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Network18’s digital news properties see revenue growth, but BookMyShow continues to struggle

Network18’s digital news properties, which includes websites like moneycontrol.com and News18.com, saw a 38% year-over-year growth in terms of revenue, as the company said it saw a sharp growth in advertising in the quarter ending September 30, 2020. The company’s on-demand digital content platform Voot saw an improvement in monthly active users, however, its ticketing platform BookMyShow continued to feel the brunt of theatre closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group’s streaming platform Voot witnessed a “significant improvement” in monthly active users (MAU) with the resumption of fresh content during the pandemic, the company said without specifying the exact number. The average user spent around 52 minutes on the OTT service every day. Voot, it said, “enjoys the most loyal audience amongst broadcaster-OTTs.” It faces competition from rival broadcasters like Zee, and Sony who offer similar services, along with platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Ticketing platform BookMyShow continues to face pressure due to the shuttering of cinema halls and event venues due to the pandemic. The company is optimising costs “across the board” to mitigate the impacts. However, Network18 told investors recent government directives to reopen cinema halls are “major positive”.

The conglomerate told investors in its earnings release for Q2 2020-21 that the pandemic has changed consumer habits in favour of media consumption in general, and it believes its TV and digital properties will grow in tandem.

Company reports ₹68 crore net profit in quarter: Network18 posted a net profit of ₹68 crore for the quarter ended September 30. In the same quarter last year, the company had posted a net loss of ₹25 crore. Its consolidated revenue from operations, however, dropped from ₹ 1,174 crore from Q2 2019-20 to ₹1,061 in Q2 2020-21. Simultaneously, its total expenses fell from ₹1,205 in Q2 2019-20 to ₹977 crore in Q2 2020-21.

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‘Digital News business swung into profitability’

Network18’s Digital News segment — with MoneyControl, News18.com and Firstpost — posted a profit of ₹3 crore in Q2 2020-21, compared to the ₹24 crore loss it recorded in the same quarter last financial year. “Digital News business has swung into profitability, as it has gained scale and shed non- remunerative costs,” the company said.

The company said its digital news/information segment recorded ~157 million unique visitors during the quarter. This is significantly fewer than the ~172 unique visitor it had reported in the previous quarter.

  • Moneycontrol’s subscription service “Moneycontrol Pro” continued to grow, signalling a greater demand for premium content, the company said. It didn’t mention specifics such as subscription numbers. In the previous quarter, the group had said Moneycontrol Pro had garnered more than 2.5 lakh users.
  • News18.com has over 118 million average monthly users, who read its coverage in 13 languages. The website is now the #2 player in the general news category, the company claimed, much ahead of incumbents such as NDTV and India Today. News18.com’s vernacular segment is also seeing a “strong growth” in viewership.
  • Firstpost reportedly improved its traffic with its subscription-only newsletter Globetrotter, FP Conversations and its special IPL page.

Adil Zainulbhai, chair of Network18, said that the group’s businesses had recovered from the impact of COVID-19 to a large degree. “We continue to invest into all our businesses and in particular Digital with an aim to make our flagship properties the most compelling value propositions for viewers,” he said.

Earnings release | Financial results

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