Recently, I had an interesting back and forth with a friend who is media owner, debating the merits of the different revenue models available to us, including subscriptions, paywalls and the like. In my mind, the main challenge with all of this is that the data and information we have on these is primarily from the US, which is a very different market. I still contend that an American media consumer is more included to pay for content that an African consumer, regardless of the country, including South Africa.
This is partly due to priority and means. I reckon, on the list of things many of us need to handle on a daily basis, paying for content isn’t that high, especially considering there is much that we can access for free. I have, on occasion, paid to listen to a podcast, namely the Midnight Miracle Podcast with Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli, but when I was done with the season, there was nothing else compelling enough on the podcast network for me to keep paying. Plus, there are other bills to be paid.
I wrote about this last year: Making money off newsletters and other content
When I look at the teenagers around me, including in my own home, the majority of their media consumption comes from platforms like YouTube, even though I subscribe to streaming platforms like Netflix.
And, even with those, it is becoming expensive and tedious to navigate, particularly because no one space carries all the programmes you might be interested in. As a result, I find myself subscribing and unsubscribing regularly. To be on Netflix (R199), Amazon Prime Video (R79), Disney+ (R119) and BritBox (R99.99), which all have programmes that I would love to watch, I would spend just under R500. I don’t pay for Showmax because I have a DSTV Premium subscription, purely for the sport, but spend little time on Showmax.
This is without considering the different music streaming and podcasting platforms.
As a quick side note, in August 2021, it was estimated, by Statista Research Department, that Netflix would reach 2.6 million subscriptions across the whole African continent by the end of 2021 and that would double to 5.8 million in 2026. Meanwhile they lost close a million subscribers in the US in the second quarter of this year.
Recently, I listened to a podcast episode on Brian Morrissey’s The Rebooting Show where the conversation was on a possible shift to rebundling of media after we have spent the last decade unbundling everything.
These are the things I think about as a media practitioner of sorts, as someone who is interested in how we tell stories and the vehicles we use to tell those stories and as someone who makes a living off editorial/content, in Africa. I have a podcast. A newsletter. This website. Yet, it is the work I do outside of the media space, the corporate writing and the editorial consulting for business that I do that enable me to maintain these.
The conclusion to my discussion with my media owner friend. There is none. Try everything. Hope for the best.