The media has been changing significantly over the last decade. From a media landscape where populations consumed their news and entertainment in newspapers and on radio and television, we now have very different consuming habits. The internet and mobile devices have enabled us to get on demand news and entertainment wherever we are, and whenever we want. In Europe and America, print media is struggling against the strength of mobile internet, and social media habits have meant that people want to access their news in short easy to manage parts, often with less substance. (They are used to flicking through information very quickly on Facebook and Twitter)
On demand access to information has created new opportunities for producers of news, information and entertainment. Radio found a solution to this problem by offering podcast material, which can be downloaded, or live streamed at any time, on the go. People can access any kind of information or any topic, and follow their favourite presenters. With a world of podcasts being produced, there is no end to content. TV has not quite been able to replicate this system, but there are some country specific on demand platforms available, but with the BBC for example, it is not easy to access that content oversees.
Across much of Africa, due to many still having limited access to mobile internet, the newspapers, radio and TV stations still have prominence, but this is beginning to change. It may be a small percentage, comparably, of internet and mobile internet users in Africa, but a small percentage of a large number is still a large number! And therefore, media consumption is also changing. The internet is becoming a large source of information for many, and others are keeping up with international content on Youtube.
Now, in South Africa, a company called iono.fm is offering a podcast service tailor made fo Africa. With 15 million unique users in the 12 months of 2017, they already have a substantial user base, which means that they are able to effectively monetise podcasts by offering advertising. There are over 250,000 podcast episodes and more than 250 content providers, including radio stations, and individuals, and businesses. There are also even livestream options on the platform.
They have made the service accessible to those who may have bandwidth problems in Africa by offering different audio quality. For those with less data, or slower bandwidth, they can download the lower quality versions. This means that they will be able to offer podcasts to people in areas that other services are not able to reach. In fact, they plan on going into Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries in the coming months.
By means of monetising their business, they offer a targeted ad system. Audio ads, placed strategically during podcasts, will often receive more listens than those at the beginning of Youtube videos or placed in the Facebook feed. I personally rarely skip an advert when listening to podcasts. (It is simply too much effort to get my phone of my pocket and do so!) Their are no ad blockers that work can detect ads embedded into podcast audio. It is also possible to do so geographically, and by theme, meaning companies can get closer to their target audience, which could be more effective than the seemly hit and miss audiences on Facebook.
Africa has different needs when consuming media, and their is room in the market to innovate to those needs. Eventually, more and more print media will be publishing online, and TV and Radio will have to innovate to keep the attention of their consumers. Iono.fm have made a start towards making their content more accessible, but there is still room for more innovation to create more access.
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