Safaricom might partner with the consortium of three major media houses in Kenya; Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Group under consortium Africa Digital Network to venture into the digital TV business. Both the Telco and consortium had a similar Free to Air Model which may have informed the decision to partner. The ADN consortium was expected to launch its Free to air set top boxes at the end of March but has since delayed in bringing the product to the market which has fueled speculation on such a deal. However, we are not sure if Royal Media Services will be part of the deal as it already has its set top box available to the market and using its vast network of stations to market it.
While Speaking to Reuters, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore talked of plans by the company to partner with digital broadcasters to offer Internet data bundles, WiFi and some content to homes equipped for digital television. “That is where our point of entry into that space is going to be. It is in the long-term plan. There is a lot of exciting space to go and explore,” Collymore said. This statement is seen by industry players as an acknowledgement of an imminent deal.
Speculation was rife that Safaricom’s service could either cost KES. 499 a month for the entire bundle consisting of 35 TV channels and the Free to air channels, or that it could be fully free to air with an option for internet content via SIM card slot. This may be subject to change as the Media houses set top boxes were to retail at between Kshs 2000 and 2500. The decoders are set to run on Android Operating System.
If the partnership takes place Safaricom would likely benefit by offering broadcast services such as video on demand while the broadcasters will have a chance to earn extra revenue in internet service provision and easier news dissemination to home users. The ADN consortium dominates Kenya’s media scene, controlling 87 per cent of the TV market and 80 per cent of radio audiences while Safaricom controls 66.7% of the market. We shall keep you posted on developments in this space.
IMG Credit: Cusquenian, Flickr