Times Internet aims for US$ 1 billion revenue by 2025

Aiming to reach 1 billion Indians across platforms

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Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman, Times Internet Photo: Satyan Gajwani’s Twitter account via Internet
Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman, Times Internet Photo: Satyan Gajwani’s Twitter account via Internet

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.

Audience engagement

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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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