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Arnab stomps into digital space with republicworld.com

MUMBAI: The game has just begun! That is what he had stated on his last day at Times Now. And Republic TV's founder editor Arnab Goswami is living up to that promise.

Two months from the day he announced the launch of the news channel Republic TV he has formally announced the unveiling of its digital cousin --Republicworld.com - on 7 July.

And it looks like an impressive offering to say the least. First of all, the design and the look of republicworld.com is very clean, and visual heavy with news being segregated under various sections right from general news to politics to sport to lifestyle to tech to entertainment. Of course, visitors can also watch Republic TV’s shows such as Arnab’s Sunday debate, The Anupam Kher show, R.Access, Patriot, and the new one: The Nation Wants to Know.

But, the killer app is that the reader can customise the language for the site, according to his preferences. Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, and Odiya are the options given to him.

Republicworld has been able to offer that wide a range of thanks to its partnership with various media houses with eight of them being specifically with digital outlets. The media partners include Business World, OTV, Sambad, News Live, Niyomiya Barta, North East Live, Punjab Kesari, Aajkaal, S Newz, Dainik Bhaskar, Nirmana News, Kashmir Monitor, Lokmat, Vikatan TV, Polimer, Asianetnews.tv, Asianet News, Kannada Prabha, Suvarna News, News Mobile.in; across India and the community partners include tripoto.com, RSJ, LBB.in, yourstory.com, digit.in, and AutoX.

Additionally, what strikes you is the experimentation that is being attempted on republicworld.com in the form of the handful of 360-degree videos that have been put out on the site. Republic's video content is being streamed in HD with the app slated for a launch in the next three weeks. It will feature long-format live and VoD content in the form of vertical videos, especially created for mobile audience as reported by indiantelevision.com on 30 June.

Some may call this as resorting to gimmicks, but Team Republic says they know what they are doing.

Says Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani: “Innovation is very critical to succeed. We were clear that we want to differentiate. Look at the digital success and traditional success stories. Often, one of the primary reasons behind the triumph is technology, which is as important as content. Also, one needs to understand the consumer and the journey across platforms. Therefore, it's critical to make sure that you are able to draw up a strategy that gives you maximum reach.”

Adds Republicworld.com COO Jay Chauhan: “In the digital content space, there is no dominant global player operating out of south Asia, and that’s a big opportunity for us. Republicworld.com is at the intersection of content and technology, so we will keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to constantly engage and improve upon the user experience."

Clearly, Chauhan is the right man for the job. Arnab and Khanchandani poached 20-years NDTV veteran from the Prannoy-run outfit. During his career at the news network, Chauhan headed its technology consulting division and bagged numerous international awards for technical innovation.

The editorial responsibility for republicworld.com has been put in the hands of deputy news editor Sriram Sivaraman. And a team of 30 - including editors, producers and journalists – are running the site.

Says Chauhan: “Within India, regional content consumption is growing exponentially, and with the excellent network of our digital partners, this launch reaffirms our objective to work as a force and consistently engage with our audience in the language and habit of their choice.”

On the technology front, RepublicWorld has tieups with American and Canadian companies. Pierre Friquet (VR director/ writer/ consultant) from Canada and Ando Shah (founder & CEO at Tesseract) from San Francisco trained its producers for a month to shoot content in VR.

Sources indicate that republicworld.com will be burning cash in excess of Rs 2 crore a month, something which Khanchandani is unwilling to confirm. Says he: "Content delivery is a significant cost, and it will expand. Our investment will increase as more and more consumers will start consuming."

With that high a burn rate, it’s imperative that revenues start kicking in – and quickly. But, Khanchandani says that has already been taken care of as some of the ad deals it has signed for Republic TV include republicworld.com. He and his team will be reaching out to sign on newer advertisers too.

He explains: "We were waiting to make the digital announcement, and now, it's a good time to go to market. We will have sponsored content. If you look at the landscape of display advertising, it has changed significantly. If you see revenues of Yahoo and Microsoft, display business has come down -- dramatically. Video is easier to buy and create. Video advertising, native advertising and sponsored content is what we are looking at."

Republicworld.com seems to be luring in visitors if one looks at its traffic statistics, courtesy Amazon-owned web tracker Alexa. According to this morning’s update, Alexa showed that republicworld.com had screamed up 179,000-odd spots to rank at 38,167, amongst all sites globally. And its Indian rank is a healthy 2,830. What’s important is the engagement in terms of the amount of time being spent on the site: a healthy 3 minutes and 33 seconds per visitor session. However, it has a high bounce rate of 65 per cent.

As TV viewers would confirm, Arnab does this to people.

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