broadcasting-africa
Content Management

New content opportunities in African broadcasting

Kenya is one of three countries in Africa that complied with the International Telecommunication Union in migrating TV broadcasting from analogue to digital broadcasting by the set global deadline of June 17th 2015.

Despite having a court case that delayed the initial switch by around two years, Kenyans now have opened up a new avenue for digital content through the various local television stations that have sprouted up around the country.

Dan Waigi who works for Bazaar Television, has seen the great transformation since the digital migration began. Bazaar primarily focuses on the automotive industry and features on both local and international content in this field.

“We have around 70 broadcasters in the country,” Waigi told IDG Connect. “It is now relatively easy to start a digital station. One of the greatest challenges before was getting the frequency, and distributing the signal. This has been taken care of after the migration.”

Waigi explained that the bandwidth consumed by one analogue frequency can now hold 20 broadcast signals on the digital platform.

“Signal distribution also is no longer a problem, we now give our signals to a signal distributor (like PANG and Signet) which takes care of the infrastructure at a fee, taking that burden off us. Laying down a signal distribution infrastructure can be quite an expensive affair,” Waigi elaborated.

Content is now the differentiating factor between the many who are joining the broadcasting business.

In a recent IDC “Battle for Digital TV Subscribers” analysis of the industry, Leonard Kore, an analyst at IDC East Africa, admitted that content will dictate which service people rush to.

His analysis gave DSTV, a pan African digital broadcaster owned by Multichoice, a head start due to the fact it has a wide variety of content including the much sought after, English Premier League which it holds exclusive rights to across Africa.

It is estimated that DSTV reaches over 8.4 million households in Africa with South Africa and Nigeria being their biggest markets.

Other players are also biting up big chunks of the bottom of the pyramid. Startimes, a Chinese backed company, and GOTv (still a Multichoice company) have been able to capture the less than US$10 per month market.

“Other emerging players (Safaricom and Jamii Telecom) in the TV space can partner with such players to provide premium content; alternatively, they can seek international partnerships with global content providers such as Netflix or Comcast. IDC believes that quality content will always favour any player and is a vital strategy for entities in the industry,” Kore added.

Beyond international content, local content producers also have a great opportunity to make a mark in the television industry according to Kore.

“Locally produced content will also be a new battleground for content providers. The quality of local content has been poor in most instances, and a large percentage of viewers (specifically the youth) have a greater preference for international TV channels such as BET, E! and MTV,” Kore said.

He urged East African countries to emulate the Nigerian industry which has embraced its own local film and music industry. iROKOTv is an example of an African television content solution than now has six million users through their web and mobile platforms.

For Kenyan users, getting in the airwaves is now easily possible. Potential broadcasters need around Kshs 200,000 (US$2100) per year to maintain their broadcast license from the regulator.

New broadcasters setting up may need, “a server with a play out software, an editing suite and of course some cameras. You can opt to have a studio setup but that depends on the model you adopt. Not so many content providers are doing live transmissions yet,” Waigi explained.

Waigi noted that the biggest beneficiaries to these developments were producers and creative companies. There is a need for content as broadcasters are struggling to become and remain relevant. “Content is King,” Waigi repeated the rallying call in digital media.

The idea is to generate content that can be easily monetised. Niche markets are a fairly new idea in the country but this could catch on. The niche markets created could also be a great avenue for advertisers both big and small.

“In the past, advertising has been based on the two extremes. Very expensive ‘main stream’ TV advertising or do fliers. Only blue chip companies could afford the expensive TV advertising. But now it has become affordable. With Kshs 20,000 (US$200) you can now get a [an ad] slot. Most SMES can afford to do it,” Waigi said.

The impending fragmentation of content is also in the offing. There are currently channels that dedicate themselves to farming, business, religion and sports. It is uncertain how the market will behave in the midst of too much fragmentation but broadcasters, viewers and advertisers will push the industry forward just as has happened in developed countries.

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Vincent Matinde

Vincent Matinde is an international IT Journalist highlighting African innovations in the technology scene.

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