Which media do expatriates and expats consume?
When it comes to news and information, most expatriates do not necessarily switch to the local media of the country they’re resident in. Instead, they usually consume a mix of sources, including special expatriate media.
The main factors which determine an expat’s consumption of media are the language(s) spoken by the individual, the languages in the host country’s media and the availability of alternate services (such as satellite coverage when it comes to television).
Language is the one of the largest determinant factors, as a good proportion of expats do not reach a level of proficiency in the local language which makes local media easy to consume. So an English-speaker moving to the US or Australia, may well consume a similar set of local media as at home, whereas if they are living in the Middle East, they may never reach proficiency in Arabic so are closed out of most ‘native’ media (although many places in the Gulf States for example have English-language newspapers, magazines and broadcasting).
The Internet and growing availability of satellite TV have completely changed the way expatriates consume media. New technologies in print also mean that some national newspapers are printed in other countries where there are enough nationals to buy them. Technology has also lowered costs for broadcast media such as radio and TV. Today it is possible for a British expat to sit in a café on Spain’s Costa del Sol listening to an English language radio station, reading a today’s paper copy of one of several British newspapers, while watching a Sky Sports broadcast of a football match. This is an extreme example, but just 20 years ago you would have been stuck with a 2 day old newspaper (only available in tourist areas) and little else.
These trends means that expats have access to a lot of media from ‘back home’ so are a lot more selective about the media they consume from their host country.
Specific expat media caters to the needs of the expatriate, from a local level such as local papers/magazines, though to the national level to international media targeting specific nationalities or expats a group. The expatriate media market has traditionally been very fragmented. There are very few international expatriate media companies, and most media outlets focus either on a single regional expat market or on expatriates of a specific nationality.
In some major expat destinations, there are one or multiple expatriate magazines that focus on the needs of the local expat community. Most of the magazines tend to be free and advertising financed. However, there are also some magazines that rely on subscription fees combined with advertising, the majority of these target to outbound expatriates.
In many major expat destinations, there are local expatriate newspapers available. These newspapers are often run by local media companies that want to extend their reach to the expatriate community, or are operations ‘for expats by expats’. Typical examples are the Mallorca Daily, the Costa Nachrichten (German) or the South China Morning Post. Worldwide expatriate newspapers only exist online (which is no surprise given the distribution challenges); some of the most popular ones include the British Expat Telegraph and the International Herald Tribune’s expatriate specific area.
A range of publishers target expatriates worldwide, with most of the publications focusing on practical issues for the move abroad. Some of the major publishers in this field include Survival Books with its “Living and working abroad” and “Buying a house abroad” series, Explorer Publishing and HowToBooks. There is also a wide range of smaller publisher which only publish a few titles for the expatriate segment.
There are a lot of expatriate websites, they range from the personal to the very general. Most expatriate websites are only available in one language and tend to fall in one of the following categories:
- Local expatriate websites for a specific country or region (i.e. expatriates in Germany)
- Global websites for s specific nationality (eg. American expatriates)