Battle for digital TV market hots up with entry of new boxes

Sunday February 14 2016

Giant pay-TV companies such as DStv don’t

Giant pay-TV companies such as DStv don’t intend to sit back and watch as Netflix swallows up their share of the pie. PHOTO| FILE 

By VINCENT ACHUKA
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A fresh battle for control of the digital set top box (STB) market could be in the offing with the recent entry of new players, one year after the country switched from analogue to digital transmission of TV signals.

This comes at a time when a new report indicates that ownership of STBs in Kenya has risen to 71 per cent due to increased affordability, further widening the pool for companies wishing to dive into the market.

This week, the African Digital Consortium (ADN) started distributing its free-to-air decoders in the market that is currently dominated by DStv, Pan-Africa Network Group, Bamba TV, KBC (Signet) and Zuku.

Over The Top (OTT) service provider Netflix also recently launched in the country, while android TV boxes which enable viewers to stream international channels directly from the Internet have also been gaining popularity.

“In December, 71 per cent of those with TV sets owned a set top box, up 8 per cent from the 63 per cent who owned a set top box in July. In Nairobi, which was the first area to transition to digital signal, 79 per cent now own a set top box, which is a 7 per cent increase from July,” says the report by Geo-Poll.

THE BETTER OPTIONS

DStv, whose market Netflix seeks to penetrate, has started an aggressive campaign to protect its top position.

It has been running an online advertising campaign to convince subscribers and the public why, compared with Netflix, it is the better option, with a comparison chart.

The South African company, which also owns GoTV, says in the advertisements that it has “more content and no Internet connection is required” to watch its programmes, and that unlike Netflix it is an African company.

DStv recently returned the Barclays Premier League to Super Sport 3 to the delight of its Compact Plus subscribers, while a marketing promotion that had seen it slash its installation price to Sh5,000 over the Christmas period has been extended.

The firm has also added more channels to its GoTV bouquet for the same price.

Netflix, the world’s leading Internet television network with over 75 million members, is hoping to eat into DStv and Zuku’s market and has placed its subscription rates lower than the two companies at Sh815 and Sh1,222 a month.

In turn, Wananchi Group, the owners of Zuku, this week increased the bandwidth for its Infinite package and marginally increased the subscription fees, a move the company says is aimed at enhancing the customer experience.