Category Archives: Media in Kenya

Media Moment: BBC expansion in Nairobi

BBC Hub: Monday, November 5 saw the BBC launch their largest news bureau in the world outside the United Kingdom with Nairobi now being the home of the 300 of the network’s 600 journalists working in Africa.

This is all part of the W2020 project that aims to increase the impact and reach of the BBC.  Rachel Akidi, Head of East Africa Languages, said that in the last year, staff numbers in Nairobi has grown rapidly and significantly from 80 to 300 as several journalists who were familiar faces on local channels are now on BBC. The World Service team now produces 800 hours of new content comprising news, investigations, health, women discussion, sports, business etc, broadcasting in 12 languages, 6 of which are African, with the content distributed via TV, digital and radio.

The day also saw the launch of a fourteenth local program called “Money Daily” and the BBC has also set out to tackle the problem of fake news with a dedicated new program about this that launches on November 19.

TV stats: Meanwhile, Kenya has also seen some new television channels launch recently including Fanaka TV, an all-business channel, and SwitchTV. Another of the new channels has released some interesting statistics on TV viewership on Kenya:

  • Friday to Sunday has the highest TV viewership, in terms of hours consumed daily. But within a month, the period between the dates of from the 12th to the 25th of the month see the highest number of hours consumed.
  • Live viewership of events (e.g. sports, award shows) result in a significant decline in watching traditional media e.g. news, feature shows. Reality TV is mainly watched live due to social media engagement.
  • Wireless streaming does not work on all fixed wireless ISP’s in Kenya. It works over 3G and 4G, which offer a more reliable, but pricier, delivery model.

Kwese Goes Digital: Kwese, the Pan-African digital channel, pulled the plug on its satellite broadcasting services as it announced a switch to focus on digital broadcasting its Kwesé Free Sports, Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play.

Kwese’s free to air service was in 11 African countries, but going forward viewers can download the Kwese app to their phones and subscribe for content, with Kwese iflix being free for 12 months.

GAA: Several people including a current Member of Parliament (MP) and a former Permanent Secretary were charged with obtaining money by false pretences and fraud.

This relates to a Government Advertising Agency (GAA) that was created a few years ago to handle all media advertising for the government. But for several recent months, leading media houses have been complaining about unpaid bills, with the Nation Media Group attributing its latest half-year profit dip to the Kshs 856 million (~$8.5 million) owed to it by the agency.

Scangroup and Russell in Kshs 926M Mauritius Share Swap Deal

WPP Scangroup and its subsidiary Russell Square Holdings (Russell) and have entered an agreement for the purchase of Russell’s 3,660 shares in Research &  Marketing Group – a market research firm in Mauritius, that is owned by Russell. The shares represent 70% of the shares of the target firm and payment will be by way of 53.29 million shares of Scangroup which Russell Square Holdings (Russell BV) has subscribed for. 

It’s been a decade since the WPP deal to buy Scangroup and the new deal with Russell is meant to improve on client services at one of the largest marketing and communication groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.

WPP owns 50.1% of Scangroup, and after the share deal valued at Kshs 926 million (~$9.26 million), will own 56.25% of the company. Scangroup shareholders must approve the deal and WPP will also seek an exemption from being required to make a formal takeover offer as their increased equity position is the result of the strategic investment in Mauritius restructuring  their balance sheet. They also intend for the shares of Scangroup to remain listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

Scangroup reported revenue of Kshs 4.1 billion (from billings of Kshs 14.1 billion) compared to 2016’s revenue of Kshs 4.8 billion (from billings of Kshs 16.3 billion) and a pre-tax profit of Kshs 696 million (compared to Kshs 725 million in 2016). The decline was attributed to the economic crunch and prolonged electioneering period in Kenya. Revenue from outside Kenya also declined due to cutbacks by clients, while digital and public relations were bright spots,  providing the greatest growth for Scangroup in 2017.

WPP Scangroup was trading at Kshs 16.95 per share on the NSE today and the deal comes a few years after the group also bought into Ogilvy across Africa. Scangroup has a Mauritius company that is the holding company for other subsidiaries incorporated outside Kenya including STE Scanad DRC, Scanad Burundi SPRL, Scanad Rwanda, JWT Uganda, Scangroup (Malawi),  Scangroup (Zambia), and Scangroup Mozambique.

$1 = Kshs 100

Whats’s Next In Media?

A forum titled #whatsnextmedia was organized by Nest at the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communications, in Nairobi yesterday. The first panel had Dennis Itumbi, Owaahh, Gaddo and Carole Kimutai. There was some nice chats about the current state of media, but it all came down to – what’s next in in media? WhatsNextMedia panel

Carole:

  •  Tuko produces viral content as Kenyans want short precise news delivered daily
  • They have to monetize continue – and they have just started to scratch the surface. Their sister site in Nigeria has 1 million views daily.
  • A new website has give answers, as there’s too much content out there. People check ma3route every day as it gives enables them to make  decisions like which road to drive on.
  • Legacy media need to understand their audiences.  Readers wants smarter delivery e.g. her Qz.com news app talks to her about the news they deliver.
  • Young people are less informed and can’t answer simple questions. They don’t read, but love gossip – and they now have a gossip page that is very popular.

Gaddo:  

  • As a cartoonist, he has benefited from the freedom of media and internet in Kenya
  • Buni (producers of the XYZ show) contracts state that media owners cannot interfere with  the program’s content.
  • He;s worried that our brains can only process 140 characters – and it takes a lot of expertise to do good, short content
  • We should discuss media ownership in Kenya. The media is owned by the political elite and crooked people.

Dennis: 

  • The Kenyan president has been an observer of his online accounts, but in the next financial year (from June 30, 2016), that will change and he will become more interactive on his personal (ukenyatta) and official (presidentke) accounts.
  • It’s been a struggle to upgrade, secure, and improve government websites (and emails) with limited budgets but that continues. More online interactions brings improvement of government services e.g. internships at NITA
  • He’s fought to get jobs for bloggers and digital strategists and there will be many more for independent-minded  bloggers who can articulate and sell the Jubilee government agenda
  • They have a digital verification hub at State House to confirm and respond to negative media stories.

Owaahh:  

  • Niches – there is no mainstream audience, you need to write for specific people
  • You can’t make content for revenue, and you don’t need 1 million readers. James Murua blog is very big in the literature community in Nigeria, even though not many Kenyans know it. And when you have a niche, you can monetize it.

Others :

  • ghlaflarization of media – other newspapers and media are adding more gossip content, and have click bait headlines to imitate Ghafla that gets 1-2 million visitors per month
  • There are about 8 million whatsapp users in Kenya – more than facebook &  twitter combined, and it’s a  powerful channel for exchange of information – CEO of @ongair

M-Kopa Launches Solar TV

Wednesday had M-Kopa launching a solar TV product & service in Nairobi.  The 16-inch solar, flat screen, digital TV has  26 free channels and can be paid for at a cost of Kshs 50 per day, that can be spread out over two years. mkopa solar TV launch

3-year old M-Kopa, which has over 300,000 customers, and targets to reach 1 million by the end of 2017, uses Safaricom’s M-Pesa to spread out the cost of their solar home equipment to as little as Kshs 40 per day to light homes, and charge phones and radios, effectively extending the hours that some businesses can operate. M-Kopa CEO,  Jesse, said their goal is to be below the Kshs 50 per day that rural Kenyan homes spend on kerosene/paraffin.

The company, which is also in Uganda and Tanzania, will for now only have the TV’s sold in Kenya and plans to move a few thousand units every month. Current M-Kopa customers, with good repayment records, will get calls from the sales team, and there will be excellent after sales service for the TV devices that are ready out-of-the-box. The TV is designed to provide homes with 4 hours minimum of TV  viewing per day even if it’s rainy or cloudy.

mkopa solar tvThe TV components that M-Kopa uses are sourced in China, while the solar panels are now manufactured in Naivasha, Kenya, as the opportunity to do such manufacturing improved after the government removed an import tax on energy components.

The TV is available in two ways: (i) As a “M-KOPA + TV” upgrade pack for existing M-KOPA customers or (ii) as a larger “M-KOPA 400” 20W home solar system with TV for new customers  Both products made affordable by convenient daily payment plans over M-pesa. 

$1 = Kshs 102

Dstv Pricing in Kenya

This week saw satellite TV provide Multichoice Kenya increase the price of their DSTV satellite TV subscription service, with the top (premium) package now going to cost Ksh 9,400 (~$92) per month from October – an increase of almost 15%. This has since been debated on several fronts, one of which was a cost comparison with South Africa pricing where the company is based.

WGKantai dstv

 Another was done  in terms of what paying for TV means compared to other real life costs like paying for housemaids.

In an interview on the price change, Multichoice Africa CEO Tim Jacobs cited several factors behind the increase including Kenya’s shilling which has depreciated 15% this year against the US dollar in which they buy most of their programming such as the (extremely popular) English Premier League (EPL) who’s rights were hiked 70% in the new deal signed earlier this year.

The price increase also sparked a local consumer lobby to pursue a boycott and petition and in past years, a similar dstv cost increase was debated in Kenya’s parliament. Back in April 2010, one MP asked if Kenya’s national broadcaster – KBC, who own 40% of Multichoice Kenya would consider waiving their profit so that more Kenyans could afford to watch the 2010 World Cup .

dstv maid

This may be the most significant sports television moment in Kenya since  GTV went bust after a short period of outspending dstv in the race to televise top sports events.

The new dstv cost that has a figure close to five digits per month seems to be a tipping point with many subscribers now saying that the cost is simply too much and that they plan to downgrade their subscription to a cheaper one or switch to another company.

Rival, Zuku (of the Wananchi Group) has since responded to the dstv increase with an enhancement of their channel package and offering their viewers more programming, at no extra cost, by adding as many as 19 new channels such as Nat Geo Gold, Fox Sports 2, BET, Discovery Science, IConcerts, TLC, Fox News, FX , Bloomberg, E!, Sky News and Euronews.dstv multichoice

It’s not clear how many of the 100,000-160,000 dstv subscribers in Kenya are on the premium package, but it’s clear that many of those that do, subscribe to it for the sports packages (which are exclusive to the premium tier), and also that many of the same premium dstv subscribers do enjoy watching their favorite sports teams and players with their friends and fellow fans in sports pubs, and not at home where they are paying for the sports (and face many distractions!).