Roca News 600


Grand Prix
Small Digital Publisher of the Year sponsored by Deloitte

RocaNews is focused on bringing nonpartisan news coverage to young people who are disengaged with legacy options – and they’re finding great success. 2023 was a transformational year for the business and RocaNews is one of the world’s fastest growing media companies. They have innovated both the content and form in which news is delivered, and with millions of active readers, they’ve significantly grown their audience. Their revenue has tripled from 2022 to 2023, and the team expect another big revenue jump in 2024.

RocaNews has a small team of 10, and their budget is made up of ~$5m that has been raised through venture funding and the revenue they generate themselves. The limited personnel and resources mean that the team can’t make many pivots; instead, they have to come up with strategies that will work and execute them well.

Generating revenue while cutting or maintaining costs has presented a major challenge for Roca, and in 2023, they shifted from focusing purely on growth to building a competent business (while continuing to grow). To solve this problem, the team focused on growing and monetising their mobile app. The app is a gamified news platform where users read stories, play news games, and compete against each other. Users pay for subscriptions to deepen the gamified experience, and also for individual elements within the app. While young people may be hesitant to pay for news, they will pay for games / experiences. The subscriptions are made up of three tiers and were launched in 2023. Ranging from $1.50 to $6 per month, the average subscriber pays $4.24 per month. While the app itself remains free, over 30% of RocaNews’ daily active users now pay for premium subscriptions.

The team also expanded their advertising efforts in 2023, inking their first 6-figure ad deal at the end of the year. The latter half of 2023 was also spent developing additional products which they will begin selling in the coming months.

They have also deepened their relationship with their audience, putting out more and better content than in previous years. They launched a robust original content operation in 2023, providing deep dives for their audience and on-the-ground coverage from Serbia, Sierra Leonne, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Liberland, Bosnia, and more.

All this has been achieved while continuing to rapidly grow their audience, which is up over a million active readers / users from a year ago. RocaNews have also cut costs by 90% and they expect to hit profitability soon.

Looking forward, RocaNews will continue to scale their business reach and revenue based off the momentum generated in 2023. Importantly, they have transitioned from a start-up aggregating current events to a real news publisher in 2023.

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