WAN-IFRA: To what degree is India experiencing a decline in revenue from print operations, as found in many parts of the world?
Rajiv Verma: Luckily for us, we are still experiencing double-digit revenue growth from our print operations. Of course, we are also seeing growth slowing down in some of our print revenue streams, especially on the more mature metro market. However, print in India still has life left as long as we continue to keep the core underlying bits strong – highly credible journalism taking on key readers’ issues, good-quality products, low cover price, and home delivery of newspapers.
What potential do you see for revenue from digital readership?
The digital readership is growing very rapidly, and is going to be highly competitive, with multiple players doing some very exciting stuff in the content space. We see a large opportunity for revenue from advertising, though not necessarily from subscription revenue, at least in the near future.
Please comment on the current wave of Indian subsidiaries of digital publications – Huffington Post India, Quartz India, Business Insider India, etc. – and Indian publishers’ reactions to that wave.
Given that India continues to be a thriving and fast-growing news-content consumption market, it’s but natural that global digital publications would like to play in this market and seek to replicate their global models. Many of them have understandably chosen to partner with Indian publishers to leverage variously their credibility, their networks, and their established user bases, and also since the global business models will in many cases need to be customised for the local environment.
These many new global player entries should in fact help develop the market by boosting digital content consumption, as well as develop the ecosystem, and the learnings should actually help existing Indian publishers sharpen their strategy.
What new business models – especially unusual/unconventional ones – are being successfully implemented by newspapers in India?
Many new and unusual business models are being successfully implemented by newspapers in India, principally among them ideas like providing value-added brand solutions for customers that actually move publishers up the value chain, making them effectively brand consultants to marketeers, enabling a very different level of win-win than is otherwise feasible; and an ads-for-equity model which makes publishers participate in the growth and development of fledgling businesses, again often making them early-stage partners.
Please comment on the likely development of mobile as a publishing platform for Indian newspapers in 2015 and the near future.
Mobile is clearly emerging as the device of choice for Indian consumers for content consumption, and will therefore be a key publishing platform in 2015 and the near future. The traffic on mobile – both apps and sites – is growing rapidly, across both English and local languages, and overall consumption including video is expected to pick up momentum with 4G rollout that is expected later this year.