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Media In South Africa: 2023 And Beyond

Katherine McInnes

May 31, 2024

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, South African businesses need to reach the right audience on the right platform with just the right amount of creativity and clever advertising at exactly the right time to achieve marketing success.

Sound like an impossible feat? It’s not, really. 

To ensure great marketing results, you need to understand the current media landscape in South Africa. The digital world is constantly evolving, which in turn influences consumer trends, and your marketing practices need to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 

Using reputable data, insights and marketing trends, Meltwater brings you the most up to date research on the current media landscape in South Africa to help keep your business in the loop.

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The biggest South African media companies in 2023

When we look at some of the biggest South African media companies, and their growth in annual revenue, we get a great overview of social media trends in Africa. The top three SA companies according to Owler’s competitive data are the following (in order):

1. Multichoice

Multichoice, South Africa’s largest media business, has over 7000 employees and a most recent annual revenue of $3.8B.

While YouTube, Netflix and other subscription-based streaming services are gaining popularity, DStv is still South Africa’s most popular service.

In fact, this particular tv company has over 9-million subscribers, while Netflix is sitting on approximately 3-million.

2. Media24

Media 24 (part of Naspers) is South Africa’s leading media company specialising in newspapers, magazines, ecommerce, book publishing and more.

The company owns more than 50 of South Africa’s most-loved newspapers, magazines and news sites (including News24).

3. Primedia

Primedia is a media company with a large portfolio of broadcasting assets including radio stations like 702 and 94.7.

The other biggest media content delivery companies in South Africa include Showmax, OneCentre, SABC, Primedia Broadcasting and Kagiso Media.

Did you know? With the Meltwater Media Intelligence Suite, you can also monitor TV & radio broadcasts.

How South Africans Consume Media in 2023

At the start of 2023, 43.48 million internet users, 25.8 million social media users, and 112.7 million cell phone connections were recorded in South Africa. With a population size of almost 60 million, these stats suggest that almost all South Africans have access to a cell phone, and almost everyone is an internet-user.

According to Statista, South Africa’s largest segment is still Traditional Media with a market volume of US$4.64bn in 2023.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic saw an increase in the demand for digital media and the need for digitalisation on a global level. South Africa is a follower of global trends and the steady increase in internet users, cell phone connections and new ways of consuming media will mean that traditional media channels will start to stagnate and there will be a market shift towards digital media in the future.

Tip: You find more digital media statistics in the Africa State of Social and The 2023 Global Digital Report. You can also take a look at dedicated South African social media statistics.

When comparing media consumption in South Africa to Australia's media landscape, it’s clear that Aussies are spending more time on Netflix and other personalised, subscription-based media spaces (globally, this is the trend) while SA is a little behind.

TV is still dominating our local media space, with digital news and radio following close behind. However, continuous growth for video-on-demand platforms and streaming services is expected, with Showmax and Netflix being key players in the market.

Radio is still a big player in the South African media industry, however, there has been a shift towards audio providers such as Spotify that offer music, podcasts & radio content as an all-in-one package. These one-stop-shop providers will become increasingly popular as audio consumption and audio content continues to increase

Facebook is still an extremely popular media platform in South Africa, with 22.15 million users recorded at the start of 2023.

Twitter, TikTok and Instagram are gaining popularity too, making the social space one to watch out for.

With news and entertainment right at everyone’s fingertips, the role of media in South Africa is changing into a fast-paced, highly competitive information-provider and the migration towards online publications is a prominent trend in the current South African media landscape. This has some pros for companies such as a variety of platforms as well as the ability to personalise content.

This in turn creates options for highly-targeted advertising. However, it also comes with challenges.

Illustration of social media icons coming out of a smartphone in our blog about media in South Africa

Current challenges facing the South African media landscape

An increase in the user-dominated media space has led to word-of-mouth advertising and user-generated review systems. This opens businesses up to fake news, untrustworthy information, and unfair reviews. Misinformation can damage an individual or company's reputation tremendously. Fake news in mainstream media has also led to the waning of consumer trust. This poses a challenge to media outlets as once consumers have lost trust in a publication, they will migrate towards alternative, more personalised sources and this relationship is hard to repair.

Reading Tips: A 101 in Online Reputation Repair Management, Business Reputation Management: Maintain a Good Reputation, Reputation PR: Definition, Strategies & Examples, The Best Online Reputation Management Services & Software

As South Africans start using platforms such as Netflix, Spotify and other user-dominated media spaces, funding for radio and television will begin to decline. This could negatively impact the media industry if organisations do not adapt to the new digital world. 

How to market effectively in the current South African media landscape

There’s a lot of information to digest here, but the most important takeaway is that your business can benefit hugely from this evolution into digital, social, and ever-available information. But it’s not an easy task to tackle single handedly.

With a great PR officer, or public relations team, you can create a long-term vision for your business and reach goals you never thought possible. This is because marketing in 2023 doesn't just happen organically, it's a process filled with calculated decisions and a unique marketing strategy.

Meltwater Media Database Screenshot

Using a press release distribution service, media database and relationship management, as well as other important media tools like the Meltwater Media Relations Suite, your business can take its marketing to the next level.

Keeping up to date with trends is often the hard part as the landscape is continually in motion. With PR assistance from Meltwater, you’ll never miss a beat as we offer a media monitoring service that spans all media platforms.

Simply fill in the form below to get a free demo.