Radio Africa Group’s new free-to-view digital service launched yesterday will focus on delivering quality television programmes, disrupting the market with channels that were previously available only on pay-TV.
The service is accessible on digital set-top box that will be acquired for a one-off cost of Sh3,299, enabling TV owners to watch over 50 local and international channels. The decoders hit the market yesterday, with thousands of units already sold pre-launch.
“This is the first time that some of these channels are available free of charge locally for 24 hours and to take on this for the first time in Africa, it speaks of the confidence we have in this market,” said Bamba TV general manager Danny Mucira.
Bamba TV signal is already live in Nairobi and its environs, while Mombasa will be covered by year-end in a countrywide roll out to be completed by March.
Radio Africa said its Sh904.30 million ($10 million) investment in the digital broadcasting platform is informed by a compelling need for TV viewers to continue accessing quality TV programmes at zero cost.
The media group is the first local company to venture into digital TV signal distribution. Its service, which has been on a year-long piloting, will offer access to news, entertainment, documentary and sports channels.
Lancia Digital Broadcast, a subsidiary of Radio Africa, has spent more than Sh543 million ($6 million) in deals with international TV channels – most of are currently available locally only on pay-TV platforms.
Radio Africa’s chief marketing officer Caroline Mutoko said most Kenyans already have “enough bills” and do not need more burden.
“In a country where people are already grappling to pay basic bills, you can’t ask them start paying more monthly bills. With Bamba TV, we are in a blue ocean situation,” Mutoko said.
Mucira said an additional $4 million (Sh361.7 million) will be used to acquire rights for more TV channels, with a key focus on local content development over the next few years.
“Most people migrating are being given the option of Pay TV which require monthly subscription fees to view most of these channels,” Mucira said at the launch in Nairobi yesterday. “You can’t transition people from TV which is free to where they now have to pay and that’s why our proposition through Bamba is attractive.”
Currently, viewers will access seven movie channels (consisting of three Nigerian and four international family movie channels), and four lifestyle stations that include Fashion TV, Cars TV, Justice TV and es.tv.
Among the four international news channels available on Bamba TV include Al Jazeera and France 24 English. Children will also be spoilt for choice over the three cartoon channels being aired, while sports fans will have two channels to start with.
“We have positioned Bamba as Kenya’s premier family TV with best programmes for women, children and men,” Mucira said.
More channels will be added ” as and when Bamba TV” is allocated more frequencies by the Communications Authority, he said.
“Our focus is on content that is aligned to the market that we are speaking to. We believe there is a huge market and we have a strong proposition,” Mucira said