Since moving away from FM radio in May, Gareth Cliff has been driving a new brand of radio that he hopes will break all the rules imposed by traditional broadcasters.
Speaking at Tech4Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Cliff said the value of online radio is that it can tap into niche audiences.
“Initially, we had something closer to traditional radio in mind for our business model, but that morphed into the branding of packaged content,” he said, in a presentation on why he quit mainstream radio to start Cliff Central. He said it’s about reaching audiences that advertisers want.
But Cliff seems more passionate about the content, something that he feels he was not able to do with integrity during his time at 5FM, a national, youth-focused radio station owned by the SABC.
He said demand for content is far higher than it has ever been and if South Africans are not going to develop it themselves, someone else will. “Young people in this country want more from their content; you can’t rely on a good song to keep your audience happy anymore.”
Although live online radio is how CliffCentral produces its content, it’s the podcasts that are produced after the fact where Cliff sees the most value. The accurate tracking that podcasts provide makes it much easier to commercialise, he said.
CliffCentral claims that it reaches about 500 000 listeners a month. “From 1 August to 23 September, we had a million podcasts downloaded and it looks like this is going to become a trend. I am so happy I could s*** bricks,” he told the audience at Tech4Africa.
It would appear CliffCentral’s agreement with MTN has also paid off for the fledgling broadcaster. In May, MTN launched a deal offering clients on a select number of packages unlimited data access via WeChat. Cliff said MTN has sold over 120 000 packages that offer unlimited CliffCentral streaming.
Cliff said the limited number of radio stations available on the FM band will drive the adoption of online radio, especially considering the proliferation of cellphones that can receive audio and video content. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media