Seems guys at the Paul Marshall owned print news startup XNews are on steroids. The firm launched in March today announced it would launching its online platform this month with plans underway to expand the publication regionally to cover Kampala, Uganda in 2015.
Backed by UK-based Fusion Capital and Amana Capital, XNews, Kenya’s first ever free, daily evening newspaper is claiming a surge in circulation that has seen it become the third largest print newspaper in Kenya within just three months of its launch, beating the Star, the People, Citizen and tens of others on the streets.
With its over 25,000 copies a day, an expected rise to 35,000 by the end of June, and 50,000 a day before year end, XNews is only behind longstanding industry leaders Nation and Standard. Daily Nation is estimated to have between 150,000 to 170,000 copies sold daily while Standard sells between 65,000 to 70,000 copies a day. Star is estimated at just 14,000 copies a day.
XNews pegs its rapid rise to tightly targeting Nairobi’s youth aged 19 to 40 years which forms the majority of the city’s population which is also predominantly well educated, opinionated and tech-savvy and not ready to spend on news they can read online or via social media.
According to recent research from the African Media Barometer, national newspapers in Kenya have seen their circulation drop steadily in recent years, from around 800,000 copies a day a few years ago to a joint circulation of between 350,000 and 500,000 today.
The research reports that the country is facing a generation that is unwilling to pay for news, generating a growing need for local newspapers to cover issues that are pertinent and improve readers’ lives, as opposed to the political and event reportage that still consumes local daily pages. A recent Consumer Insight survey found that Kenyan youths’ interest in politics is negligible, and is, instead, firmly centred on lifestyle, tech, music, sports and relationship topics.
XNews is distributed free across the city in the late afternoon and early evenings at key matatu and bus termini within the Nairobi Central Business District, targeted office buildings, key roundabouts and highways, in parts of the Industrial Area, Westlands, Kilimani, and Upper Hill. XNews also distributes over 2,000 copies daily to the University of Nairobi (UoN), the largest university in the country, and will soon expand its circulation to other major universities such as the United States International University (USIU).