Tyger Media, the parent company of social media-based short news provider Cablgram and Nutshell Today, announced on Thursday that it has raised $150,000 in seed funding from undisclosed local investors, as first reported by Markedium. The company said it plans to use the investment to expand existing verticals, experiment with more content formats, and introduce two new projects: a Bangla vertical and a creative agency called Robyn.
Tyger Media operates with the thesis that the news consumption habit and taste of modern readers has changed. The existing media formats are not entirely suited for the tech-savvy and social media-savvy young generation. People are increasingly busy, and attention spans are getting shorter. People are increasingly relying on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to access and consume content and news. To serve this audience, you need bite-size content that caters to the taste, priorities, and content consumption habits of this generation.
Tyger Media currently runs two social media-based short-format news services: Nutshell Today and Cablgram. Nutshell Today and Cablgram originally started as separate initiatives around August 2020. Both initiatives merged in September 2021, forming the parent company Tyger Media. The company claims both outlets currently serve around 10 million monthly viewers on their social media platforms.
This is a fascinating development for the digital media landscape in Bangladesh. There has been a sudden proliferation of new media initiatives of late. A young group of players are experimenting with a number of mediums and formats on the back of changing technology and increasing digital content consumption habits.
While Cablegram and Nutshell were some of the early players in the space, today there are a number of players similar to Tyger that are experimenting with bite-size news and information services targeting tech-savvy and social media-savvy young audiences.
Some of these outlets, while originally starting by using reportings of other mainstream outlets as sources for social media posts, have expanded to original reporting as well.
Similarly, mainstream news outlets such as TBS and the Daily Star have also joined the bandwagon, producing bite-size content from their own social media pages and channels.
There has also been a gradual rise in the number of players using platforms like YouTube. There has also been a rise in celebrity/influencer-driven media outlets. Some of these outlets deal with news, while others deal with a broad swath of content from personal development to politics to entertainment.
Technology has unbundled news media in a big way in recent years, allowing the rise of a new crop of media initiatives. In the early days of digital media, we have seen companies like Mashable, BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Vice in the US, BDnews24.com, and several others in Bangladesh, create a new trend in the market.
In recent years, we have seen a new batch of companies approaching the news from a bite-size and social media-friendly approach. There are also independent creators doing media work. Many of these companies started by unbundling the media.
In the past, we have seen one single newspaper covering everything from sports to politics to entertainment. The new crop of media startups, powered by the internet, started with unbundling the model. We have seen companies focusing exclusively on fashion, politics, sports, tech, and a myriad of other verticals. Many successful digital media companies later have also moved to re-bundle in the pursuit of scale and building everything publications.
Bite-size and youth-focused media is not a new thing. This experiment in the digital media space is an ongoing phenomenon. There has been, and there is, a long list of bite-size media success and failure stories across markets.
The social media-based and distributed format makes particular sense in Bangladesh, given that Bangladeshi internet users are mostly Facebook and social media users. And a majority of these users consume content that is trendy, attractive, and short in nature.
To that end, media outlets targeting to serve this group of social media-based audiences have a meaningful opportunity.
On top of that, brands are now more willing to invest in social media platforms. A majority of brands consider Facebook and other major social media platforms to be central to their marketing and communication. With a meaningful audience on these social media platforms, building a large enough business is likely until a certain scale.
However, the space is not without its challenges.
One major challenge for these bite-size outlets is the growing competition and a lack of lasting defensibility. The entry barrier is fairly low, the product is easy to copy, and it is hard to build loyalty on social media. Additionally, when you are doing bite-size content, it is hard to offer unique insights or offer something that would allow you strong and lasting differentiation from other similar outlets.
For instance, as I noted above, after various bite-size pages ripped off their content on Facebook, mainstream media companies such as The Daily Star and TBS now have their own bite-size offerings. Building meaningful differentiation is a major challenge for pages like Cablegram and Nutshell Today.
This is part of the reason why many bite-size and short-form focused media companies didn't do well and didn't last very long in several other markets. There are success stories in the vertical, but they are few and far between.
Media has been a challenging business of late. The changing landscape of tech has created a host of new challenges and opportunities for the space. But it is also an interesting business. While there are many challenges for players like Tyger Media who are focused on new formats and new mediums, the opportunities in the space are also significant. I'll be following closely to see what Tyger does next.