Firms ride on In­ter­net growth to colonise new TV fron­tiers

| Its pen­e­tra­tion spurs the growth of on­line con­sump­tion of video con­tent

Business Daily (Kenya) - - DIGITAL BUSINESS - by AN­NIE NJANJA

The rapid pen­e­tra­tion of In­ter­net in Kenya is lead­ing to a re­nais­sance of sorts that could po­ten­tially drive non-adap­tive tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers out of busi­ness.

Sa­fari­com, through their Home In­ter­net busi­ness, are lead­ing the new push to have as many homes as pos­si­ble join the grid, ef­fec­tively al­low­ing In­ter­net-based com­pa­nies to colonise new fron­tiers in the coun­try.

“We have passed more than 81,000 homes across the coun­try and con­tinue to in­vest to reach and con­nect more cus­tomers in line with grow­ing de­mand for high-speed data con­nec­tiv­ity,” Sa­fari­com CEO Bob Col­ly­more told Dig­i­tal Busi­ness.

Sa­fari­com, which rolled out 4,000km of cable in the last fi­nan­cial year, charge Sh2,500 for its cheap­est Home Fi­bre bun­dle - 5Mbps, and Sh9,999 for the 40Mbps pack­age.

“Our cus­tomer needs are chang­ing – they are de­mand­ing more from their In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity and we are see­ing the emer­gence of a more dig­i­tally en­hanced life­style. Con­sumers are us­ing more data rich prod­ucts and stream­ing con­tent that de­mands fast and re­li­able con­nec­tions. We will grasp the op­por­tu­nity for our home so­lu­tions to meet both the im­me­di­ate need for con­nec­tiv­ity in the home as well as also lay the ba­sis for more ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies such as smart home so­lu­tions,” added Mr Col­ly­more.

Surf, which re­cently teamed up with Face­book to of­fer low­cost In­ter­net so­lu­tions said it was en­cour­aged by the in­ter­est its prod­ucts are re­ceiv­ing.

“Our cus­tomers are very en­gaged and savvy about the value of the In­ter­net and what it means to them in their daily lives and what op­tions and price points are avail­able. And, as they see prices drop, they see the op­por­tu­nity to use it even more,” said Surf CEO, Mark Sum­mer.

In re­sponse to the In­ter­net spread, Amer­i­can en­ter­prises Net­flix and Show­max re­cently launched op­er­a­tions in the coun­try and have, so far, re­mained in healthy busi­ness space, which is now at­tract­ing more ri­vals, among them iflix.

iflix, which first launched their ser­vice in May 2015, con­quered the Asian re­gion, af­ter un­veil­ing their prod­ucts to 18 mar­kets across Asia and the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA) re­gion, ac­quir­ing over five mil­lion sub­scribers in less than two years.

With a cap­i­tal base boosted by an ad­di­tional Sh9.3 bil­lion ($90 mil­lion) fund­ing by Lib­erty Global Group and Zain Group, iflix Africa an­nounced that it was at­tracted to the con­ti­nent by the huge ap­petite for dig­i­tal con­tent and en­ter­tain­ment, mostly at­trib­uted to a large youth pop­u­la­tion.

“By 2020, Africa will have 720 mil­lion smart­phone users. We aim to meet the en­ter­tain­ment needs of those in­creas­ingly con­nected view­ers,” Mark Britt, iflix co-founder and CEO said.

Yet, even as ex­perts main­tain that tra­di­tional cable and satel­lite TV may not be fac­ing an im­me­di­ate death knell, they re­main adamant that play­ers in the field should brace for a tough fight from emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies.

The pop­u­lar­ity of these on­de­mand video en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies should serve as a warn­ing shot to tra­di­tional broad­cast­ers, who have most of their busi­ness cen­tred around sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing space in be­tween shows or sub­scrip­tions can, say on­line mar­ket­ing con­sul­tants.

“It is be­com­ing more at­trac­tive to sign up for prod­ucts that al­low you the flex­i­bil­ity of pay­ing for only what you use and In­ter­net-based broad­cast­ers are niftily tak­ing over.”

The grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion in

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CON­NEC­TIV­ITY Show­max Chief Ex­ec­u­tive O icer John Kot­saftis. --

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