When BusinessDay Nigeria started metering its contents, the newspaper suffered heavy traffic loss. The company has tried to turn off and on the paywall looking for a balance between revenue and relevance in the digital age.
For all media companies in Nigeria, the only one with a decent chance of making a subscription business work is BusinessDay because it focuses largely on business and financial contents. In other words, readers could see the subscription as an investment, R&D or whatever that is necessary to collect data to drive strategy.
That is different from reading ThisDay, Punch and other local newspapers. Companies are more likely to pay for business contents than political ones.
But there is a problem. BusineddDay does not have ultra-focused and niche contents which would help drive its pay-wall strategy. The financial market in Nigeria is not that dispersed. All newspapers have the same sources and report, to a large extent, the same thing. Once it is on Punch, wait for some minutes, you will read the same content on The Guardian or The Sun.
The same applies in business news as we have few news making companies to start with.
So that brings the question – how can Nigerian media publishing companies survive in the age of Facebook and Google. In reality they can, if government can help them. And if the tech titans will care to assist, also.
This is our suggestion:
- Let all the publishing houses come together. They need to band together to have any impact to make any strategy work
- They have to build a platform with pricing system where all contents they will deliver will pass through
- That platform will have the media companies put prices on what they plan to sell their contents. It could be subscriptions or daily access. Think of hotels.ng but here you are dealing with media contents and not flight tickets or hotel rates.
- When readers visit the site, they search for contents and the prices are displayed for the specific contents of interests. They pay and read. This pricing could be dynamic.
- But since there is a risk that some media firms may opt-out since they may not have great quality to command patronage, the group must push for the ultimate killer strategy.
- Host that platform in Google and Facebook and ask both to collect the money under a revenue sharing formula. With that, no contents from the media houses can be shared without going through the platform. Google and Facebook can make this work, if they receive heat to assist. They are making money without investing in contents.
Yes, if these media companies band together to negotiate with Google and Facebook to sell subscriptions on their behalf, you will see them blossom.