People don’t consume news the way they used to. Up until the turn of the century, printed newspapers and magazines were a major source of how people stayed informed. Yet from the mid-2000s onwards, the print media was hit by a double-whammy: the advent of private television news channels and the rise of the internet. The story from here on out is a global phenomenon: print media is dying.
That was the story up until a decade ago. In Pakistan as well, the turn of the century saw an influx of private television news channels. Currently Pakistan has around 30 private television news channels. The reality is that very few of them are profitable or a good business idea. Over the years, just like the newspaper industry was kicked to the curb by broadcast television, digital media hosted over the internet is quickly making cable television obsolete as well.
The vast majority of how people consume their news is through the internet and social media. As such, the nature of news has changed. Those hoping to stake a claim in the digital media landscape have to better understand the consumer, fit their patterns, and figure out how to appeal to a generation that consumes, recycles, and forgets information faster than any generation before them simply because of the constant access they have.
Aesthetically pleasing design, clean and understandable videos, smooth animations, friendly and relatable faces and catchy brand names, the digital news media in Pakistan has tried to make waves and in many ways has succeeded in changing what are considered traditional sources of news. And there is no shortage of hopefuls in the market. The launch of a new digital media platform that promises to “cut through the noise”, “make the news understandable” or become the pioneers of “data-driven and neutral reporting” is a regular occurrence. What is also a regular occurrence are these platforms shutting down. Names like Mangobaaz and Parhlo have gone from prominence to running skeleton operations because of a lack of funds. The question is, can digital news media companies also make money or is influence the only currency they are dealing with?
This race to monetize news media content is the million dollar question that plagues both the new and old players of Pakistan’s news media industry. As a more tech-savvy Generation-Z make their weight known as consumers of news, what will the future look like? Profit looks at some of the digital news media outlets operating in Pakistan to try and figure out their financial feasibility and business model.