They call it ‘the last outpost’, but this media scene is deeply entrenched in South Africa and buzzing with life. Durban is the central hub of business in KwaZulu-Natal and offers advertisers a wealth of metro media opportunities.
We have two of the country’s top radio stations in our neck of the woods in the form of East Coast Radio (ECR) and Radio Ukhozi, as well as the community stations Gagasi 99.5 FM and the new Vuma 103 FM. In terms of daily newspapers, our region houses Daily News, The Mercury, The Witness, and Isolezwe, Ilanga (twice a week) and weekly newspapers Sunday Tribune, POST, Independent on Saturday and the weekend Isolezwe and Ilanga editions.
The Witness recently launched a Durban edition, separate from the original Pietermaritzburg/Midlands edition.
Durban has 36 suburban newspapers delivering 1.26 million copies to our residents every week. This is in addition to the smaller regional papers – some 43 weekly products that distribute 905 000 copies throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
Out of home media also has a big presence in KZN and while we do not yet have the plethora of billboards that Gauteng has, we do have good coverage at major convergence areas. Most notably, street pole ads have been reinstated in Durban after an absence of seven years.
In keeping with the broadcast language of South Africa’s biggest radio station, Ukhozi FM, SABC1 broadcasts mainly in Zulu which is the language most spoken in the province.
While KZN is the second most populous province there are a number of aspects that set it apart from the rest of the country.
As seen in the chart below, the lowest personal income earners live in KZN – which also pulls the national average down as a result of the large population resident in KZN.
With an average age of 37, this population is younger than Gauteng (39), Western Cape (39) and Free State (38) and employment (or rather the lack of) plays a major factor in the province.
Job opportunities in other provinces are among the factors that may influence the KZN population shrinkage in the 35-44 brackets.
In terms of education and job opportunities, we certainly have the correct number of students attending high school, but they seem to fall off the grid without completing matric. In addition, these youngsters aren’t taken up into artisanships. This begs the question: Could education be a major business opportunity in KZN?
But what has happened to media reach during the past three periods (All Media and Products Survey Main Branded AB 2010, 2011, 2012)? Radio Ukhozi has grown its yesterday listenership by 25% from 4.036 million in 2010 to 5.029 million in 2012, and at a cost of under R500 per 1 000. The loss of its listeners to other stations has been predicted for many years, but the resilience and (obviously) good content for its target market has kept listeners tuned in.
By comparison, ECR has maintained its yesterday listeners, as have Gagasi and Lotus. 5FM has lost its gains from 2011in KZN as have Metro – re-emphasising that ‘local is lekker’!
Newspaper space is undergoing major shifts – and some are losing readers, while Daily News and others are gaining readers. Isolezwe, Ilanga (Mon/Thurs) and the battle for Sunday readers continues between Isolezwe ngeSonto and Ilanga langeSonto with Ilanga holding the lead at 801 000 readers in KZN versus Isolezwe at 589 000 KZN readers (ex Amps 2012 Main Branded).
There is a high level of regular readers for the English dailies – 87% of Daily News readers are regular readers, which is also evident by their high subscription levels (62% according to Media Manager).
This also applies to the Isolezwe readers – 96% are regular readers, but not to Ilanga as they lose 44% of their average issue readers. Isolezwe also has the higher reach in the Durban area, compared to Ilanga.
Online and social media is a growing sector because of the ability to target specific audiences geographically and therefore the messaging is directed to local markets – great for upweighting local impacts.
The biggest area of use is (no surprises) social networking, but shopping and travel are growing.
Looking at the percentage of site audience in Durban and Pietermaritzburg:
The highest audience is on ECR site and eight of the top 15 sites visited are media companies.
In terms of Twitter followers for two of Durban radio stations’ popular DJs, ECR’s Darren Maule has 6 568 and growing, but Ukhozi FM’s Linda Sibiya boasts 30 235, which also continues to grow.
As this dip into the KZN media scene shows, we have a vibrant and fluid media landscape, complete with a lot of change and opportunity for advertisers to gain valuable exposure for their products and services to best effect.
Charles Hale is the managing director of The MediaShop Durban.
IMAGE: Durban City Hall / Wikimedia Creative Commons
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