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April 23, 2007

Indian media houses make big moves online

Businessworld has a cover story on the Internet businesses of leading Indian TV and print media companies.
Most old media companies know that they are investing in the Internet a little ahead of time. But unlike 10 years ago when they briefly appeared and then withdrew with the crash in 2000, this time they claim to be in it for keeps. And all of them seem to have found ways around India’s Internet problems — bad access, no metrics, etc. For now, though, it seems as if the TV and film companies are better at the game than print companies. With the honourable exception of India’s largest media company. By the end of July 2007, the Mumbai-based Bennett, Coleman & Co. (BCCL) should get about 10-15 per cent of its estimated Rs 3,000-odd-crore in revenues from its portals — indiatimes, timesjobs and the others. That would make it, arguably, one of the biggest Internet companies in India.

Others are trying to catch up. In about two years, Mumbai-based news broadcaster Television Eighteen (TV18) has built, acquired or allied with partners to create a family of 10 websites such as and Web 18 was recently spun off as a separate company with a new CEO, Surya Mantha. By end 2006-07, Mantha says that 10-20 per cent (around Rs 20 crore) of TV18’s revenues will come from its portals. “We want to be the largest consumer Internet company in India,” says Mantha, in a telephonic chat from Mumbai.

Its arch rival and India’s top news broadcaster, New Delhi Television has just set up NDTV Convergence. “We ( are at 200 million page views a month and among India’s top five websites. All we need to do is monetise it,” says CEO Sanjay Trehan. His revenue target is Rs 100 crore in three years. From The Hindu in Chennai to Zee and Mid-Day Multimedia in Mumbai to Living Media in Delhi, almost every company has set up either a Net division, a subsidiary or allied with an Internet firm.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.