News18’s website is now live in Bengali, Urdu and Gujarati languages as it  starts its push into other vernacular languages. News18 went live in Hindi at the end of December 2016 (Q3FY17) as it rebranded the earlier website In the following quarter (Q3FY17), parent company Network18 said that it would merge, the vernacular language website, into News18 umbrella. At the time, it said that it would content from ETV regional news content from across 14 languages.

In the current quarter (Q2FY17), News18 said that the vernacular vertical saw users increasing by 150% on desktop versus the previous quarter, and by 26% on mobile.

MediaNama has written to Santhosh Menon, Network18’s chief content officer, about the website’s plans and other Indic languages. We will update once we hear from him.

Update: A spokesperson for Network18 replied that the company will be expanding to Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Assamese, and Punjabi. Network18 added that it has 17 reporters from both News18 and ETV and that their content team’s size was 115.

The Gujarati website allows users to look for local news in different regions of Gujarat. Readers can look for news from Ahmedabad, North Gujarat, Central Gujarat, South Gujarat and the Kutch-Saurashtra region. Similarly, the Urdu website allows users to look for regional news in North India, East India, Central India, West India and South India. The Bengali website allows readers to find local news in Kolkata, North Bengal and South Bengal. Interestingly, the Bengali website has a separate news section for Bangladesh as well.

Other Indic language websites

Network18’s push for Indic languages is understandable. A Google and KPMG report on Indic languages showed that around 180 million Internet users could be added by 2021 for pushing news in local languages. With more users coming on the Internet and consuming content in their languages, it would allow for better monetization in the future.

News18 joins a number of other media houses which are starting websites in vernacular languages.

  • In September, Online news portal The Wire announced its launch of Urdu website. The news portal initially launched an English version and then a Hindi version in February 2017.
  • In January,  Indian Express Digital, the Indian Express group’s digital arm, launched, operating out of Kerala. This is in addition to its existing Hindi and Marathi publications. The publication plans to launch sites in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla next.
  • Catch News also has Hindi website.
  • In October 2015, Times Internet launched a regional language news and entertainment portal called Samayam in Tamil, Malayalam, and Telugu.
  • The same month, the Quint launched a Hindi version of its website.