Daily Maverick Gains 1,000 Paid Subscribers Following Blackout Protest

Daily Maverick, the second most popular South African online news website, gained 1,000 paid subscribers following a website blackout on April 16. The publication staged the blackout to protest the state of media funding in the country.

According to data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) of South Africa, the Daily Maverick receives 317,000 and 348,000 daily users and page views respectively as well as 30,000 paid subscribers. Despite the traffic, the publication said it is struggling to stay afloat as a result of dwindling revenues.

The blackout lasted for 24 hours during which users could only access the website’s subscriptions page. Dwindling revenues in the South African media landscape have seen publishers resorting to cost-cutting and revenue-boosting measures including layoffs and pay-walling to sustain newsrooms.

In the ongoing competition inquiry between Google and South African online publishers News24, which is the country’s leading news platform, said it was loss-making despite receiving 680,000 and 5.6 million users and pageviews respectively and having 100,000 paid subscribers. 

According to CEO Ishmet Davidson, Google was taking advertising revenue out of South Africa leaving newsrooms stretched for resources. “Despite the cost interventions, 100,000 paid subscribers and 20 million monthly users, News24 is unprofitable,” Davidson said.

Google refutes the claims by South African publishers, stating that it is directing traffic to them for little benefit. The tech giant stated that news queries accounted for less than 2% of search queries in South Africa, translating to only about R35m in revenue in 2022. “Google sent 600 million free referral clicks to South African publishers from Google Search and Google News [which they could] monetise on their websites through advertising or subscriptions,” said Marianne Erasmus, Google News Partner lead for sub-Saharan Africa.

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