Africa’s traditional media losing out to the internet

Posted on September 8, 2015 08:48 am

Africa is one of the region that is facing consumer disruption technology and viewers’ content-consuming habits are changing rapidly thanks to everything from faster mobile Internet speeds to smartphones with bigger and bigger screens. The internet has propelled growth in overall media consumption across the continent and at the same time is fast eroding the consumption of traditional media. The consumption of every traditional medium except outdoor i.e. newspapers, magazines, television, radio and cinema is falling directly because of competition from the internet, and experts expect their decline to continue to 2020.Magazines have suffered the most from competition from the internet, followed by newspapers in Africa according to this report. Between 2011 and 2013 the average time spent reading magazines fell by 22.3%, while time spent reading newspapers fell 29%. Television consumption fell by just 9.0%. Between 2014 and 2017 report predicts newspaper consumption to shrink by an average of 3.3% a year, while magazines and TV shrink at average rates of 8.9% and 7.7 % respectively. These figures only refer to time spent with these media in their traditional forms with printed publications and broadcast programmes watched on television sets. Any time that consumers spend with broadcasters’ and publishers’ online brand extensions is included in the internet total.

Johannesburg, South Africa's commercial hub.The country is the largest media market in Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial hub.The country is the largest media market in Africa.Photo Phil Duncan 

Despite the wealth of digital content out there plus the growing distraction of social media, traditional television is still holding on in Africa despite the falling figures and interest from young generation.In Digital vs Traditional Media Consumption published by GlobalWebIndex, shows that the average person with Internet access is now spending six hours a day online and one third of that time is via a mobile device. The GWI which polls over 200,000 people in 34 markets annually in order to paint an ongoing picture of global online consumer trends, and the latest tranche of its research shows that one in every three online minutes is now devoted to social media, making it by far the most popular single online activity around the globe. Recently, Facebook experienced one billion active users in a single day and at the same time, social messaging service WhatsApp revealed it now has more than 900 million active users.Despite the draw not just of social media, but of digital video content and other forms of pixelated entertainment, consumers in African countries are still finding time to watch television the old-fashioned way with English Premier League football being the top draw.

Around Southern African countries and East African region, consumers are still averaging 2 hours of traditional television a day, and it is still more popular than online TV.Breaking the figures down, African consumers watch the least TV, averaging just under 2 hours a day where most inhabitants clock up almost 2 hours a day in front of the first screen. However, what is clear is that the amount of time spent accessing non-linear or online shows is growing up from 0.23 to 0.46 hours a day in East and West African markets. When all but 17- to 25 year-olds are factored out of the equation, then that figure jumps to over half an hour a day, and when those younger adults live in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria the line has already been crossed. In those countries the youngest adult generation has already started to watch more on- than they do offline. However, regardless of African country or age group, what is clear is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to sit through a TV show without access to a second screen. One third of adults admit to using another device while watching TV with 52% of that number reaching for a smartphone, though laptops are also a popular way of enabling multi-media consumption.

Contador Harrison