Rising demand for online content from Kenyan movie makers and TV series producers has created a new business opportunity for independent content distributors.
US-based media distribution technology company Enlyt Media has become the latest entrant in this segment.
Enlyt Media is a technology platform that enables TV networks and independent content providers to deliver content through the Internet. The content can be consumed live or on demand.
The firm provides local television content from NTV, QTV, KBC, and KTN via its platform — www.enlyt.tv at a monthly subscription fee of Sh1,300 ($15).
Subscribers can pay using NationHela, M-Pesa, Visa, or America Express e-cards.
The firm is targeting those in the diaspora who currently access Kenyan content mainly through popular video-sharing website YouTube, but which chief executive Enlyt Media Evans Baiya says does not offer tailor-made content that suits different viewers’ demand.
Unlike YouTube where viewers have access only to specific video clips, the Enlyt platform delivers content complete with continuity and commercial links.
Enlyt Media has joined the likes of Kass TV, and Buni, a multimedia firm that produces the XYZ show, to offer shows in real time on the Internet.
Buni launched it’s a pan-African independent digital video distribution platform last year targeting Internet and mobile phone users.
Buni Television is available through its website, www.buni.tv, for Internet access, and www.m.buni.tv for iPhones, Android and Blackberry smartphones.
Dr Baiya says that as people increasingly turn to the Internet for entertainment, content aggregators and other online service providers are working hard to improve their offering in terms of technical quality and variety.
“The current delivery of content using multiple websites and different content quality has resulted in a confusing and fragmented consumer experience,” said Dr Baiya.
“Enlyt TV is making it possible to have a channel viewed from one’s desktop from any part of the world as if one were watching a TV screen at home.”
The need to make it easy for viewers to access local content online recently saw YouTube launch a Kenyan domain, youtube.co.ke.
Predictably, TV stations dominate content on the website, with Nation Media Group’s NTV leading the pack with 48,252 subscriptions and 118,789,387 million video views as at Wednesday.
Other media channels are KTN with 38,236 subscriptions and 31,775,730 video views, Citizen TV with 44,275 subscriptions and 30,371,851 video views, K24 with 17,631 subscriptions and 12,818,492 views, and KBC with 2,327 subscriptions and 1,410,191 views.
Ms Marie Lora-Mungai, Buni’s chief executive and co-founder, told the Business Daily in a previous interview that other than the independent platforms making it easy for consumers to access content, they also provide film producers a channel to distribute and monetise their products.
Unlike Enlyt Media and Kass TV, Buni mainly focuses on distributing short documentaries, TV shows, animations, Web series and music videos.
“Mobile video is just starting in Africa and what we are doing now is to position ourselves for this untapped market,” said Ms Lora-Mungai.
“We don’t want to perpetuate the idea that content from Africa is mediocre. As such, we will be looking for very high quality short documentaries.”
She added that local producers find it difficult to market their products and have to wait until they are recognised at film events before their work is bought.
The independent content producers are also eying a new crop of broadcasters that will be created as the country switches from analogue to digital broadcasting.
The switch will allow several TV channels to be streamed through one frequency. This means that Kenyans will have a wide array of channels and content to choose from.
The Communication Commission of Kenya, the broadcast industry regulator, last year started the process of issuing 168 new TV licenses under the digital platform.
The licenses will be issued in accordance with thematic areas such as sports, culture, environment and religion.
This will allow service providers to offer specialised, paid for, content.
Video on demand allows subscribers to buy specific programmes instead of packages that have made the pay-TV market expensive and forced consumers to buy content they have no interest in.