The fine people at MCV had a chat with Avinash Bali and myself about the imminent launch of IGN India.
Couple of highlights:
Ziff Davis had been in talks with several potential local partners to bring IGN and AskMen to India. What made you decide on Times Internet?
Doree: Correct, in fact, the deal is actually the result of two years of discussion and negotiation in this exciting market, with practically every major media company in India - so it was important to get it right. Competition for the contract was particularly intense in the last six months, but Times won because it shares our vision for the brands locally – not just on IGN, but on AskMen, which is as big as IGN in India. Its experience with premium media brands and confidence as the market leader with a huge network of owned and operated properties – we hope will also help drive a successful long-term partnership.
Does the partnership with Times entail any specific efforts to popularise the IGN brand outside the website itself and through other Times outlets, such as TV or print?
Doree: We see this as one of the clear benefits of working with Times. There are no announcements to make yet, but if you look at our other international regions, you will see a lot of cool things happening, like the massive IGN Convention recently in Dubai and then in Bahrain. In some regions, you will see local versions of The Daily Fix syndicated on broadcast TV. In Benelux, we’re on radio every week, and in more regions than not, you’ll see a range of print support. These brands are all about real world engagement with consumers across various media, not just the web browser.
What sort of content can readers expect from IGN India? Will there be local game reviews or will it be restricted to news and local features?
Bali: AAA reviews will be taken from the international editions (US, UK and AU largely), but local games will be reviewed in-house by the team. Besides that, we’ll be concentrating our efforts on covering all relevant aspects of the Indian gaming industry in the form of news, features, event coverage, etc. But as you know, IGN is more than games. We’ll also be looking into entertainment coverage that complements a gamer’s lifestyle. We’re talking comics, movies, technology, gaming accessories and a whole lot more.
You’ve mentioned that IGN already attracts close to 1 million visitors from India per month. How does that compare to other markets, especially emerging markets, that you’ve launched in? How much of an impact do you expect the localised website to have?
Doree: In terms of our existing audience sizes, India is one of the biggest regions and certainly the biggest single country after our owned and operated markets, which is why we started discussions there so early in the process. You can get a sense of the impact we’ll have in India from looking at our other regional successes. IGN Middle East has nearly 18 months’ growth behind it, fuelled by both its English and Arabic content, and is now a similar size to India overall. IGN in South East Asia continues to grow and is now pushing towards the 3m unique visitors mark. In Europe, we are seeing a lot of success, for example In Spain, we have seen growth of 15X since they launched a year ago and they just hit 2.5m unique visitors in September. Best of all, all regions are performing commercially as well.