Internet spread is constantly on the rise worldwide. Indeed it is the internet that news guzzlers consult more and more as their primary source of reference and breaking news. The web editions of Indian newspapers, including those in Okhla locality, find an eager readership not just in the metros, but even in small towns. Some 67 per cent of its readerships come from small cities. The online versions of Indian newspapers are read in 62 countries.Despite the positive development, revenue generation for some small and start ups Indian portals is an arduous task.
Launching a portal is easy, but sustaining it and generating revenue are extremely difficult, according to Faraz Akram Khan, who takes care of the technical side of community portal OKHLA TIMES. He said: “The biggest problem that we face is while collecting advertisements. Businessmen are not forthcoming. For the last more than eight months we have been running the portal from our own pocket. But I don’t know how long will we be able to continue like this?”
A quality news portal can only sustain and grow if readers and community are willing to back it financially, claims media expert Amit Shekhar.
Entrepreneur journalist Khursheed Alam says: “Awareness among the locals is important. They should back community portals because they raise their unheard voices. The irony is that people don’t understand the importance of media and hence such portals are closed after sometime. It is difficult to run a quality portal from one’s own pocket. Compared with the newspaper industry, running online newspaper is cheaper but still doing a story needs time and money.”
All this has not stopped youngsters from opening news portals. In the last few years, some fifty portals have come up in Okhla locality, but majority of them have closed down. Some are just surviving by doing cut and paste job. Until the crackdown by search engine giant Google, a few Okhl-based websites made good money as they used to pull out stories from leading websites and get them rehashed and rewritten. Later on the rating of the stories were improved by stuffing key words. After Google introduced changes in its search algorithmic it has become difficult for fake websites to flourish and mint money. For survival, one such website in Abul Fazal Enclave has now overnight started covering Muslim and Islamic issues.
Those who are churning out original stories on day-to-day basis are facing difficulties because they are running on a shoe-string budget. But still they are continuing in the hope that they will be able to generate some revenue with the future of online newspaper getting bright in the coming years.
The phenomenal growth of the Indian online newspaper readership has been made possible by the lead penetration of computers and growing internet connectivity even in the remote interiors. It is understood that while newspaper columnists are read online by 42 per cent people, nearly 95 per cent of newspaper readers regularly browse through e-newspapers -- mainly for breaking news.
According to JuxtConsult’s India internet report, 37 per cent of the current net users come from the top 10 metros, and more than half of the Indian online population comes from outside the eight largest cities, there is from tier II and III cities.
The majority readership is in the age group of 21-40 years, and Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh top the readership list. Professions in the IT, education and media fields constitute almost half (48 per cent) of the readership.
Moreover, the online business is thriving, despite the global slowdown. Online portals in the US, the UK and other countries are doing relatively better than their print editions. The assassination of Osama bin Laden was covered extensively by US websites, including ProPublica and DailyBeast, to name only a few. The explosion in online newspapers in Okhla has produced entrepreneur journalists. Many of them are product of mainstream media.
Also, the internet provides many ways for online business to thrive and for everyone to get a slice of the profits. Internet advertising, already a $15-billion industry in the US, is set to explode in India in coming years. According to a recent Lintas Media Report, internet advertising stood at Rs 215 crore in 2009 (a 43 per cent growth over the previous year), but industry watchers say that it could grow more than ten-fold (to Rs 2,500 crore) by 2011.
Mobile advertising, which is hot in India simply because, for every internet user there are five mobile phone users, is also projected to grow from Rs 40 crore currently to Rs 500 crore by 2011.
By the end of 2010, the internet advertisement market globally was worth almost $61bn, compared with the magazine market at around $60.5bn. In India online advertising rose by 3.1 per cent in the financial year 2008-09 and by 7.1 per cent in the financial year 2010-11. It is going to grow further.