HT Media has said that it has invested Rs 1.5 crore in new media startups through its MediaHacks accelerator, CEO Rajiv Verma said in call with analysts. Earlier in May 2015, HT Media had started MediaHacks with North Base Media. At the time, HT Media and North Base Media said they will be initially investing $50,000 to $100,000 in the selected startups for a minority stake.
“As a part of MediaHacks, three or four ideas have been funded for young promoters with a funding between Rs 50 lakhs to 1 crores each,” Verma said in the call. “As more and more ideas keep coming we will continue to fund them and figure out depending on the quality of those ideas,” he added.
Earlier in December last year, HT Media invested an undisclosed amount in Planet GoGo, a lock screen and news snippets app. The app lets users read the latest news on the lock screen without unlocking. Users can swipe through to read more stories, or swipe the unlock button to get to their home screens.
Around the same time, DealStreetAsia, a digital media platform based in Singapore, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from various investors including HT Media.
On digital capex
HT Media’s chief financial strategist Vinay Mittal said that the capital expenditure (Capex) in Q3 FY16 stood at Rs 90 crore with “a large chunk went into the newsroom upgradation to combine the digital & print media editorial teams.” In the preceding quarter, the company hived off its digital content production business into a separate company, called HT Digital Information Limited. This includes the digital content production businesses of its publications Hindustan Times (English), Hindustan (Hindi) and Mint (English; Business daily).
“Capex for next year should be in the region of Rs. 40-50 crores. Basically we may spend on one or two expansions in Hindustan along with some bit into radio and balance on the newsroom augmentation,” Mittal added.
He also said that the EBITDA loss for the digital business was at Rs 50 crore in the first nine months. The management had declined to give the EBIDTA loss in the preceding quarter. HT Media reported digital revenues of Rs 38.21 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2015, registering a 43.38% growth from Rs 26.65 crore in the same quarter last year.
Earlier in November, News Laundry reported that some of the newly hired reporters and correspondents at the Hindustan Times were designated as “content creators” with no change in the salary or responsibilities, while their business cards continued to designate them as “principal correspondents”. HT Media is apparently testing integration across its publications under a project named Butterfly.
Digital advertising business
Verma also provided some details on HT Media’s mobile-first advertising company Digital Quotient (DQ)and said the division is growing 60-70% year-on-year and we be doing Rs 65-to-75 crores in revenue this year. Digital Quotient has a team of over 70 people and provides solutions which include augmented and virtual reality, SMS/IVR/Missed Call Alert Solutions, Mobile Contests and Loyalty Programs, Social Media service, Media Planning, Buying & Execution.