Hindustan Times has launched the online edition for its Delhi edition. & #BANNER1 & # While currently the beta version of the site has been launched, the official launch will happen only on October 15.
Sanjay Trehan, chief of Internet, HT Media Ltd, says, "The online edition is more than just scanning the newspaper and uploading it. We have a host of interactive features on the HT e-paper."
The e-paper has features where one can search for articles and pictures and also zoom in pictures for a closer look. A unique feature of the website is the audio facility where visitors can also listen to the audio format of the story. Apart from these, the e-paper also has other facilities like mailing the story to a friend.
The e-paper is essentially targeted at the NRI community. Trehan says, "The e-paper will have the same look and feel of Hindustan Times, digitised in the same format."
The product has been priced initially at $20 per year which will be increased to $25 per year after six months. Trehan says, "The product has been strategically priced as the paper edition will be 10 times costlier in a country such as the US."
Keeping the NRI community in mind, the site is updated every morning between 4-5 am which means that a person sitting in New York can read the edition immediately at around 5-6 pm US time.
In the first phase, only HT Delhi edition and the HT City will be available. In the second phase, which is three months from now, the Lucknow and Chandigarh editions would also be available.
Before launching the product, HT had done an online survey which indicated that 7 per cent of the 16,000 respondents were willing to pay for this kind of service. Trehan says, "out of 2 million unique visitors we have every month, 60 per cent are NRIs. And, we are hoping that 5 per cent of these unique visitors from the NRI community will subscribe for this service."
He adds, "To be very realistic, even if one per cent of this 1.2 million NRI visitors subscribe for the e-paper, we will be able to break even." The company is expecting an revenue of Rs 2.5 crore in the initial phase.
When asked about the strategy behind launching an e-paper, when HT already has a product in the form of hindustantimes.com, Trehan says, "The NRI community likes to read the online edition in the same way the physical newspaper has been designed. This has also provided us with an opportunity to create an archive of our editions digitally."
He further clarifies that within the next three-six months period, the HTML version of the newspaper will be discontinued and only the e-paper will exist. The HTML version will only have news from other agencies and not exclusive Hindustan Times news."
Talking about the possibility of an advertising revenue from the e-paper, Trehan says, "Our media marketing team and HT Internet is in discussions to come up with an unanimous decision. Hopefully, when all the editions are included in the e-paper, we will charge a token amount from the advertisers for providing an Internet platform and even if we increase the rates by 1 per cent, the amount would not be negligible for our Rs 500 crore turnover."
Apart from these, the company is also targeting SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), exporters and travel tourism companies, who extensively target the NRI community, to advertise on the e-paper.
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