London — East African broadcasters are more likely to feature in the top 10 of Facebook audiences in Sub-Saharan Africa in their respective countries. Russell Southwood looks at why social media matters for Africa's broadcasters.
This article looks at social media and the profile different broadcasters have on it. Although things are changing with greater use of Instagram, Pinterest and more recently, TikTok, Facebook remains the biggest platform and I've used data on Facebook audiences to illustrate what I'm saying.
East African broadcasters - in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda - have Facebook audience positions in the top ten in their respective countries. From this position, they have significant online audiences. So let's look at the numbers:
Citizen TV 4,247,740
NTV Kenya 3,695, 416
Standard Digital 3,432,160
Lupita Nyong'o 3,226,386
The three top positions go to the top three broadcasters in Kenya. Actor Lupita Nyong'o and comedian Churchill are included for comparison purposes.
Jamii Forums 3,132,304
Diamond Platinumz 2,971,762
ITV Tanzania 2,225,717
East Africa TV 2,097,104
VOA Swahili 1,582,486
Radio One Stereo 1,279,628
Tanzania's broadcasters are slightly less successful but two make the top ten. Interestingly the USA's VOA Swahili has a placing. Online forum Jamii and musician Diamond Platinumz are included for comparison purposes.
Anne Kansiime 1,930,518
NBS Television 1,561,908
NTV Uganda 1,399,377
New Vision 1,358, 588
Daily Monitor 1,271,196
Uganda's top three broadcasters all make the top ten. Comedian and actor Anne Kansiime and newspaper, the Daily Monitor are included for comparison purposes.
So what? What does this prove? Well, it's interesting that in other large African TV markets - with exception of South Africa - broadcasters barely make a dent on the Facebook audiences Top 10.
Super Sport Football 7,831,279
Nelson Mandela 7,747,696
Super Sport 5,044,324
DStv's sports and football assets ensure it a double placing in the top 10 and Naspers' News24.com makes the cut. Nelson Mandela and new mobile news service Skrollr are included for comparison purposes.
But in Nigeria, the top ten is largely composed of musicians and comedians. YouTube comedy star Mark Angel (7,044,767) and AY (4,375,783) outshine Nigeria's larger broadcasting stations along with musicians Mayor Boss (7,434,585) P-Squared (5,146,189). So for example, broadcasters simply do not feature in the Facebook top ten audiences for Angola, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
So why does this Facebook placing matter to African broadcasters? There are a number of reasons and they are all important:
Social media connects you to the demographic (18-35) for whom television is not always central to their lives. Your content - in whatever form suits the social media platform best - needs to be in front of them on social media. Their views and preferences (engagement) needs to help influence audiences to watch your content.
Social media is a marketing and engagement tool across a much wider age range and its analytics can give you both early programme reactions and key audiences data.
Social media hits the widest extent of your audiences: you have an in-country audience and a diaspora audience. A significant proportion (20-40%?, varies widely by country and is sometimes much more) of the Facebook audience is in the diaspora. In these ad-strapped times, both Facebook (in-stream ads) and YouTube are ways to start developing digital incomes. These are relatively cheap ways of engaging your international audience compared to buying a channel on say Sky TV in London.