Week in Review: Walking around with an ‘Endangered Species’ badge

  • Media outlets globally getting crushed by the colossus duo of Facebook and Google
  • Media Prima doing good job of making transition to digital with mix of free, paid model

I LIKE to joke that all journalists should walk around with Endangered Species badge. For, while we are the ones bringing society information and analysis about the Digital Economy we are entering, it is we who are in the line of fire facing the disruption caused by the transition to the Digital Economy.

Our business model has been crushed by the move of eyeballs to digital where 70% of ad revenue goes to the colossal duo of Facebook and Google, who between them, have a grand total of ZERO journalists. That is both a beautiful and chilling reality of the times we live in.

It’s a no brainer that media have to go digital themselves, as all of us have. But interestingly, almost all have also chosen to chase eyeballs and play the numbers game to grab any revenue they can get. A tiny number have gone the paid model way, relying on readers to decide if the media has any value to them at all, with the decision to pay for content the ultimate judge of value.

In Malaysia we have the Southeast Asian pioneer of this model in MalaysiaKini. Credit to them and their readers for their continued survival in this tough space where its competitors offer the same type of content for free. And while MalaysiaKini has been asking me to consider going the paid model way, I am frankly afraid to test those waters – yet !

Meanwhile sticking with a combination of free and paid content seems to be working for Media Prima Bhd. The traditional media powerhouse now calls itself an “integrated media company” with the ambition to further transform to a leading digital-first content and commerce company.

While it suffered a loss for 2017, it various digital initiatives saw its total digital and commerce revenue increase 89% over 2016. With total revenue dropping from US$329 million (RM1.29 billion) in 2016 to US$303 million (RM1.19 billion) in 2017, Media Prima is facing the same challenge every other listed media company in the world is – can online revenue increase at a faster pace than the loss of its offline revenue?

Judging by the track record of other media globally, this seems to be a losing battle but clearly Media Prima are all geared for battle to stay relevant to consumers.

One data point that struck me was on its over-the-top (OTT) video service, tonton which specializes in local language, Bahasa Malaysia content. Media Prima has invested a lot in the platform and shown patience and persistence in growing the product it launched in 2010 and its 2017 numbers were impressive. Revenue increased by 38% on the back of higher user subscription to the service as compared to a year ago. The OTT service – which has over 7.6 million registered users to date, continues to grow by 15,000 users weekly and recorded a significant increase of 84% in hours watched.

This is a space I will be watching with great interest to see if the video content from this once traditional print and TV dominated media will become its savior in a digital world.

With that, I hope you had a restful weekend and here’s wishing you a productive week ahead.

Editor’s Picks:

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Tibco partners Institute of Technology Bandung to build data talent pool in Indonesia

Asean SMEs to invest more in technology to boost business performance

How startups can benefit from VCs



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