Kenya: Worldspace Revenue Declines With Fall in Subscribers

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In announcing its latest financial results, Worldspace revealed that it had lost a contract with the Kenya Institute of Education on 1 January to broadcast primary education programmes throughout the country. The contract accounted for about 13,000 of Worldspace’s subscribers in Kenya.

According to its first quarter report for this year, the company had just 191,646 subscribers globally, 7,459 subscribers down on the last quarter. Revenue also fell to $3 million dollars for the first quarter compared to $3.5 million last year. Revenues from subscriptions stood at $1.8 million, a 14 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Neverthless, as a result of lower overall revenues, the company recorded a $35.5 million loss compared to its first quarter loss of $29.2 million. Interestingly the company had only 8,344 new users in India, 65% down from the fourth quarter of last year. India is the company’s biggest market with 170,000 subscribers, probably making the number of African subscribers somewhere in the 15-20,000 range.

The company’s satellite covers two-thirds of the earth’s population and it has the capacity to deliver up to 80 channels of digital audio and multimedia programming, Its Achilles heel is that it requires a proprietary radio to be able to access it. After a number of years where the company’s “burn-rate” has not come down and subscriptions have not increased very rapidly, the sceptics are wondering how much longer the company will able to maintain the idea that it has a workable business model.

(East African (Nairobi), 5 June 2007)