Tough times for Kenya's pay TV as home internet disrupts market

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-06 22:13:01|Editor: xuxin
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NAIROBI, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's pay TV market is facing tougher times as cheaper internet lures subscribers from the service.

The low-cost internet which allows users to access a myriad of TV shows, including popular English football for free, has seen subscriptions to pay TV decline, prompting service providers to significantly lower their costs.

Internet costs have declined considerably in Kenya in the past months, with citizens accessing up to 5 gigabytes (5GB) for 39 shillings (0.37 U.S. dollars).

With the low charges, Kenyans are able to switch and watch plenty of content, especially on their smartphones.

A majority of the youths are now watching shows, some that are screened on pay TV, on their mobile phones at their own convenience.

Similarly, uptake of home fiber-optic internet that comes with free Wi-Fi has increased tremendously in the east African nation as prices drop. It costs as low as 10 dollars a month to enjoy TV and internet services.

One pays some 40 dollars for premium internet TV content, a price that is much lower than the 80 dollars pay TV firms are charging for the same.

A good number of Kenyan families are thus dropping pay TV in favor of home internet which comes with many benefits.

"Why should I pay for pay TV which does not come with internet and is costly? I switched to home internet when they installed it in our estate. With the service, we watch international TV programs for free and all members of my family access the internet via Wi-Fi on their smartphones and laptops," said Samson Otieno, a resident of Komarock on the east of Nairobi, on Friday.

He is among citizens who have ditched pay TV in favor of home internet after enjoying the latter for close to a decade.

The entrance of internet TV firms in the Kenyan market has not made things any better for pay TV companies.

Netflix, a global internet media streaming service for home television and cinema audience, launched its services in Kenya in 2017, bringing tough competition to pay TV firms.

The firm is charging 8 dollars a month for one to success their content in the lowest package.

Pay TV firms in Kenya have responded by lowering their prices considerably in bid to retain their subscribers.

MultiChoice, which runs DStv that had enjoyed great subscriptions due to English Premier League screening, last month cut its price by 30 percent as competition stiffens. Subscribers will now pay between 45 dollars and 75 dollars.

"Our aim is to make great entertainment accessible to more consumers in Kenya at a lower price," said MultiChoice.

Besides DStv, other pay TV firms in Kenya include Chinese-owned StarTimes, Tanzanian AzamTV, Kwese TV, GOtv, and Zuku.

As of March, there were some 180,000 pay TV subscribers in Kenya, according to the Communication Authority, with the number having stagnated at the level from previous quarter. On the other hand, internet connections are on the rise, with subscriptions hitting 47 million as at March.

Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution noted that the Kenyan pay TV market, like other sectors, is grappling with disruptive internet technology.

"In Kenya, the game-changer has been the low internet charges and the entrance of internet TV firms like Netflix which are offering premium content," he said.

This has opened up content distribution that it is no longer a preserve of pay TV firms, making people switch as they can access programs on their phones anywhere they are, he observed

"One way pay TV firms can fight back is by also offering internet services amid their normal ones to give consumers more," he added.