We want to incubate the content ecosystem in India: Damon Xi, UCWeb, Alibaba Group

UCWeb’s content distribution platform UC News commands over 120 million active users every month. Being one of the biggest news aggregators in the country, it has even diversified into regional content

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Aug 11, 2017 8:18 AM

Alibaba Group’s UCWeb is betting big on the Indian market. UCWeb’s content distribution platform UC News, which was launched in India in June 2016, commands over 120 million active users every month. It is one of the biggest news aggregators in the country and has even diversified into regional content.


Speaking about UCWeb’s India journey, Damon Xi, General Manager, UCWeb India, says, “We want to incubate the content ecosystem in India because there are so many opportunities in this country. We have partnered with leading publishers who are known for their credibility and high quality content. Moreover, we are among few aggregators who are associated with almost all the top publishers of the country. It acknowledges the value that UC News offers to its partners.”


Adding value to publishers


According to Xi, UC News is committed to help publishers monetize their content. In this regard, the subsidiary of Alibaba group is using its global appeal to drive more traffic for Indian news media houses. 


“I think many publishers don’t have much control over their traffic. So we create standalone pages for such publishers to have their content specifically curated for UC News. In this way we ensure that they get a lot of visibility,” added Xi.


Given the information overload that readers often complain about, it becomes overwhelming for content consumers to look for credible sources of information. To address this, UC News has differentiated itself by becoming a top source of credible information. It helps users experience clutter free news that is curated from the most trustworthy sources.


Speaking about the need for becoming customer centric, Xi stated, “The key to running a successful news aggregation platform is all about understanding the user. Once you understand your user it becomes easier to provide the right content.”


Dealing with competition


The last few years have witnessed steep rise in the number of news aggregators in India. In this challenging environment is it tough for UC News to maintain its leadership position? 


“We don’t see much competition in the market. In fact, we can all come together and incubate the whole market. We are also trying to add more value for the readers which is more than just news,” explained Xi.


Snackable content


With ever busy schedules and demands on time, many experts feel that readers are increasingly in favour of consuming short news reports. Such Snackable content has become the business model for some news aggregators too. 


Speaking about the behaviour of contemporary news readers, Xi said, “When we talk of short news reports or snackable content, to some extent it depends on the users’ profile. Some people may love to read short news reports, while others may be interested in reading full opinion pieces. So it depends on the profile of the reader, the quality of content and the time that the reader has. The trend is that people try to use their spare time to read some short content. But there is definitely demand for high quality content irrespective of its length.” 


UCWeb’s India game plan


India is undoubtedly one of the most important markets for UCWeb. Sharing his vision for the country and the plans to diversify into regional content, Xi said, “We have diversified into vernacular languages and now publish in 15 different Indian languages. English or Hindi does not represent everything in this country. We are working hard to provide local content to local people. I would say, we still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to tapping the full potential of regional content in this country.”

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