Anyone that uses the internet has watched a video online. Websites are popping up in the country showing videos that are entertaining and informing for viewers. It is a new business idea to create a website and make a profit when the videos which are posted on a website goes viral. This new business trend has become a hit in the country.
Websites such as DireTube, SodereTube, and EthioTube are now famous. Viewers are watching music videos, news, soap operas, and TV shows on these sites. The websites allow people to log in any time of the day and watch whichever video they want as many times as they like for the cost of nothing, absolutely free.
The people that own the websites and post the content are changing the videos to lucrative profits. It is a new concept, the age of online marketing that allows savvy tech users to make money off something as simple as posting a video.
DireTube which was launched in 2008 by Biniam Negessu, it is one of the most popular tube websites in Addis Abeba. “We have close to 150,000 visitors a day, and on our Facebook page we have over 2.4 million likes. 60pc of our viewers come to the website by clicking a link on Facebook which brings them to DireTube” he says. The other ways viewers come across the website is through google search, directly typing the address of the website, and referrals from other websites. The website is currently worth three million dollars.
The money the website makes is generated from advertisements that are posted on the site or from advertisements inserted in the videos. There are two types, cost per click and cost per view. Cost per click is when the site gets paid when someone clicks and watches the ad, while click per view is when payment is made just for viewing the ad. Per click, the website can generate anywhere between 0.5 dollars and 20 dollars. Sometimes advertisers bid for a spot on a popular website which can drive the price up explains Biniam Negessu.
Google acts as an agent for both the website and the advertiser. It works to connect the advertiser with a suitable website for its product or service. Google uses soft wares that study the geographical location and demographic of the viewers before placing an ad. When this is done, google takes a commission and then pays the website for the ad.
How much a website earns from these videos varies vastly. It depends on the number of views a video has, a video that has 500,000 views makes more money than a video with 50,000 views.
In an event a video generates one million viewers, the content owners get a big pay out of 100,000 to 300,000 Br according to Biniam Negessu. Which will be deposited in their bank account from Google through wire transfer. But if two videos on the website get one million views simultaneously, there will be a 20pc difference in the payment.
The challenges that these websites face to run smoothly are the problems with technology and efficient internet connection in the country. “Good web hosting is hard to find here and very expensive, there are only a few local companies that offer hosting” says Dawit Ayele, owner of AhaduTube. “We try to purchase services from abroad but we cannot unless we have a credit card because the payment is online”.
AhaduTube has close to one million viewers online, the owner has worked on expanding his market through the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and hopes to see even more viewers coming to his website “if the internet connection was not interrupted and we had good connection, we could have increased the number of our viewers greatly from this number” says Dawit Ayele.
If someone watching a video skips an ad, or the computer has an ad blocker, then the website would not get paid for that view. This makes estimating the amount of views a video has and how much a user makes off of the video very challenging. It also depends where the ad is placed. A video ad at the front of a video will get more views than an ad in a box at the bottom of the page. This determines how many people engage with the ad and the amount of money that can be made.
There are close to 47 million mobile subscribers and 14.7 million data and internet users in a population of 93 million in Ethiopia. The society is still getting used to the idea of using the internet to watch videos. “People are slowly coming into social media, they don’t trust the internet yet, the awareness to use websites like ours is still growing” says Semere Teame, creator of KonjoTube. “We post attractive pictures on our website to attract viewers, we also have news and shows” he added.
Websites like DireTube are now trying to encourage users to post content on the websites. But since the internet connection is not very strong, and the society is new to the idea of taking a personal video and posting it on the internet progress has been slow.
“I usually watch TV dramas, videos, and news on there, it is very nice when I have free time I watch videos but since the internet connection problem, I haven’t watched as many videos” says Sisay Belay a 20-something year old.
With many tubes to choose from some viewers are turned off by some of the contents they find, “I don’t open those websites, sometimes they post fake stories, shocking things that are not true to get attention from people” says Nebil Hussien, an internet user.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) is working on developing and setting regulations for these websites. “As of now, there are no laws or standards that prohibits an individual from posting any kind of content online. We are in the process of conducting studies on this matter in order to set regulations” said the MCIT official. At the moment, the owner of the website or anyone that has access to post videos on the website pages decides what the viewers are going to see.
Most tube websites in the country post videos for entertainment and information purposes. On many of these sites viewers can watch funny videos from abroad, singing and dancing competitions, Ethiopian dramas like yebet sera and music videos, as well as news from local and international media. The content publishers of the website decide which videos they want posted on their site. Content publishers can also choose if they want to ban videos such as those promoting violence, drugs, and sex.
Artists that post their music videos on the website are given ownership of the content and paid. But, this is not the case for all sites, some websites do not give ownership of the content to the artist, thus they are not obligated to pay the artist.
The startup cost of designing a website is from 20,000 Br to 100,000 Br depending on the amount of content. There is a monthly charge for the domain and hosting costing between seven and 11 dollars. Someone that has an IT background and web development experience can create the sites which takes five months to a year to build as Solomon Koste, a web designer explained.
There are currently around 70 “tube” websites in the country that are streaming videos online. The trend is attracting more young entrepreneurs to enter the niche and the number is growing by the day.