Just three months after the editor of the British newspaper The Guardian Group bought Rafat Ali’s ContentNext Media and his blog collection for about $ 30 million, one of those blogs went wrong. The blog in question is content Sutra, the Indian counterpart to his bigger and better-known brother, paid for the content (both belong to the digital media business). ContentSutra was the second-largest ContentNext blog until recently, surpassing even mocoNews.
But if you look closely, traffic has fallen off a cliff. Posts are sporadic and usually consist of news summaries or occasional posts from publishers about paid content. ContentNext and Guardian are currently negotiating with media companies in India about possible distribution and cross-promotion deals. ContentNext is rumored to be in talks with HT Media (publisher of Hindustan Times), 9.9 Media, and others. We also received an unconfirmed tip that the Guardian is trying to download the content of the Sutra altogether, but Rafat Ali says this is not true.
Anyway, the site doesn’t work as it used to. The editor who created ContentSutra for two years, Nikhil Pahwa, appeared in late May and a month later, on June 27, launched his competitive blog Medianama. Pahwa did not participate in ContentNext and was frustrated by the lack of a plan to take it to the next level. The Guardian deal was announced two weeks after the launch of Medianama. Pahwa said to me:
Speaking of The Guardian, I, like everyone else, heard about it the day it was announced. All I knew beforehand was that ContentNext had raised another round of venture capital. The interest in the market is evidenced by the fact that contentSutra was the second property of ContentNext at all times.
One reason (but clearly not the main one) for the activity was the international exposure that the content would provide through the Sutra. In an interview with paid content, Carolyn McCall, CEO of the Guardian Media Group, explained ContentNext’s call about Indian media ownership:
International plans: The common interests of companies in the United Kingdom, the United States, and India are the most important part of the adjustment. McCall: “India is an emerging market and I think it is doing very well, and there are great opportunities there … I think we can help each other in India because we have been looking at this market for a long time and with such determination. ‘
After Pahwa left, Ali started looking for a new editor for contentSutra. He’s still looking. Meanwhile, Medianama publishes more (and better) posts per day on the Indian digital media scene than contentSutra. A blog is as good as its authors.
This is the problem with blogs. They are incredibly efficient from a work point of view. You can introduce a multimedia feature that covers an entire subcontinent with an editor. On the other hand, when you create a brand or sub-brand around a person, that brand gets hurt when the person walks out the door. (This is a problem that all blogs face, so it’s a good idea to distribute resources to writers and publishers.)