Digicontent Ltd Management Discussions.

Indian Economy

India ranked 5th among the largest economies of the world (in terms of GDP at current US dollar prices), with a size of $2.9 trillion in 2019. According to the International Monetary Funds (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO) released in June 2020, the Indian economy grew at 4.2% in FY 2019-20 compared to 6.1% in FY 2018-19. The softening of growth was on account of multiple headwinds such as slowdown in private consumption expenditure and gross fixed capital formation. Additionally, production and import of capital goods, the two key factors which influence investment activity, continued to contract during the year. The slowdown in consumption impacted most of the consumer oriented sectors of the economy.

Outlook

The Indian economy was expected to revive from the cyclical slowdown in FY 2020-21. However, on account of the restrictions imposed to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country starting March 2020, significant disruption is expected across multiple sectors, which have negatively impacted the outlook. The lockdown is likely to have a sizeable impact on the economy, most significantly on consumption, which is its biggest component. The Indian economy is expected to contract by 4.5% in FY 2020-21, as per IMF WEO June 2020. However, Indias GDP is expected to witness a sharp rebound in FY 2021-22 with a growth rate of 6.0% as containment efforts are gradually unwound and economic activity normalizes.

 

(Source: IMF WEO, RBI, Economic Survey 2019-20, KPMG Report)

Industry Overview

Indian Media & Entertainment Industry

The Indian Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry reached a size of $25.7 billion in CY 2019, registering a growth of 9% over CY 2018. The industry has proved its resilience yet again, growing at a rate higher than Indias GDP, backed by rising consumer demand. The industry has been largely driven by increasing digitization and internet usage, as internet penetration and adoption of digital media in India are growing at an unprecedented rate, creating huge opportunities to tap into uncharted areas within the digital space.

 

(Source: EY M&E Report)

Digital Advertising

The technological advancements in the ever-evolving digital industry have opened various opportunities to interact with the audience. Marketers can now choose innovative ways to reach out and cater to demand, creating unforgettable experiences. Digitization is one of the strongest factors encouraging greater consumption of content on the internet.

Indian digital market is set to become the 2nd largest segment within the Media and Entertainment industry by CY 2021. Digital Advertisement has grown by 24% YoY in CY 2019, reaching H 191.5 billion. The growth was driven by increased consumption of content on digital platforms and marketers tilt towards measurability and performance. The top five categories contributed 76% of total digital advertising spends and share of programmatic advertising has increased.

The monetisation in the M&E sector is reliant on advertising to a large extent. The recessionary impact of COVID-19 on key advertising sectors such as FMCG, e-commerce, automobiles, financial services and real estate, which are facing their own challenges and take some time to recover, could have a knock-on effect on the advertising revenues in FY 2020-21.

Major Trends in Digital Advertising

Growing share of regional languages

Presently, English continues to be the primary language of the internet. However, focus on vernacular has been increasing recently. It is expected that in a few years, Hindi would become the most used language on the internet, while Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu speaking internet users are expected to form ~30% of the total Indian language internet user base. Digital advertising spend on regional languages is estimated to reach to ~30% of the total digital advertising spends in the coming years.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Digital Advertising

The rise of AI and ML in advertising has had a profound impact on the industry, allowing marketers to deliver relevant and engaging advertisements to customers.

Mobiles keep digital advertising upbeat

Mobiles are the main growth drivers in the rise of digital media consumption. The time spent on smartphones is likely to see persistent growth in coming future.

Advertising platforms founded on user behaviour

Tighter data regulations, greater advertisement blocking capabilities, privacy concerns and increasing competition are expected to push advertisers to do more with less data. This will drive advertisers to understand user behaviour and accordingly, discover platforms that drive the audience.

 

(Source: EY M&E Report, KPMG M&E Report, Pitch Madison Advertising Report)

Digital Content

Today India is amongst the top countries in the world in terms of digital consumption of services, second only to China. This has led to many traditional media formats prioritising their digital strategy and focusing on combining the text and video format.

A majority of the countrys internet users are mobile phone users that take advantage of alternatives to expensive connections. This growth in internet and mobile phone users is expected to further augment the growth of the digital media industry. There is also an increasing focus on regional content.

Digital content consumption has seen an increase due to the lockdown and movement restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus. Even after the restriction are lifted post COVID-19, the content consumption is expected to remain high on account of habit formation. Certain sections of the consumers may remain apprehensive of crowd and display a preference for at-home media and entertainment.

 

(Source: KPMG M&E Reports, Statista)

Company Overview

Digicontent Limited (Digicontent) operates in the realm of Entertainment & Digital Innovation business. It provides content sourcing services and is engaged in the dissemination of news, knowledge, information, entertainment and content of general interest through various digital and electronic media, and management of advertising time and space on news websites hindustantimes.com, livemint.com and livehindustan.com. It also operates movie entertainment and review website desimartini.com, runs Fever Audio Tools, maintains a repository of copyright images and carries out brand promotion activities. The Entertainment & Digital Innovation business has significant potential for the growth and the Company is pursuing this opportunity in a focused manner with an independent strategy to maximize value creation for various stakeholders. With a focus on enhancing capabilities, improving customer experiences and maintaining agility, Digicontent is well positioned to spearhead the innovations in this era of digitization.

Product Portfolio

Digital Content Business

Digicontent produces, sources or has rights to high quality and large volume of multimedia literary content through its business. It specialises in development of literary content in the digital media sphere. The Company provides content sourcing services in the form of news formats.

hindustantimes.com

One of the fastest in the business of breaking news, hindustantimes.com has been catering to the ever growing market for digital news and information consumption in India. It has seen a sharp growth in user base with monthly page views growing by 337% and unique users by 28% on a YoY basis in March 2020 (Comscore for March 2020). It has positioned itself as a serious news destination. In an era when fake news and fact checking are the new buzzwords, it stands apart as a credible and authentic news destination. A trusted network of journalists adds to the repository of multimedia content generated by the online editorial team.

livehindustan.com

Livehindustan is one of the leading as well as fastest growing Hindi news website in India with 166% and 153% YoY growth in monthly page views and unique users, respectively, in March 2020. The portal carries exclusive news and multimedia content, detailed cricket coverage, in-depth stock market updates and business analysis from an extensive repository of content by the online editorial team, which is updated round the clock with the latest breaking news. It also provides 360 degree coverage of major events through live blogs, interviews, analysis, opinions, videos, podcasts and more. It draws on the legacy of the print brand to serve credible, authentic content to its dedicated user base.

livemint.com

Livemint is a premier business news website, which is well positioned as a reliable and credible source of business news owing to its cutting-edge product innovation. It is first among its peers in India to courageously adopt and embrace a mobile-first design, which is likely to set off a trend in the industry. The portal provides comprehensive business news coverage from the online news desk. User centric, personalised and mobile first approach has resulted in a YoY growth of 550% in monthly page views and 634% in monthly unique users in March 2020. It was ranked No. 2 business news website in terms of unique users. Its efficient editorial team with a robust content line-up helps the publication to generate real-time content, targeting trending keywords and ensuring higher traffic.

desimartini.com

Desimartini is one of the best movie review and ratings website. Viewers get access to latest trailers, videos, songs, celebrity information, news, movie synopsis and release dates on the website. It is also available across platforms such as SMS, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps. During the year under review, Desimartini mobile and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have been redesigned for deeper engagement with search traffic and rankings matching up to the social traffic. Mobile App contributes nearly 90% of the websites traffic. A consistent effort has been put towards revamping the website to improve search and rankings. Going forward, the focus is on covering a larger segment in entertainment across television, regional cinema and OTT platforms leveraging our strong foothold in Bollywood.

Fever Audio Tools (FAT)

FAT started out with distributing non-music radio content to telecom partners for VAS consumption. It later branched out into creation and aggregation of audio and video content for consumption of mobile and digital users, across a wide range of content genre viz. celebrity-led content, bollywood news, audio drama, mythology, health & fitness, biographies, reality shows etc. It has also diversified into in-store music and promotion business by partnering with multiple format stores, malls, restaurants and cafes.

healthshots.com

Healthshots is a unique health and wellness website for millennial women. It offers tailor-made and personalized content on health and wellness, verified by health and wellness experts and industry influencers. Designed for young millennial women searching for cues on feeling good and healthy, it enjoys a strong footing based on its unique content, communities, features, podcasts, videos, and infographics on mental health, fitness, nutrition, feminine hygiene, and beauty. It aims to engage its readers and brands with impactful integrations. Featuring intuitive tools, it is a destination for holistic wellness that informs, educates, and inspires.

HT Auto

HT Auto website was launched in November 2019. It covered every major test drive of new product launches in 2020 in video as well as text formats. It crossed the 1 million users mark in March 2019 and has a strong presence on social media. The website carried a 360 degree coverage of Auto Expo 2020 with all the latest unveilings and related videos.

Livemint Subscription

In February 2020 we introduced the subscription model on Livemint. The initial months have seen a very good response in terms of subscription demand. We have also partnered with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) whereby we are giving access of WSJ content to the subscribers along with Livemint.

Financial Performance Overview

Revenue from operations

During the year, revenue from operations stood at H 259 crore, softening down by 3% from H 268 crore in the previous year, primarily on account of muted advertising environment driven by macroeconomic headwinds.

Profitability

The Companys Operating EBITDA Margin declined from 11.1% in FY 2018-19 to 9.3% in FY 2019-20. Net Profit Margin also reduced from -4.4% in FY 2018-19 to -12.7% in FY 2019-20, owing to revenue softness and increase in cost on account of investment in business. Accordingly, Return on Net Worth reduced from -18.1% in FY 2018-19 to -107.2% in FY 2019-20.

Debt Equity Ratio

The Debt Equity Ratio increased to 3.2 times as on March 31 2020 from 1.4 times as on March 31 2019. This was led by reduction in equity due to loss incurred by the Company during the year.

Interest Coverage Ratio

As on March 31 2020, the Interest Coverage Ratio stood at -2.2 times as compared to -0.8 times as on March 31 2019, as the profits for the Company have declined.

Editorial Highlights

Some of the key editorial initiatives undertaken during FY 2019-20 include unprecedented coverage of the May 2019 elections, live coverage of special events including the Budget and a complete overhaul of the Livemint website. It not only revamped the content and adopted a personalized strategy to attract consumers, but also marked the Companys subscription journey with the Livemint-The Wall Street Journal partnership.

hindustantimes.com

Outbreak of Coronavirus

To generate awareness about the deadly Novel Coronavirus outbreak, hindustantimes.com not only relied on stories and videos to explain its ramifications, but also created an online Coronavirus tracker to track the spread of infection and death toll around the world, on an hourly basis. It has emerged as a credible trusted platform for credible news to counter the spread of misinformation and fake news surrounding the pandemic.

Citizenship Controversy

Amidst a plethora of conflicting reports on social media, hindustantimes.com ran a fact-based campaign explaining and analysing the evolving situation, including both text and video. It garnered 2 million page views and over 1 million video views (on-site and YouTube combined) on the controversy over the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Gandhi@150

The Company ran a special collaborative multimedia campaign to celebrate 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. We published over 150 text stories, analyses and opinions. Besides, 17 high quality videos showcased Gandhijis journey from Champaran to Sabarmati Ashram and retracing the historic Dandi March. The campaign attracted over 1 million page views while video views across platforms crossed 100,000.

Leadership Summit

hindustantimes.com led an unparalleled coverage of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2019. A total of 68 stories were published on the site with over 90% of them being done by the digital team. The site saw over 103% and 218% growth in page views and users compared to last year to reach 731k and 522k respectively. A total of 86 videos were published which garnered more than 10 million views on-site and YouTube.

Coverage of General Elections 2019

hindustantimes.com put up an unprecedented digital coverage of the 2019 General Elections and 4 assembly elections. We put together interactive data widgets, multimedia features and exclusive data-led stories culminating in the first ever 12-hour live on-site stream on the counting day, in collaboration with known TV personality Vikram Chandra. The site went on to bag 10 million page views on the counting day.

livehindustan.com

Election Specials

The online news portal provided extensive coverage of the general elections, assembly elections as well as the municipal elections in Chhattisgarh. On counting day, real time updates were given during vote counting and results declaration. In Delhi, a special series was curated on the elections, Dilli Ka Dangal, which carried interviews of eminent personalities. The team conducted the election specials with a balanced approach, covering the opinions and views of varied parties.

Budget Special

Livehindustan presented a variety of articles before the important budget session. It not only dealt with budget expectations, but also covered in-depth analysis of the budget session and the various proposals and initiatives announced by the Finance Minister. It also offered live coverage of the Budget session and provided minute-by-minute updates.

Machhar ko Takkar

A campaign with more than 200 stories, starting from July 2019 to October 2019 helped to spread awareness about dengue and other diseases caused by mosquitoes. The stories focused on the prevention and preparedness of the government as well as private hospitals. Several stories also highlighted loopholes in the preparations and sought timely intervention to tackle dengue menace in Delhi-NCR and other cities.

livemint.com

All the major news ranging from the recent Yes Bank crisis to Coronavirus outbreak, Livemint has focused on key issues through special topic pages, which have helped the Company to build strong traction and enabled users to get easy accessibility to the news. News and events including Auto Expo, Namaste Trump, Jet Airways crisis, Ayodhya Verdict and Rediscovering Gandhi were covered. Digital-first-live webcast, live blogs, and event specific stories of events such as Mint Visionaries, Investment Summit and Banking Conclave were also covered.

Videos and Live Streams

Video Push

In a bid to emerge as a multimedia player in the evolving digital space, hindustantimes.com upped its video focus in the last one year, tripling its growth in terms of video views and engagement. From about 1 million on-site monthly views across domains in January 2019, they now have 9 million views reported on JW player in March 2020. JW player has been integrated across sites.

Growth on YouTube

The subscriber base of HTs Youtube channel has grown from 0.2 million subscribers in June 2018 to 2 million as on April 14 2020.

Live Streams

In-house capability has been developed by hindustantimes.com to conduct live streams on every trending story. The team does almost two live streams every week and is exploring opportunities to open its web channel for smart TVs.

Human Resource

Digicontent believes that people are its greatest assets and provide an edge over the others, in all qualitative and innovative initiatives undertaken by it. The primary aim is to make the Company a great place to work with a culture of diversity, performance, future readiness and growth. As a result, the primary focus is on talent acquisition, management and development. Human Resources (HR) is a strategic partner to the business and works closely with all teams to set up the best talent pool for the Company.

Apart from work, the Company has designed an employee engagement calendar for motivating its employees. It includes formal and informal engagement initiatives like spot recognitions, health and fitness options, interest group clubs, festival celebrations and high impact events like Town hall and Rewards & Recognition to motivate employees.

Building a fast paced and future ready Company has been our key focus area. The digital world is growing leaps and bounds, and the organisation has to be designed and equipped to handle the pace and disruption happening in the sector. The organisation structure, roles and responsibilities and talent search have all been critical to the building of the Company. Readiness for pre-boarding talent has also been put in place. The HR policies and processes have been documented to build a dynamic and digitally savvy organisation. The employee strength of the Company (including its subsidiary i.e. HT Digital Streams Limited) stood at 1,661 as on March 31 2020.

Women at Workplace

The Company has in place strict polices for women in workplace. It is fully complaint with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The Companys formulated policy is available on the employee intranet portal. The Internal Committee (IC) is in place. We have received no complaints during FY 2019-20. The Company has a mandatory online module for all employees to increase awareness. The Company is fully compliant with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Risk Management

The Company has established a risk management framework to identify and mitigate risks arising from external and internal factors. A risk identification exercise is carried out periodically to identify various strategic, operational, financial and compliance-related risks. These are evaluated for their likelihood and potential impact.

Few risks and uncertainties that can affect the business include the inherent risk of cybercrimes and data breach that may impact reputation, exposure to litigations and competition from emerging digital platforms like OTT platforms and other social media apps.

Potential risks are reviewed on an ongoing basis and mitigating controls are deliberated upon as an integral part of decision-making. To stay ahead of the competition and minimise exposure to risk, the Company has taken various initiatives like continuous engagement with the Editorial team and upgradation of Editorial processes to ensure factual accuracy of content published, greater focus on reaching newer segments & geographies and progressively moving towards new revenue streams such as podcasts, vernacular websites, subscription models etc. Further, the usage of an automated compliance tool to monitor status of statutory compliances across all locations/ functions helps the Company to minimise its exposure to any non-compliance to statutory and legal requirements.

Further, in light of the COVID-19 scenario, the Company is continuously evaluating the evolving situation and taking necessary steps to mitigate its impact, while ensuring business continuity. The Company is also taking cost optimization efforts across businesses and functions.

Internal Control

The Company has an effective system of internal controls corresponding to its size, nature of business and complexity of operations. The internal control mechanism comprises of a well - defined organizational structure with clearly defined authority and responsibility levels and comprehensive documented policies, guidelines and procedures governing the operations of respective business areas and functions. These controls have been designed to safeguard the assets and interests of the Company and its stakeholders and also ensure compliance with Companys policies, procedures and applicable regulations. Owing to continuously evolving business practices, these controls are regularly updated by the management. Companys focus on technology and automation has driven the establishment of appropriate automated controls and has further enhanced the existing control framework. A robust ERP system is used for accounting across locations. The Company also has a Shared Service Centre and CRM application supporting centralized and standardized procurement, payment and approval processes. These systems enhance the reliability of financial and operational information by facilitating system driven control activities, segregation of duties and enabling stricter controls.

The internal control system is supplemented by an extensive program of internal audits and their reviews by the management.

The in-house internal audit function supported by professional external audit firms conducts comprehensive risk focused audits and evaluates the effectiveness of the internal control structure across locations and functions on a regular basis. In addition to internal audit activities, the Company has also developed an internal financial control framework to periodically review the effectiveness of controls laid down across all critical processes. In addition, the Company uses an online compliance management tool, and has established concurrent audit mechanism for ensuring effective compliance oversight. Further, the Company has an Audit Committee of Directors which meets at least once in every quarter to review internal control systems, accounting processes, financial information and other related areas.

Outlook

FY 2019-20 was a challenging year for the Indian Media & Entertainment industry as advertising spend was impacted on account of weak macroeconomic environment. In FY 2020-21, the performance is expected to be impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. This has required the government to take measures such as isolation, lockdowns, and widespread closures as a means to slow the spread of the virus, protect lives and allow health care systems to cope.

In these trying times for the country and the world, when people are turning to using digital services, the Company has been on the forefront to provide timely and accurate news, information and entertainment content to its audience through its highly credible digital platforms. It has emerged as a trusted resource against misinformation and fake news. Hence, we expect a high demand for our services. However, it may take some time for the advertising spends to reflect this increased demand, as the current environment is likely to impact discretionary spends by advertisers. As we navigate through this unprecedented crisis, we will continue to provide engaging content to our audience and innovative solutions to our advertisers.