Kenya’s pay television and theatre market is headed for a major shake-up with the entry of high speed Internet connectivity devices that enable the streaming of movies, premium sports content and live television shows.
Jamii Telecoms is leading the onslaught with a television Android box- that is priced at about Sh10,000 and gives subscribers access to thousands of Over the Top (OTT) content from Netflix, Huluplus, Kodi and Cloud TV among others.
Jamii Telecoms’ Android box, which was shipped in last week, gives customers access to some of the highly-priced pay TV content such as Super Sports channels 1 to 5 that beams the English Premium League at affordable price of Sh1,000 ($9.90)per month compared to the Sh9,400 that some pay TV operators have been charging.
Users of the Android box must however have a minimum broadband Internet connection of 5mbps for which Jamii is charging Sh5,000 per month to enjoy the high definition content.
It works as an Internet platform in which users download the relevant apps for content providers of choice and use the same to consume the content via a high speed Internet connection.
Joshua Chepkwony, Jamii Telecoms chief executive, said the Android devise is a two- way content transmission platform that local content producers can also use to go global.
He said Jamii Telecoms would partner with local media houses to develop applications that can be included in the Android box making local content available to the global audience.
Mr Chepkwony said his firm is offering broadband connectivity and the Android boxes but customers will have to subscribe to the OTT contents independently.
“We are not in the business of selling content, however with the Jamii Android boxes, we want to add value to our customers by availing a device that can make them utilise the bandwidth capacity they have in a better way,” Mr Chepkwony said, adding that Jamii Telecoms’ fibre connection prices remain the same.
Jamii has rolled out its fibre to homes in wealthy neighbourhoods such as Karen, Lavington, Kileleshwa and Runda targeting the high purchasing power and growing appetite for Internet use in these areas.
The company also operates a ring of the fibre in Nairobi’s Central Business District, Westlands and Industrial Area and in Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu among other towns.
DStv, which in September increased its TV bouquet prices by up to 15 per cent to charge customers between Sh1,050 and Sh9,400 a month, appears headed for a big battle in the market place with the arrival of the likes of Jamii’s Android box that offer subscribers more premium content at lower monthly subscription charges.
The South Africa-based broadcaster remains the most popular service provider in the Kenyan premium TV market due to its exclusive rights to the English Premier League.
Cost of doing business
Besides the home Internet users, entertainment joints in urban and rural areas have relied on DStv to attract customers, sweetening the offering with free wireless Internet, but for which they pay separate bills.
This is now set to change with the use of the Android boxes that not only stream premium content to consumers but also offers them access to high speed Internet connectivity at a lower monthly subscription rate, thus reducing their cost of doing business.
For instance, Cloud TV content that includes Super Sports channels between 1 and 5, major global news channels such as CNN, Bloomberg, BBC World News, CNBC and SKY will be available on Jamii Telecoms’ Android box at a monthly subscription fee of Sh1,000.
Netflix on the other hand offers unlimited access to movies, documentaries and series at monthly rates of between Sh815 and Sh1,222, a significantly lower price than the rate cards of Kenyan pay-TV firms service providers.
With the Android boxes subscribers can also view free movies and live TV shows taking competition not only to the pay TV providers but also the corner Kiosk video stores that have mushroomed in every mall and estate.
The local theatre scene has not been spared either because they stand the risk of losing their customers to online movie streaming channels that are found in the OTTs.
Mr Chepkwony said the upcoming Internet access and digital TV revolution has been made possible by improved telecommunication infrastructure that can support advanced technologies such as cloud computing.
Cloud computing – the delivery of on-demand computing resources over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis - has enabled the OTT providers to transmit their content across continents.
“While traditional TV (linear TV) is programme-based, the streaming technology turns that on its head and empowers consumers to watch news or any other content on demand. Reliable and affordable broadband connectivity is the key driver of this shift,” Mr Chepkowny said.
It has also emerged that a Sweden-based software and infrastructure firm Ericsson, is also eying the pay TV market in Kenya with a Video on Demand (VoD) platform, Nuvu that will enable subscribers to access content through smartphones and tablets.
The firm said it intends to partner with local mobile network providers to offer a mix of international and local content on the platform, which currently has about 3,000 titles -- including Nollywood, Hollywood, Bollywood, and local gospel content.
Subscribers will either pay a monthly premium fee of about Sh511 ($5) to access all contents or a weekly fee of about Sh204 ($2) for select content.
“We believe that the advances in technology in Kenya mean the country is now positioned to explore new tech frontiers, and our upgraded infrastructure now opens multiple opportunities for businesses and homes to experiment with innovative online products, such as video-on-demand,” said Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO Ben Roberts.