Delhi-based podcast hosting, creation and distribution company Hubhopper has raised an undisclosed amount as a strategic investment from media giant Hindustan Times Media, which publishes newspapers like Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint. Prior to this, the company had raised about $1.3 Mn from ITI Growth Opportunities Fund, Unit-E Ventures and other angel investors.
Started off pre-Indian independence 96 years ago, Hindustan Times has been focusing on integrating better technology in order to keep up with the new-age digital businesses. Last year, the enterprise acquired Mosaic Media Ventures that operates two tech news platforms VCCircle and TechCircle to augment its business news platform Mint’s technology and deals-focused editorial content capabilities. In terms of financials, the company reported a revenue of INR 1369 Cr in FY2020, with losses at NR 266 Cr.
Hubhopper plans to use this latest Hindustan Times investment to grow its product and podcast distribution network of 50 partners including Samsung, Paytm, Spotify, Gaana, Paytm, PhonePe and more. A part of the funding will be used to integrate tools and technologies for creators to host, launch, distribute, analyse and monetise their podcasts and audio content.
Hubhopper started off its journey as a social networking platform in 2015, but pivoted to content aggregation and publishing platform in 2017. As of October 2019, the company offered over one million hours of content across 15 languages, 12 Mn devices and 10 demand and supply-side products and platforms.
“Audio is an incredibly special medium. It’s more language, literacy and capital agnostic than its contemporaries and has a special place in the hearts and lives of Indian people. Hubhopper’s endeavour along with HT is to continue to champion this community and democratise podcasting for all. We have only scratched the tip of this iceberg,” Gautam Raj Anand, founder of Hubhopper, said in a press release.
The deal comes at a time when media and entertainment startups, both in India and globally, are garnering global attention. According to Inc42+, the sector received total funding of $877.8 Mn across 85 funding deals in 2020, reporting a spike from previous year’s $561.27 Mn. Some of the biggest funding rounds last year were raised by SimSim, Trell and others.
Podcasting as a subsector also had its time to shine in 2020 as Amazon acquired US-based Wondery to expand its original audio content catalogue. In India too, the podcast industry has witnessed significant growth, with more than 40 startups operating in this space and catering to 200 Mn monthly active users (MAU). The lockdowns induced by Covid-19 further bolstered its growth and the segment saw the listenership rising by 30%, according to a KPMG report.
Some popular content startups operating in this space are Tencent-backed Pratilipi (20 Mn MAU), Fosun RZ-backed Headfone, IVM Podcasts and Suno India, among others. Pratilipi acquired Mumbai-based IVM Podcasts last November.