Published in 1998, Detik.com is the first online outlet in Indonesia and offers short, concise, and to-the-point news, free of charge. The success of Detik.com then brought dozens of similar online media in the late 1990s, such as Astaga.com, Satunet.com, Lippostar.com, Kopitime.com and Berpolitik.com. Only, these new online media couldn’t t follow the success of Detik.com. There are two reasons why online media did not develop in the early 2000s. First, Internet access in Indonesia at that time was still low, plus the cost of Internet is also relatively expensive. If calculated, it is cheaper to buy newspapers than reading news in online media. Second, the devices to access online media were still mainly PCs, while access from mobile devices was still limited.
Changes occurred after the 2010s, triggered by the rise of cheap smartphone devices with Internet access. At the same time, the cost of Internet access kept on getting cheaper. Today consumers generally access the Internet via mobile devices, more than through personal computers. Currently, almost all cell phones circulating in Indonesia can be used to access the Internet. In 2017 there were 371.4 million cell phone users, 142 percent of the total population (262 million people). In average, there are 1.4 cell phone numbers per person because some people tend to have up to 3 cell phone cards.
These changes made online media grow again. The growth was marked by a rise in online media readers, and followed by a decrease in print media readership. The enormous amount of online media is due to the ease of setting up an online outlet, which can be operated with limited budget and human resources. There is no exact data on the number of online media. The Press Council estimated that till 2017, the number of online media was 43,300, of which only 234 (5 percent) could be verified by the council. As much as 95 percent of online media could not be verified due to having no editorial address, no legal entity, and no standard in writing.
There are three categories of online media. First, online media as a replacement of printed media that moved into publishing online versions only. Examples are: Horison-online.com (previously known as Horison Magazine), Bola.com (previously known as Bola Daily), Cewekbanget.id (previously known as Kawanku Magazine), Nova.grid.id (previously known as Nova Tabloid), Hai.grid.id (previously known as Hai Magazine), etc. Second, online media which are part of printed media that keep both versions. The examples are: Liputan6.com, Kompas.com, Merdeka.com, Tribunnews.com, Republika.co.id, Bisnis.com, Jawapos.com. And third are those online media that were born digital without ever having a printed version, such as Okezone.com, Viva.co.id, Detik.com, Kapanlagi.com, Kumparan.com, etc.
Till 2017, the online media with the largest number of readers, according to the data from Alexa.com, are: Detik.com, Tribunnews.com, Liputan6.com, Kompas.com, Merdeka.com, Viva.co.id, for news; Kapanlagi.com and Bintang.com for entertainment; Bola.com, and Bola.net for sport.