The Indian Express Group has joined the online bandwagon of e-papers. The group has launched the beta version of e-paper editions of both its daily English newspapers – Indian Express and Financial Express.
“We have launched the beta version during which we will test the product and see the response from our readers and the market,” said Mohit Bhakuni, Online Head, ExpressIndia.
E-paper, a recent phenomenon of publishing, has been an instant eye-catcher for Indian publishers. At present, most of the e-papers are available free of charge. Hindustan Times, which was the only English publication to keep its e-paper paid since its inception, made it free from October 1.
When asked whether it was a risky proposition to make e-papers paid, S N Bhaduri, VP, e-business, Hindustan Times, maintained that the venture was revenue-generating in its paid form, but was made free to make it more popular.
“We are going to add the beta version of many new features from December. There has been a great demand for the product. In order to expose the new features to a larger audience, we have made it free. We have a certain figure in mind. When we reach that critical number, the revenue model will be converted into an advertisement-cum-subscription one,” Bhaduri added.
Meanwhile, Indian Express is taking a cautious stand on the issue of making its e-paper paid subscription based. “We will observe the response for one month. Whether the product will be priced or not will depend on the response it receives,” said Bhakuni.
ExpressIndia also recently ventured into the online shopping space. Declining to give any revenue figures, Bhakuni said, “We launched ExpressIndia Shopping four months ago. The response has been more than what we expected. Shopping will now enjoy greater focus. We are in the process of building a separate team which will take care of ExpressIndia Shopping.”
When asked whether content would now take a backseat, Bhakuni asserted, “Content has been ExpressIndia’s USP, which is towards the theme of empowering India and we won’t dilute it anyway. We are in the process of implementing a three-year business plan. From next year onwards, we will be launching a host of utility-oriented innovative features in the line of our commitment towards empowering India, which will be commercially viable and revenue generating in nature.”