Ever since the announcement of the launch of Netflix in Kenya, both local producers and consumers of internet TV services were opened up to a starving need for Kenyan consumers. Day by day, more and more people are going digital; from simple lifestyle habits to how they consume information. This is mostly due to the fact that these services give you the freedom to choose what they want to watch and at what time they feel free to watch these programs. However, as much as there is this growing need, usage levels in the country are still low. This however might change soon.
Last week, ShowMax, a subscription video on demand service, in conjunction with Safaricom, launched a two-tier service for watching TV shows and movies via the internet. This is a first-of-its-kind video concept that directly addresses the needs of Kenyan internet TV consumers. Targeting the entry and premium end of the market ShowMax has made available two subscription packages: Select, priced at Sh330 and Premium at Sh880 monthly. This service will be available on smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart TVs, will test the limits of ‘traditional payTV’
Kenya is the first country to have this second tier added to ShowMax. Speaking about this, ShowMax CEO John Kotsaftis said that Kenya has different needs and tastes to other countries and deserves something designed specifically for Kenyans. ShowMax is also uniquely the first international internet TV service that’s priced in Kshs and paid for using M-PESA.
It’s the first to put strong emphasis on local content including having sports clips. ShowMax features local favourites such as Real Househelps of Kawangware, Churchill Live, Auntie Boss, and Kona, as well as popular series and movies from Hollywood like Mr Robot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Blue Bloods, and The Good Wife.
Subscribers can also choose from a number of different download video quality levels. Using the most data-efficient setting, downloading a 20-minute TV show will use approximately 80 MB. This means that a 7.5 GB data bundle would be enough for more than 90 episodes.
Here are several factors that differentiate ShowMax from other services:
- ShowMax Select is priced at Kshs 330 per month is a mobile-first, data optimized product that offers reduced data consumption with savings of up to 75%.
- It has a specific focus on local content. Both ‘Select’ and ‘Premium’ allow subscribers to either stream content or to download up to 25 shows to watch offline for 30 days.
- It is paid for using M-PESA.
- Both tiers allow subscribers to either stream content or to download up to 25 shows to watch offline. Downloaded content is valid for 30 days and data usage is charged separately and works with a customer’s data bundles. Safaricom will be offering some special internet bundles for the same.
Let’s compare the other existing TV content providers against what ShowMax is providing:
GoTv recently slashed its price packages and added more channels as of August 20th 2016. GOtv Plus, GOtv’s most premium bouquet went up in May and the price didnt come down and remains at Ksh. 920 per month. The price of GoTv value bouquet went from Kshs 650 to Kshs 470 per month, GoTv Lite which airs free to air channels costs Kshs 160 per month or Kshs 375 per quarter or Kshs 840 per year down from Kshs 1,800. The decoder alone retails at Kshs 1,999.
Zuku also recently launched a new bouquet available on satellite only with 27 TV and 51 Radio stations which is only available on satellite for Kshs 600 which is cheaper than the previous classic bouquet of Kshs 999 with 68 TV and 51 Radio stations. They have a basic package for Ksh. 399 which gives you 34 TV channels, 18 Radio Channels and Local channels. Zuku also has a premium package of Ksh. 1,399 which gives you 97 video channels, 55 radio channels and local channels. Each of these come with one month free subscription.
Chinese pay television provider, Star Times, reduced its monthly subscription fees and connection charges on its home satellite service. The company cut monthly subscription fees for its two premier pay television bouquets by up to 40 per cent in March. The Nova package for example has a monthly subscription fee of Kshs 499 for 35+ channels and its Super package at Kshs 1,499 per month for 100+ channels.
DSTV, which has had a longer foot standing in Kenya has five packages: Premium which costs Kshs 9,400 per month for 105 channels, Compact Plus has 74 channels for Kshs 6,400 per month, Compact with 72 channels for Kshs 3,750, DSTV Family with 56 channels at Kshs 2,150 and DSTV Access with 46 channels at Kshs 1,050
Netflix, which was launched on the 6th of January 2016 has 3 packages. The Basic package costs US$ 7.99 (Kshs 799), Standard which costs US$ 9.99 (Kshs 999) and premium which is US$ 11.99 (Kshs 1199)* per month. You have to factor in internet costs here.
*this is calculated using the 1US$ = 100 Kshs rate
Most of the services provide local content with the exception of international channels offering a variety of content including news. This is one factor that is highly considered when choosing a package because the whole point is to have fresh and different content on consumer’s screens.
An example is with DSTV. One key advantage of DSTV is the fact that they are the only licensed provider of Barclays Premier League coverage in this region; making DSTV the premier choice when the football season kicks in. They also provide content shortly after it is shown in the United States.
Netflix also has great, top tier content available to you wherever you are, if you have a reliable internet connection. This is a great advantage for people who are avid followers of TV shows like House off Cards, Orange Is The New Black and Narcos since they can keep up with these shows. However, it is strictly a streaming platform, so without fast and unlimited internet connection, you stand at a great loss.
The cable option, Zuku fiber, has fast and reliable internet though the service is only available in Nairobi and parts of Mombasa. Their packages include:
Infinite 1: 1 MBps unlimited at Kshs 2,999
Infinite 15: 15 MBps unlimited at Kshs 4,499
Infinite 30: 30 MBps unlimited at Kshs 5,699
Infinite 60: 60 MBps unlimited at Kshs 9,999
Overall, Showmax seems to have a great advantage over the other TV service providers as it also taps into a factor that most companies, producers and investors are interested in: Kenya’s rapidly growing internet connectivity along with its growing tech-savvy population.