Media after the pandemic

Media after the pandemic

When the first lockdown was announced in March last year, the world stood still. The economy shut down, financial markets collapsed, and we seemed to be on the brink of an unprecedented crisis.

Unfortunately, that turned out to be true for virtually every sector in the physical world, as they were forced into lockdown. But for companies with a strong digital presence, it was a completely different story. Everyone, young and old, went online to communicate, learn, work and shop, and the Internet was the world’s news and entertainment portal. Traffic to our news sites grew explosively and tens of thousands of people bought digital subscriptions to one of our newspapers. The hunger for news was insatiable. At a time when people’s lives are confused, they want reliable information and analysis. Social media was inundated during the Covid-19 crisis with conspiracy theories, "fake news", and disinformation. And again the Internet giants didn’t lift a finger to fight it. It may sound cynical, but for once, they did journalism a favour, albeit through negligence.

Our group has taken tremendous risks in taking over newspapers when belief in the medium was all but lost. We believed that the demand for good journalism would remain, provided we could reinvent the newspaper for the digital age. The transformation from a traditional daily newspaper to a fully-fledged news organisation producing exciting, high-quality journalism on all platforms has been both a fascinating and successful process. We are now reaping the benefits of this approach and are already working hard to do the same with our magazines.

Christian Van Thillo
The pandemic has accelerated growth in our online services, and we believe that trend will continue.

2020 drew massive television audiences, on both large and small screens. While it’s true that classic "live" television viewing is losing traction, our programming is reaching more people than ever before thanks to video platforms like VTM GO and our recently launched Streamz subscription service. For television, too, although the challenge is in the digital transformation, its core still revolves around well-made, home-grown programs. That's why local television companies around the world will continue to make strides in their fight against global players such as Netflix and Disney. And the same goes for radio. We’re competing with the Spotifys of this world, and once again, digitization and excellent local content will be the keys to our success.

Advertising revenue in print, radio, and television declined last year, although we did see a marked recovery in the last quarter. We did well online, but there are still plenty of gains to be had if we do things right. We have built up an enormous digital reach in recent years and are now fully investing in both our own advertising technology and an incredibly ambitious data project. DPG Media is committed to being the premier partner for all advertisers, online and offline. We fully believe that we have the right assets to create sustainable value for our customers.

Six years ago, we decided to develop a new wing of the group: online services. We’ve developed digital platforms to help people looking for a new job, car, insurance policy, energy provider, computer, or telephone make the right choice. We have specialised teams that test and compare countless products and services. Our algorithms bring transparency to the market, enabling us to guide people to the best possible purchase at the best price, tailored to their specific wants and needs. Here, too, we can distinguish ourselves with high-quality information provided by experts that people can trust. There is an enormous need for this online. The pandemic has accelerated growth in our online services, and we believe that trend will continue. We also see great opportunities for developing new initiatives.

Christian Van Thillo (59)

Executive Chairman

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