News aggregators are dominating Indian digital news distribution

Trends in digital media

Ramanujam Pobbisetty of Comscore India at Digital Media India 2019.

The Indian digital news distribution is being led and dominated by aggregators such as Dailyhunt and their reach is growing, said Ramanujam Pobbisetty, director, Comscore India at the recently concluded Digital Media India 2019 that was held in Mumbai.

Comscore is an American media measurement and analytics company that offers marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. It has more than 3,200 clients worldwide in more than 70 countries.

Bengaluru-based Dailyhunt is a mobile application with the highest reach and is the only news application among the top 50 applications downloaded. Dailyhunt (earlier known as Newshunt) is a news and local language content discovery application which offers pieces of content every day in 14 languages licensed from over 2000 publication partners.

“Dailyhunt tops the combined reach of its seven competitors,” said Pobbisetty.

Highlighting the comparison of consumption of digital news in India and the world, Pobbisetty said as of December 2018, India had more than 278 million unique visitors compared to more than 1.8 billion worldwide. This reach was close to 95% of India’s total digital population, much higher than the global average which was a little over 80%. India has the maximum news penetration among the large digital populations, he said. Against India’s 95% penetration, USA had almost 90% while Brazil had close to 93% and China was low at 68%.

Vernaculars were leading the growth; as against 38 page views per visitor for English, vernaculars have an average 53 page views per visitor, he shared.

Challenges and opportunities

Despite a large digitally connected population accessing news online, the level of engagement in India continues to be very low compared with global average. In India, on an average every visitor spends about 150 minutes on the website or the application, while in Finland the figure is 600 minutes and over 300 minutes in USA. In China, the figure is over 500 minutes and in Taiwan over 300.

“The reach needs to translate into engagement,” said Pobbisetty.

Active engagement is a challenge for news publishers, but a pocket of opportunity that is emerging is in the digital video segment. The number of unique visitors has increased significantly for all major news service providers in India. For instance, India Today has seen the number of unique visitors increase from 45 million in January 2018 to 77 million in December 2018, according to Pobbisetty.

Similarly, ABP News Network has seen the number of unique visitors jump from 25 million to 60 million during the same period; Network 18 saw its number of unique visitors soar from 25 million to 51 million; Times Internet saw 22 million unique visitors in December 2018 compared with just 3 million in January. For Times Network, the number of unique visitors increased from 12 million to 19 million in the same period.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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