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Why Acquisition of Apple Daily is Good News for Taiwan Media

Serial entrepreneur Joseph Phua to show that disruptive business models can work in the media industry too

The Apple Daily is one of the leading media outlets in Taiwan. (Courtesy of cnYES)

The Apple Daily (台灣蘋果日報), a leading media outlet in Taiwan, announced on Wednesday (May 8) that its new owners had completed their takeover and most employees will be transferring over.

Local media have speculated that 17Live Non-Executive Chairman Joseph Phua (潘杰賢) will become the new chairman. But, it’s not just the media industry that is watching developments closely.

Rumors about an impending announcement have already begun popping up in various corners of the web, and people are wondering what this could mean for them.

If the rumors are correct, then there is a high chance that this will be an exciting year. The Singaporean businessman will once again show that he is willing to invest in disruptive media companies.

With the transaction amount estimated at NT$1.5 billion (US$50 6 million), it’s clear how vital diversity and creativity are for the serial entrepreneur and his business partners.

17Live is the leading streaming platform in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. (Courtesy of 17Live)

The Rise of Livestreaming in the Creator Economy

Taiwan is a hotbed for successful YouTube channels and livestreamers. The environment provides an opportunity to be part of something new and create revenues through sponsorships or donations from viewers that subscribe to their channels.

The future of local media is bleak on the other hand. With the limited size of their market shares, powerhouses have been struggling to make ends meet for years, mainly because the Google Ad model isn’t enough anymore, knowing that Facebook, Instagram, LINE, Twitter and TikTok are increasingly taking over what’s left.

Livestreaming has become increasingly popular in Taiwan, and influencers can earn a significant income by attracting viewers to their channels. Media outlets have looked at collaborating with these online stars for new sources of revenue, such as creating original content that’s exclusive only on the partnered channel/website.

Taiwan saw a nearly 300 percent increase in signed streamers over 2019, according to 17Live. This trend is partly driven by the country’s large population of young people, who are early adopters of new technology and trends.

From the first quarter of 2020 to 2021, there was an increase in livestream watch time for both males and females. The number went up 70 percent and 105 percent, respectively, as compared with last year. This growth will continue in the coming years as streaming becomes increasingly popular worldwide, especially among younger generations.

In the future, 17Live could be instrumental in Apple Daily’s success.

Media companies can tap into this vast potential market by providing tools and services that will enable content creators to better connect with readers while creating multiple revenue streams through advertising or other means.

Phua knows how important it is to create excellent journalism and do so within an economy where everyone has a voice — and he’s going out of his way every day, so you hear about Taiwan’s soft power too.

A Component of Taiwan Soft Power

For many people worldwide, Taiwan is a country they know for its democratic freedoms and economic success. The main components of this soft power are our robust press freedom and creative industries, making us stand out from other countries with similar economies.

Phua is well-aware of this potential.

He has long seen Taiwan as a hub for tech innovation and its business climate conducive to developing creative industries. The entrepreneur values creativity and innovation and understands that the creator economy fits perfectly with Taiwan’s image as a dynamic and forward-looking country.

In a previous interview with Meet Global, the entrepreneur explained that “he had an idea of building a technology-enabled dating platform that caters to the Asian community” while studying for an MBA in the U.S.”

After returning to Singapore, he debuted a location-based mobile dating and networking app, Paktor. The app instantly gained popularity across eight markets in Asia, including Taiwan, where he eventually settled with his family.

The app has helped redefine dating culture in Taiwan and is now one of the most popular apps in the region. Thanks to Taiwan’s welcoming business environment, Paktor has become a leading mobile dating and entertainment player.

Joseph Phua is the non-executive chairman of 17Live. (Courtesy of NOWnews)

A New Business Model for Media Companies

Media companies in Taiwan are facing an era of decline as Google continues its monopoly on global advertising. The industry has been unable or unwilling to create new business models that generate multiple revenue streams beyond just displaying online banners, which the U.S. company now controls at nearly 74%.

The media sector is facing a crisis as revenue continues to decline and subscription numbers stagnate. Advertisers are also pulling back on advertising due to the lack of new subscribers who can afford it or don’t want their money spent with specific platforms where they feel like there’s no longer any need.

The media sector must examine its revenue crisis as it continues to struggle. It also needs to understand that younger generations spend more time on social networks than reading professional news content.

To that end, 17Live offers an opportunity for reporters to become livestreamers who can not only watch but also comment on news content live from wherever they are in real-time using their 5G phones.

The acquisition of Apple Daily can further address this problem by providing another source of revenue for the company — donations and paid per story content. Such developments will help increase the visibility of one of Taiwan’s most innovative media outlets.

— By Dimitri Bruyas

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic — please share them in the comments below!

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