India Today Group plans to go digital in a big way under the aegis of India Today Group Digital (ITGD) with a super website that would showcase all its properties under one umbrella. The website is expected is to be launched in early 2008. Meanwhile, the Group has already relaunched websites of some of its publications, including India Today and Business Today, besides launching the websites of Money Today and Prevention India. Next on the cards are the websites of the Group’s lifestyle and special interest magazines as also the television channels.
The umbrella website will offer readers a multi-media experience – including print, video and audio. Meanwhile, all the other publications of the Group, including Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Design Today and Golf Digest, would have their respective websites. Websites of India Today would also come up in Tamil, Hindi and Bengali languages.
On the news channel front, Aaj Tak’s site would be revamped shortly, while Headlines Today, which was not available on the net hitherto, would now have its own website.
The reasons for shifting from a subscription-based model to a free access model for the Group’s websites are two-fold. Sanjoy Narayan, Chief Operating Officer, India Today Group Digital, said, “Our earlier subscription model found takers mainly among Indians living abroad or those who wanted information about India. Also, that was a time when Internet penetration was low and the user base was small. Now, with both of these increasing rapidly, particularly among the younger people, we want to tap this audience.”
The other reason is, of course, revenue. “Online advertising is growing and this offers us the opportunity to tap a new revenue stream for the Group,” Narayan further said, adding, “The digital avatars of the print publications can help engage readers and keep them connected to the Group’s strong brands regardless of their periodicity. So, while our magazines connect with our readers once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month, their websites will offer opportunities to engage with the brands on a 24x7 basis.”
Currently, the new websites offer breaking news that is updated round-the-clock, exclusive features and blogs written by senior group journalists. Money Today and Business Today sites have interactive calculators and personal finance tools, while all the sites have Q&A features to engage readers and help them build their own communities. On the India Today site, Editor and Group Editorial Director, Prabhu Chawla, replies to questions posted by readers every week. More features, including video clips and podcasts would be added soon, said Narayan.
If the Group is to be believed, what is available at the moment was just an interim revamp as there was much more in the works than met the eye. The Group is working on developing a robust multi-media, multi-platform content management system that would make it easier to add, modify and scale-up its websites as well as increase interactivity for users.
Already the sites for each of the publications have an e-magazine – a digital replica of the print magazine – that can be viewed online. “We are attempting to add more exclusive content on each of our websites and for this we will be adding special editorial teams that would be dedicated to online content generation. Our aim is to offer our readers a combination of fresh content with the depth and perspective of the Group’s strong magazine brands,” added Narayan.