Traditional media, and specifically the print media, don’t seem to be too worried about the web being competition. Possibly justified, since, unlike their counterparts in the US, their circulation numbers don’t seem to be dipping. Which is perhaps why, they don’t think much of web 2.0 or the potential it offers to them. For now, they’re satisfied with saying that they are on the web too.
In fact, the TV sites like CNN IBN and even NDTV to a certain extent looked much more closer to what a media site should be, online. Even they have some way to go before they can take on, say a CNN. I recently saw India Today’s site, which shows some promise.
But I’m wondering if the story of traditional media websites and pure web players is a little like the old hare and tortoise story, roles played respectively. Consider this, the JuxtConsult 2008 report says that checking news is the 4th most common activity that Indians indulge in, on the Internet. The same report shows Yahoo as the most preferred site for this purpose, with MoneyControl and CricInfo taking the top spots in Financial News and Cricket news respectively. At a circulation of 31.46 lakhs, why doesn’t TOI find a place there? If we take into account that the Internet in india is still at a nascent stage, don’t the already popular dailies have a good chance of replicating their success on the internet, especially if they start early and already have a good credibility factor in that space?
And this is not restricted to English media. With every online player realising the importance of vernacular, even the regional language players cannot afford to stand and watch. Which perhaps Malayala Manorama has realised, because the last few days saw a flurry of activity in pushing their website as well as their matrimonial site. One could say that the latter is a late entrant, but in both cases, MM is heavily leveraging their strengths in traditional media. This is of course, in addition to the news channel and radio stations. Perfectly poised, I’d say.
Meanwhile, on another and what I would consider a more dangerous front, there are entities like Instablogs, which in addition to a wonderful design, does a superb mix of news and user generated content, including the recently added user-generated-video-news, all of that based out of Simla. Sigh. Not to forget webdunia, which though does not boast of a cool interface like the former, is doing very well on the regional media front.
With the rapid penetration of the mobile, the increasing access of the internet through mobile, and the vernacular factor, I’m wondering if the race in India will buck the regular trends shown globally, and suddenly swing in favor of the new media players, while the hare is caught napping.