When Bharti Softbank, a subsidiary of Japanese billionaire Masoyashi Son’s Softbank, last month invested Rs 10 crore ($1.6 million) for a 36.5 per cent equity in Scoopwhoop.com, a site that disseminates viral content, it came as a surprise to many. That was more because Scoopwhoop, now seen as India’s own Buzzfeed, had been around for only 15 months.
But an analysis of its traffic and the buzz it has generated seem to justify the investment. Scoopwhoop today drives more traffic than many of the mainstream news and information websites that have come up in India over the past few years. In terms of the total number of visits, it ranks 180th in India and 2,133rd globally, shows digital analytics firm Alexa, an Amazon company.
Business news websites were excluded from the analysis because those would not be directly comparable with sites like Scoopwhoop, which focus more on infotainment.
As late as a couple of years ago, a digital platform was seen only as an extension of the main business for news and media companies. But that seems to have changed now — for both established and new players in the area.
According to the Alexa ranking, Scoopwhoop is the most successful among India’s websites engaged in viral content, news (disseminated in a different format) and information. The rivals Storypick.com (294th), yourstory.com (357th), scroll.in (851st) and India Today Group’s dailyo.in (1,354th) are all far behind on Alexa.
One of the most discussed news dissemination websites, qz.com, which recently started its India wing, ranks 1,720th globally; its India ranking is not available. In what appears to be an interesting trend, a few traditional news giants continue to be ahead of their new counterparts. NDTV.com, for instance, ranks 23rd in India and 234th globally on Alexa. It is followed by moneycontrol.com at 54th, indianexpress.com at 107th and hindustantimes.com at 109th. Indiatimes.com, which disseminates news and many other things, is ranked 10th, while rediff.com is 16th. Timesofindia.com, the website of the country’s largest circulated English daily, though, ranks much lower, at 275 in India, on Alexa.
There has been a sudden steep surge for news applications, given the increasing use of smartphones, and consumption of news on mobile devices. But, the apps of traditional news companies — both new and old — lag those of news aggregators.
According to data available at Google Play Store, Flipboard is the most downloaded on Android devices globally. This news aggregator has been downloaded about 500 million times, while its Bengaluru-headquartered peer Newshunt has got 50 million downloads so far. The Times of India’s news app has been downloaded about 10 million times, while the NDTV app — as also those of Aaj Tak, ABP News Live and Hindu — has got five million downloads so far. Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran’s app has been downloaded one million times, while those of Hindustan Times, India Today and Indian Express about 500,000 times each.
India’s internet population of 243 million, the third-biggest in the world, gets about seven million new smartphone users every month. China has the biggest base of netizens (641 million), and the US stands second (279 million). The rate of growth in internet users, though, is one of the fastest in India, at 14 per cent, compared with China’s four per cent and the US’ seven per cent.