News24, South Africa's largest news publication with an average of 1.3 million daily users, has signed up over 20 000 subscribers since the launch of a subscription service for quality journalism in August.
"I am immensely proud of the News24 team who have confirmed our view that our readers will pay for top class, trustworthy journalism," said Media24 CEO Ishmet Davidson, as the company announced its half-year results on Monday.
News24's Afrikaans sister publication Netwerk24 declared 71 500 digital subscribers, making it the largest subscription service in the country.
News24 launched a subscription service in early August, after being a free breaking news service for more than 21 years. Although breaking news remains free, a new layer of quality investigative journalism, thought-provoking analysis, and top opinion were introduced at a cost of R75 per month.
In addition, News24 subscribers have access to all the journalism from these Media24 titles: City Press and The Witness newspapers, and YOU, True Love, Fairlady, Home, Finweek, and Go! magazines.
Being a News24 subscriber also gives you the ability to listen to articles or to share subscription articles with non-subscriber friends or family.
Adriaan Basson, News24's editor-in-chief, said he and his team were thrilled with the "overwhelming" response to the launch of News24 for subscribers.
"Not in our wildest dreams did we think we would get to 20 000 subscribers in less than two months. We have been blown away by the support of the News24 fans who have voted with their rands in favour of quality, probing journalism," said Basson.
Some of the top subscription stories so far have been News24's coverage of the ANC's efforts to deal with corruption in the party, the unfolding scandals around ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and Deputy President David Mabuza, and News24's expose of the KwaSizabantu cult in KwaZulu-Natal.
"The message from our subscribers is clear: hold all power to account. Whether it is the governing party, a government department, a province, or a religious organisation. And that is exactly what we will continue to do."
In the wake of News24's subscription success, senior investigative journalists Sipho Masondo and Jeff Wicks were appointed to join Kyle Cowan and Azarrah Karrim in News24's investigations unit, headed by seasoned journalist and author Pieter du Toit. Recently, legal specialist writer Karyn Maughan joined News24 in a permanent role.
Under the editorship of Lindokuhle Nkosi, Arts24, has published thought-provoking arts journalism that has made waves, and the addition of Sibusiso Mjikeliso as deputy editor of Sport24 has given the publication the edge in covering the fallout in Cricket SA.
TinaShe Makwande, News24's general manager for subscriptions and affiliate revenue, said the task of building a subscription product in South Africa's favourite and most trusted news website required years of detailed planning.
"In line with keeping our readers at the centre of our product design, we prioritised a friction-free experience and integrated tech partners that share our approach to news subscriptions," said Makwande. News24 introduced artificial intelligence software to assist with the moderation of comments by subscribers and a compelling 'listen to article' feature, where artist Bongolethu Mbutuma reads every story for you.
"The result, which has been encouraging, echoes the continued support for our trusted brand of journalism from millions of South Africans without whom this would not have been possible. We are proud to be able to maintain a strong advertising business model supported by this new and exciting subscription revenue stream," said Makwande.
To find out more about News24 for subscribers, read here.