HT Media, one of India’s leading media groups, launched Mint, an ambitious and bold business daily, in 2007. Mint’s arch-rival would be The Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper, owned by HT Media’s own arch-rival, the Times Group.
Led by former Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editor Raju Narisetti, designed by famous newspaper designer Mario Garcia, and staffed by a bevvy of talented journalists, Mint was HT Media’s talisman in its fight against the Times Group.
For a while, it looked as if HT Media had pulled off the impossible, too. It took millennial Mint barely any time to beat much older players like Business Standard (BS), The Hindu Business Line, and The Financial Express to become a clear #2 among English business dailies.
But Mint’s dash to second place on the podium would turn out to be somewhat pyrrhic, because even as Economic Times gave off cash like a spigot to the Times Group, Mint never managed to get there even after all these years. Despite having the right support system, a good tech back-end, and simple design, Mint wasn’t cutting it. Besides, many industry insiders believe Mint has never been profitable.
The Ken reached out to Mint to enquire about its profitability to which its representative’s response was that it was Ebitda-positive, without sharing any specific numbers beyond that. Ebitda profitability is usually calculated by excluding expenses that don’t affect a company’s cash flow, like interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.
Last year, its parent HT Media slid to losses, too.
With advertising revenue and yields both trending downwards, HT Media reckons it needs Mint to turn the revenue ship around—with digital subscriptions. It wants to create a unified subscription “stack” across its various digital news properties.
“We have built a subscription stack that has started with Livemint and will be rolled out all across the properties at some point,” says Abhesh Verma, CEO of HT Digital.
At the centre of that stack sits Mint, whose digital version, Livemint, is the first to go behind a subscription paywall.