Thailand Media Landscape Highlights
In 2020, the media in Thailand had to endure hardships brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic had a far-reaching effect on the economy, affecting media revenues and ad spending, which is an important source of income. Data from the Media Agency Association of Thailand (MAAT) showed that ad spending in 2020 fell 14% to 104.509 billion baht compared to 122.18 billion baht in 2019.
The situation prompted media agencies to adjust their business operations and content formats to survive and attract readers. Publications such as magazines and newspapers, which have been dealing with drastic changes in how audiences consume media, are shifting their focus to online content and social media.
While the popularity of magazines and newspapers has declined, digital TV and over-the-top TV (OTT TV) services, or video streaming services, enjoyed increased popularity and advertising spending. The growth in these media outlets can also be attributed to people spending more time at home, due to social distancing and work-from-home measures.
Likewise, social media took up as much of people’s time and attention. In Thailand, Instagram gained more prominence as more celebrities and influencers uploaded photos and videos of themselves doing interesting things at home.
TikTok was another entertainment platform for users who like short-form videos. LINE also garnered a lot of popularity. During the COVID-19 outbreak, LINE Call saw a spike in voice and video call usage via personal computers because many Thais used the service when working from home or to stay connected with their groups of friends.
For more in-depth analysis of developments of the Thai media industry, download the Thailand Media Landscape 2021 Report by InfoQuest.
Twitter’s Role in Politics: Thailand’s political climate became heated in 2020 with many political protests and movements. Twitter became the key social platform for expressing political opinions and had gained a significant amount of political-minded users.
This marks a shift in the Twitter user demographics in Thailand, which was previously dominated by teenagers, who used the platform for sharing news and stories about their favourite celebrities.
As most of the political activists who took part in protests were students, Twitter became the main platform for expressing political opinions and discussions and sharing news on the protests. Twitter activity became especially intense following protests calling for democratic reforms.
In addition, protest organizers used Twitter as their main tool to announce the locations of flash mobs. Those who wanted to take part in the flash mobs had to follow news and updates on the protest leaders’ Twitter accounts.
New Role of Influencers: Influencers in Thailand played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them are prominent figures in their respective sectors and have lots of followers. Some have used their platforms to raise public awareness about COVID-19 and improve people’s understanding of the outbreak
Government agencies have also tapped on influencers on communicating public information in order to quash fake news and raise public awareness of important issues.
For example, the Drama-addict Facebook page by Dr. Wittawat Siriprachai, or popularly known as “Sergeant Pichit Kajatpanchon”, was one of the influencers who helped disseminate news and information on the COVID-19 situation. The page, which has more than 2.6 million followers, also provided clarifications on health and social issues that were sources of “drama”.
The Diversification of Print Media: Magazines and newspapers have been on a decline as consumers prefer to get their news and information from online sources and social media. Print media, therefore, had to make adjustments and switched to present their content via online channels and social media instead. At the same time, these publishers also expanded the scope of their business by tapping on the experience and expertise of their editorial staff in other areas. They include organizing events, seminars and offering public relations services.
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New key media outlets
The COVID-19 crisis has affected many media outlets and pressured them to restructure their organizations and reduce their workforce. The situation allowed journalists who were laid off to turn the crisis into an opportunity by starting their news websites. Some media outlets also rebranded in response to the needs of their diverse range of consumers.
- Finance news website MoneyClub.asia and independent news website Thisrupt.co., were started by experienced journalists, who utilized their media experience and experiences in their new ventures.
- News outlet WorkpointTODAY underwent a rebrand, which introduced new types of content such as news articles, interviews, videos and podcasts. These changes help to address the shift in information consumption habits towards online news sources.
What lies ahead in 2021?
The competition for media coverage continues to be intense this year as Thailand has to grapple with both the COVID-19 outbreak and the political tension. Consumers are closely following news about these issues.
As these political movements are led by young people, online channels are their preferred source of news and information. As a result, media outlets have adjusted the way news is presented. However, their roles and credibility are often scrutinized as audiences are paying attention to how news is reported in this area.
Therefore, the challenge for the Thai media is to build credibility in their news reporting. Besides the main, traditional news outlets, online news agencies, websites and social media influencers will have to work hard to be recognized as trustworthy news sources.
For more insights on the key media trends and developments in Thailand and how they have been impacted by COVID-19, get the Thailand Media Landscape 2021 Report.
The blog article is written by Sunita Phanraksa, Editor, PR News and Media Relations at InfoQuest, a leading media intelligence organization and news agency in Thailand.