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Some things I didn't know about the media industry

Sometimes you're amazed at how little you know. I'm not talking about the 702 'Brain of Johannesburg' competition, where the questions are aimed at anyone with a double digit IQ. I'm talking about the media industry.
I've worked in this business since the 1970s, but I find I still know so little about the hard facts and figures. Why? Well, it's a living industry, and things change daily. Media close their doors and others open; competition increases and decreases. And it all depends on you and me - the consumer and what drives our lifestyle and media choices.

As a result, every year the strategists at The MediaShop compile a massive media landscape of South Africa from scratch. Really, it is weeks of work. And every year I look through it and think: "Hell, I didn't know that!" Well this year, courtesy of The MediaShop, here are just a few things I didn't know about the South African media industry.

Overall spend scenario

Let's look at the overall spend scenario. It wasn't that long ago that print commanded well over 40% of all spend and was the biggest medium in the country. Today? Only 29%. And TV sits at an ever-growing 47%. And despite all the hype, huff and puff, the internet is clearly a communications platform, allowing so much more than just advertising. And it shows.

While it continues to grow ad-share, still only R3 in every R100 spent by clients translates into advertising on the web. But if one was talking about total digital investment, I'm pretty sure the figures would tell a dramatically different picture. And the pre-occupation of Sandton planners using media they consume is clearly evident. For example, Radio 702 still attracts R619 per individual listener, while Metro manages only R73 per listener and Ukhozi R35.

But such anomalies are not restricted to radio by any means. Business Day attracts R7.93 per reader, compared to Daily Sun at 30 cents. Is it bias? Ignorance? Over- or under-pricing? Lack of options? The sales teams? You be the judge - it's probably a bit of everything. The only thing I know in my waters is that it's wrong.

Most popular channels

Now we all know that with the explosion of compact decoders sales, there are almost as many LSM 4-7 viewers of DStv channels as there are LSM 8-10 viewers. And it would be no surprise therefore that the best-watched channels by LSM 4-7 on DStv are, ironically, SABC 1, SABC 2, and SABC 3 - in that order. And by miles! And LSM 8-10? It's different right? Wrong - by miles the most popular channels here are SABC 2,, SABC 3 and SABC 1.

And what would the ten biggest rating programmes be on DStv? Inevitably, they will always be sports events, local soccer and games involving South Africa and local rugby sides. The biggest entertainment channel? Surely M-Net? Wrong again. KykNET by far.

Newspaper scene

The newspaper scene is really complex. With little thought, one would say that in the past 15 years the number of newspapers being distributed would have been static or decreasing. Hell, that's wrong! They actually have increased, and by a really massive 74%. How? Well, the free sheets, the darlings of South African retailing, can take 90% of the credit.

Not only have the number of free newspapers distributed increased by 2.5 times - from 2.1 million to 5.4 million weekly - but the number of titles has also boomed as new areas are included. Plus, in 15 years the number of titles has grown from 83 to 188 currently. Dailies? We knock out the Daily Sun, and the decrease would have been a massive 25%. With it? Up three percent.

The internet

Briefly, let's look at the internet. Of course, we visit Google and Facebook most. But peculiar to South Africans, right up there in popularity in fifth spot is; in seventh place is Gumtree; while FNB holds the tenth position. All very interesting, don't you think?

Facebook? Globally, Coke is miles ahead of its nearest competitor, in terms of the number of its fans. A massive 58.1 million fans compared to next in line, Disney, at 41.7 million. But South Africa is a different kettle of fish. FNB has the most fans - 290,000. But I would have given 100-1 odds that no-one (except the propeller heads) would have guessed what has the second most number of fans. It's, which offers easy recipes and meal planners. Seriously! And, you guessed it, I've never heard of it until now.

I've barely scratched the surface. There's tons more. If you're an agency, a client or a media owner, The MediaShop would be happy to show you more of the Landscape 2013. Give me or Chris Botha a shout and we'll schedule it for you, no strings attached.
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About Harry Herber

Harry Herber has a passion for delivering on promises and an attitude that demands that The MediaShop 'goes the extra mile'. With a BA in Classics and Anthropology behind him, Harry plunged into the media industry in 1975. Under Harry's leadership, The MediaShop has earned numerous client awards. He believes in added value for clients. Contact details: email: .
Chantyl Tambourlas
Brilliant read, would love have a look at the whole landscape, thanks so much the effort put in here!
Posted on 16 Apr 2013 16:59
Ann Druce
Excellent snippets, thanks Harry.
Posted on 22 Apr 2013 16:29