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ZimPapers testing out WhatsApp news subscription service

ZimPapers is testing out a new WhatsApp-based subscription model as local media continues to battle to diversify their revenue models in the age of the internet.

At the time of writing, it doesn’t seem that there’s a pricing model which suggests that the new service is still being trialled with users getting a chance to pick a daily/weekly/monthly and experience the service before committing to pay for it or not.

How does it work?

By texting News to 0719004434, a chatbot will offer you subscription options along with the pricing and instructions on how to subscribe. As aforementioned, at this time all three subscription options are free meaning if you want to test out the Zimpapers news chatbot, this is as good a time as any to do it.

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Once you have subscribed you can then go through a headline summary or chose from 9 stories that Zimpapers curates. From what I got I’m assuming these are 9 of the biggest stories on that day;

It’s hard to critique the service at this point in time because there is no price attached to it at the moment. The one thing that did stand out to me is that there was no sports news at all. I noticed it because I like sports, some might not care about that omission.

My concern and is how subscribers who are paying for this will treat the content. From a ZimPapers perspective I worry that if they place a price on the content they’ll have to start worrying about message forwarding where one person who is paying for this content will start to create groups where they send the content and it’s read by thousands at no cost. Other media houses resorted to sharing PDFs that are password protected to minimise people sharing the content for free.

PDFs however present a problem of data – as some of these may be larger than necessary and disincentivise customers who can’t afford the data.

Either way it is great that ZimPapers and other local media houses continue to look for ways to diversify their business models and take advantage of the opportunity presented by the internet.


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