Times Internet, the digital arm of the Times of India Group, is looking to reach 1 billion Indians and become a US$ 1 billion revenue company by 2025, Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman, Times Internet says in the company’s latest annual report. “It requires us to build dynamically and ambitiously because anything less means someone bolder will take your place. Our aspiration is to reach 1 billion Indians and become a US$ 1 billion revenue company by 2025, and we’ve built the foundation to help us get there,” Gajwani said.
He said that the digital wave had disrupted nearly all media companies worldwide, leaving them weaker and more difficult to sustain as businesses in the new economy. “The Times Group has operated for 182 years, and Times Internet is a platform that will help the group maintain its relevance and service to India for the next 182 years,” he added.
Times Internet is the largest Indian digital consumer platform. Its approximately 30 media assets span TV, radio, and digital including Time of India, Economic Times, Navbharat Times; sports with Cricbuzz; lifestyle with Indiatimes; music with Gaana.com; and video with MX Player. Its enablement platforms serve users across personal finance with ET Money, real estate with Magicbricks, education with Gradeup, and food with Dineout. Also, the Times Cloud Platform is the flywheel between the media and enablement platforms, aiding product discovery across the company’s ecosystem.
In the 2019-2020 financial year, Times Internet saw growth in audience, crossing 110 million daily active users, up 5% year on year, and with 557 million monthly active users, up 23% year on year. Monthly pageviews increased by 44% to 67 billion.
Across news and entertainment, the non-English audience growth is outpacing English audience growth by an average ratio of 4 to 1. “Naturally, building better non-English experiences is a core priority for our widest-reaching platforms,” the report says.
The company’s revenue in 2019-2020 was Indian Rupees 1,625 crores, up 24% year on year. This is apart from the Bennet Coleman turnover in print media revenues, which is roughly twice this size but reported to be relatively stagnant. Times Internet’s advertising revenue grew 22%, with faster growth in music and video. Breaking up the revenue in segments — news contributed 31.7%, entertainment’s share was 31.2%, fintech was 22.4%, marketplace was 3.8%, and others 10.9%.
Rebounding from Covid-19 with both hiring and firing
Despite challenging market conditions, the company said it had grown faster than the industry and its competition in key verticals. “While we saw steep falls from March through June, we’ve rebounded well, with positive growth in July, and we ended August back in positive growth territory for the fiscal year as a whole! Our mature businesses are profitable today, our growth businesses are gaining market share, and we’ll continue to invest behind our high growth assets,” the company said.
Times Internet further stated that it is back to hiring and rolling back cost-cutting measures taken earlier in the year. The statement contrasts with the group’s print media business, which has just announced another round of salary cuts and redundancies supposedly to have a younger and healthier team.
The news media group is also currently embroiled in several controversies emanating from its senior editorial personnel being compromised by politicians and their management. Readers may recall that senior management and the owners themselves were among those shown in a poor light by the Cobrapost sting recordings of the big media houses in the first half of 2018.