist with the dominant technology platforms abroad.