CliffCentral’s Gareth Cliff recently stated that his online venture was making money, following its launch in May 2014.
After the listenership debacle of 2oceasvibe and Ballz Radio, many have questioned the viability of online radio in South Africa – including how many people actually listen to it.
MyBroadband spoke to CliffCentral about its performance over the past year and what plans it has for the future, in a market where it has the ability to set trends.
“Being in a pioneering space, we assess things as we go along and value our core audience who give us constant feedback,” said CliffCentral.
“CliffCentral.com is targeting the engaged early adaptors – it’s a niche audience leading the way to become mainstream in the future.”
The company said as its third birthday approaches, it is on track to reach certain milestones.
In 2015, 2.8 million podcasts were downloaded from CliffCentral – a number which went up to 2.93 million in 2016.
“Although the number is consistent, we reduced our podcast production by 25% since August last year as we streamlined shows.”
Gareth Cliff Show Podcasts
Of the podcasts downloaded in 2015, 1.2 million of those were Cliff’s show. In 2016, Cliff’s show was downloaded 2.07 million times.
“While Gareth’s show is still responsible for a lot of the live listening and downloads, the platform is growing steadily across the board.”
The shows which have grown the most include:
- Daily Maverick Show
- Renegade Report
- Burning Platform with Justice Malala
- Frankly Speaking
- Leadership Platform
- Future CEOs
CliffCentral said it changed streaming providers in 2015, which impacted its ability to provide statistics.
In 2016, however, the company received 1.3 million live listener connections – averaging just over 100,000 per month.
CliffCentral said while the live listener numbers are a nice measurement, its focus is on podcasting.
“Advertising is based on branded content creation, influencer and content marketing, podcasts, and social media integration,” said the company.
Apps and social media
Another aspect of the CliffCentral offering is its app and social media integration. It numbers in this regard are as follows:
- WeChat subscribers – 140,800
- App Downloads (launched Sept 2015) – 32,000
- Facebook – 68,000
- Twitter – 66,400
- Instagram – 20,700
- Gareth Cliff Twitter: 1.5 million
- Gareth Cliff Facebook – 590,000
- Gareth Cliff Instagram – 67,000
Opportunities and challenges of online radio in South Africa
As with any new technology, adoption rates can be slow if users are resistant to change.
CliffCentral said changing the behaviour of traditional radio listeners is a challenge, with its podcast offering starting to gain better traction in the market.
“Once podcasts are downloaded, no data is required – people are catching on to this slowly,” said CliffCentral.
“Those who have converted and listen live are pleasantly surprised at how economical it is compared to what they thought. However, data costs – and perception of costs of audio streaming – is also a barrier.”
“We knew we were ahead of our time when we launched CliffCentral.com and always believed that from year three, CliffCentral’s trailblazing will pay off.”
Despite these barriers, the company said they have had an “extremely favourable response” from high-profile individuals wanting to be interviewed on the platform.
“We have also been well received by ad agencies, but it is taking some of them much longer to figure out just how much advertising is changing in this digital world.”
CliffCentral said its founder clients – including Nandos, Sibanye Gold, Autotrader, and Col’Cacchios – have supported the company from the beginning.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story
CliffCentral stated that the numbers listed above do not tell the whole story, though, as its focus is also on “quality and engagement”.
“For example, we were broadcasting 12 hours a day live and creating podcasts from that. In August last year, we reduced that to 9 hours (Gareth’s show is three hours of that).”
“This year we are doing more podcasts-only shows to suit client needs,” said the company.
This includes creating podcasts of client events for their own distribution.
“Right now, we’re doing a pop-up radio station for a big corporate which is for their staff only,” it added.
CliffCentral said as it makes its way forward, it will refine its offering and add new services to suit its listeners’ and clients’ needs.
“As more online audio and video channels emerge, so the landscape will be shaped.”
The plan for 2017
As for 2017, CliffCentral plans more of what its audience likes, along with several new projects.
“We plan to continue to provide great content which people can believe. This is the one platform that the audience can rely on for credible, uncensored, authentic, and relevant conversations.”
The company will also explore more “visual elements” and “some surprises”.