The Week Kick-off: From South African magazines to Saturday Night Live

Following a week of Bill and Melinda Gates memes, it was Elon Musk’s time to shine in the CelebTech spotlight on Saturday Night, as the SpaceX and Tesla CEO hit SNL. We’ve also got news of niche digital magazine success from South Africa, Twitter buys Scroll, and a whole new way to monitor the media tech headlines. It’s time once again for Monday morning… Live! 

Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker launched

We’ve become increasingly aware this year – especially in putting together these weekly kickoffs – that political and legislative issues surrounding Facebook, Google, Apple et al are now dominating the industry headlines. In many ways this is unsurprising. When Apple updates its operating system, or Facebook suspends a former President, these issues affect us all, not only from a business but also a consumer pov. 

So in the true spirit of a traditional media owner, we have decided to launch a new weekly: FIPP’s Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker will keep you regularly updated with policy, regulatory, and legislative news from around the world, and you can view the latest version here.

Of course that also frees us up in the kickoff to delve deeper into the industry, looking beyond the headlines to bring you the latest innovations and insights from week to week. And on that note what better place to start than with a more traditional format making digital waves through niche publishing… 

Bouncing Back: How niche digital magazines are breathing life back into the South African media industry

Few media sectors have been hit harder by Covid-19 than the one in South Africa – the pandemic causing a range of iconic publications to disappear from newsstands. Amid all the carnage, there’s been some good news online. With the launch of two digital magazines – music platform and seasonal jewellery title JZA, niche publishers in the Republic are playing a leading role in helping the industry get up off the canvas.

You can read the full article from FIPP Journalist Pierre de Villiers here.

May is Africa Month

Staying on the continent momentarily, and the second annual Africa Soft Power Series was launched last week. The event looks at how Africa can better leverage its creative and cultural industries to propel the continent forward, and features leading industry voices from the media, entertainment, and arts worlds. This year the event celebrates ‘Africa Month’ and will see a total of 19 sessions on the industry staged between UNESCO Africa World Heritage Day on May 5th and Africa Day on May 25th

Twitter is acquiring Scroll 

Twitter has announced that it is acquiring Scroll, a platform that functions on a subscription-based model of US $5 per month, which allows users to view participating news sites without ads. Writing on the Company’s blog, Twitter VP of Product Mike Park said:

“Scroll has built a way to read articles without the ads, pop-ups, and other clutter that get in the way, cleaning up the reading experience and giving people what they want: just the content. Meanwhile, publishers who work with Scroll can bring in more revenue than they would from traditional ads on a page. It’s a better Internet for readers and for writers.”

The move is particularly interesting because it is touted even by Twitter itself to represent part of a wider subscription-based masterplan that – as Park writes – sets out to “help build a better Internet for readers and writers on Twitter and beyond”. Following the recent headlines surrounding Apple’s decision to make ad-tracking opt-in, this highlights another seismic shift in the digital industry’s transition from advertising to subscriptions. 

And subscriptions are all the rage

On that very note, you may remember that FIPP recently announced the launch of a new direct-to-consumer summit (D2C) in partnership with Peninsula Strategies, which will take place in June. We are delighted to say that as of today that event is officially open for bookings, and you can find out further details here. In addition to the main event, we have launched a 5-module, 5-week training course with Peninsula Consultant, Robbie Baxter. ‘How to build and better your subscriptions businesses’ will run between now and the summit, beginning this Thursday 13th May, and has already proved extremely popular in terms of sign-ups. The course is FREE to FIPP members and requires just a nominal fee of £195 from non-members, and you can find out further details on that side specifically here

And Finally… 

In the biggest media crossover since The Simpsons Guy, Elon Musk took to the hallowed Saturday Night Live stage at the weekend, to become the first non-entertainer or athlete to host the show since Donald Trump in 2015. His appearance was itself not short of controversy, as the billionaire’s reference to Dogecoin as ‘a hustle’ sent the cryptocurrency’s value tumbling

Overall though, pre (and post) show criticism from some sectors proved to be inconsequential, as Musk’s episode was clocked as being the most viewed of the season behind only Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. In it, he went on the record for the first time to say he had the autism spectrum disorder, Asperger Syndrome, dressed up as Wario, and also brought along his Mother, Maye, and Girlfriend, Grimes. There are different pathways to Carnegie Hall, and building rockets for NASA may well be the most unique to date! 

Main Image: Saturday Night Live

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