The rates of Internet users and mobile penetration have increased remarkably since 2011. The Internet penetration in Egypt reaches up to 38 million; and the mobile broadband subscriptions reaches 31 percent. Internet is accessed through mobile phones by 32 million subscribers. The percentage of families who have access to Internet at home counts for 46.5 percent of the population. Social media users (Facebook & Twitter) count for 30.5 percent of the population.
The average time spent online per week in Egypt has increased from 18 hours in 2013, and 23 hours in 2015, to 26 hours in 2017. Using smartphones to connect to the Internet is rising and computer use is declining. The usage of smartphones increased from 32 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in 2017, and computers went down from 34 percent in 2015 to 20 percent in 2017.
The revolution was named the “Internet Revolution” or the “Digital Revolution” as Egyptians were mobilised through the Internet and the social media platforms to voice out their anger, and since then the dependency on the digital platforms increased. News organisations at that time realised the need for online platforms that offer timely news, which urged a re-structuring for their business models.
Most of the newspapers have a print and a digital version, yet the private media have more presence on the digital platform than the public media because of the developed infrastructure that helps attracting a good number of visitors, and a high level of audiences’ engagement. Public newspaper websites suffer from slow browsing and complicated and almost static websites. For example, although Al Ahram is considered the first media entity, not only in Egypt, but also in the Arab Region to have developed online content since 1997, yet its reach and impact are currently weak compared to other newly launched private newspapers.
The revenues of the digital platforms are not enough to compensate the losses that the newspaper sector faced after the political unrest, and the Central Bank decision of Egyptian pound floatation. According to newspaper media managers, revenues from the digital platform represents 10 to 15 percent only of the revenue.
The digital versions of Egyptian newspapers are available for free on the Internet. Yet, the percentage of reach and degree of interactivity varies between public and private media. It is estimated that 85 percent of the website visitors come from smartphones.
Private newspapers, such as Al Masry Al youm and Al Watan have an average of 60 million views per month on their websites. The unique number of views for Al Masry Al Youm increased from 900,000 in 2013 and reached 1.2m in 2017. On the other side, Al Ahram website dropped from 850,000 in 2005, to 71,000 in 2017. Below are some figures that would explain the level of interaction:
- AL Youm7 (private): Facebook page with 13.7 million followers, and 7.2 million followers on twitter.
- Al Masry Al Ayoum (private): Facebook page with 10.6 million followers, and 2.9 million followers on twitter.
- Al Watan (private): Facebook page with 9.5 million followers, and 2.8 million followers on twitter.
- Al Ahram (state-owned): Facebook page with a total of 412,000 followers, and 14,300 followers on Twitter.
As for the broadcasting sector, although the capacity of revenues that is derived from the digital services is still limited, many radio stations have developed websites and online streaming services like the television stations that have developed websites, where any user can watch a program through live streaming option, in addition to a YouTube channel. None of these Egyptian digital services are paid for.
State owned television is a bit behind in both the development of a strong digital website, and in the impact of the digitisation process on the reach of the signal to the users.
Nogoum FM and Nile FM have developed strong mobile applications in 2015 on Android and IOS. A senior executive at Nile Radio Network confirmed in an interview that the networks will announce the launching of their mobile applications soon.