Is the Jamaican Media making the most of the Net?

Most broadcast and print media houses in Jamaica are online, though the purpose and online strategy of some remains largely unclear. Let me get straight to the point.

Jamaica Observer in my humble opinion got rid of their most effective website yet, it was researched developed by Net Vision Interactive. And they did just that for NVI created a site that was balanced in terms of function, design and user experience. They made the site truly interactive and therefore pretty sticky. It was a pleasure to log on to read the news. The solution online now while offering the option of commenting on stories online has lost the dynamic interactivity it once had. The user experience and balance in function and design has fallen.

The Gleaner has been online for a number of years, yet still its web publishing spin off is not yet profitable. The Gleaner has been syndicating its news content to American and European syndication companies for At least 3 years, but has been trying to transfer online it’s inimitable ability to attract print advertising by pushing It’s online advertising options. With the busiest chatroom in media, with Radio Jamaica as number 2 and HomeView now out of the race, is the stickiest Jamaican media site online at this time. They’ve had the distinction by sheer longevity in the marketplace of being synonymous with news and they’ve been parlaying that online. The site itself however is does not yet provide a great user experience, just me having issues with the look and feel aspect of things.

In radio, there is, hot 102 fm and the radiojamaica group online at IRIE FM is probably going to be the most profitable online media house in the Caribbean when it launches it’s subscription model for listening to IRIE FM online. Why? Live Radio on the Net has proven to work and well and the era of free premium content is over. So they’ll be charging listeners online a monthly fee to listen to IRIE FM online. Now while IRIE will have extra costs of bandwidth, royalties to handle, the business model that underlies their online strategy for their unique content of 24/7 reggae music live and online to a global market of reggae music lovers old and newly Shaggy-led and converted, is sound.

It is a strategy that HOT 102 FM I’m sure is contemplating too. They have distinguished themselves as number one in Talk Radio I believe, and the short stint under the umbrella, should have proved instructive to them. It should have made clear that they too have a unique radio product that is marketable online to primarily a market of migrant Jamaicans who want to keep in the know on what’s current and what’s on people’s minds.

Then there is whose brand is also synonymous with news from Jamaica. Having just completed a total site revamp to get to a higher level of functionality and design. It has succeeded to a certain degree. RJR offers Live webcast of their newscasts, leading FAME shows with a facility for serving up breaking news bites along with a pretty busy chatroom. Again capitalising on it’s ability to get advertising with little Effort, they too seem to be pushing online advertising as a revenue options.

In TV there is which has a snazzy looking site that was offering their site visitors the station’s major newscast of the day live but these days it’s mostly archived for viewing on demand, but not consistently so. I understand that they are currently in negotiations with a local service provider to get their site maintenance back on track with also a subscription model in place.

There is also online offering archives of its major newscasts and it’s premium entertainment show The Entertainment Report, along with a chatroom at a well-balanced, easy to use and appealing site.

Jamaican media companies already online, about to go online, still defining themselves online, may ask themselves a few questions. Why are we going online? What will be our online strategy – Online branding, market expansion, new revenue stream etc? What are the tools and options available to us ? How will the website and the operations that support it paying for itself ? Who are our viewers online? Do we have a clear understanding of our online user demographic -what and how do they want to see, hear interact with and leave behind ?

Just one revenue stream consideration that all may ponder, subscription and selective syndication is in, Online advertising on it’s own will never pay the bills. Interesting days ahead I believe.