Home / Companies / News /  Huffington Post partners Times Group to launch India edition

New Delhi: US news and opinion website Huffington Post has signed a deal with the Times Group to launch an Indian edition of the website, the two companies said in a statement on Thursday.

The website is set for launch later this year.

The English-language website will bring together Huffington Post’s news and blogging platform and the Times Group’s local expertise and reach, the companies said while announcing the partnership.

Huffington Post will target India’s rapidly expanding Internet user base, which is expected to reach 370 million by 2015, according to the statement. The online paper will cover subjects ranging from politics, media and entertainment to technology, religion and lifestyle. It will also open up Huffington Post’s blogging platform “to anyone in the country with a story to tell", it said.

The announcement was made by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and Satyan Gajwani, chief executive officer (CEO) of Times Internet Ltd, the digital arm of the Times Group.

“I’m delighted to launch HuffPost India, which will be our 12th edition since we began our international expansion three years ago," Huffington said. India was a hub of global news, she said, adding: “I’m extremely grateful for the chance to bring HuffPost to India to tell the stories that matter most, and just as important, to help people throughout India tell their stories themselves, in words, in pictures and in video."

“The Huffington Post is the first real digital-first news success story globally, and their impact is seen across the world," said Gajwani. “We are excited to combine HuffPost’s world-class product with our local reach with consumers and advertisers to tailor-make a great new destination for Indian consumers." Gajwani did not disclose the structure of the deal with the Huffington Post Media Group or the investments to be made in the digital brand.

Huffington Post joins the growing Times Local Partners portfolio that includes global digital brands such as Business Insider, Gizmodo and Lifehacker. A part of Times Internet, Times Local Partners is a business unit that was developed in 2013 to partner emerging global digital businesses in order to build local alliances.

The Huffington Post Media Group’s CEO Jimmy Maymann said India is a critical destination for any global media company. “With Indian household consumption predicted to continue to grow nearly 20% per year, this partnership gives us an ideal entry into what is expected to become the world’s fifth largest consumer market within the next 10 years," he said.

Huffington Post and the Times Group will establish an editorial team based in New Delhi. In India, Huffington Post will compete with digital news brands such as Firstpost, Newslaundry, Scroll and Quartz. Asked if the market had room for so many players, Gajwani said that only the leadership brands will command attention and that he expects Huffington Post to be the “dominant player in the space".

“There is room for all", said Samir Patil, founder and CEO of Scroll. “There is hunger among consumers of digital media as there is still not enough content. You cannot just publish the newspaper content on digital. The medium and the message have to match," he said.

“The challenge, however, is how to scale up the digital brands and make them sustainable. That said, advertising on digital is growing. Its transition from print to digital will happen. What we need to ensure is that our cost structure matches the likely revenue," said Patil.

Founded by Arianna Huffington in the US, Huffington Post is now a part of AOL Inc.. It has 86 million monthly global unique visitors (desktop only, comScore, June 2014). It has editions in the UK, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, the Maghreb countries, Germany, Brazil and South Korea.

The Times Group publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times newspapers, which compete with HT Media Ltd’s Hindustan Times and Mint in some markets.

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