Kenya: Pay-TV companies step up rivalry for low-end segment

Technology & Convergence

The battle for control of Kenya's Pay- TV market is set to intensify as DStv unveiled another low-cost product, highlighting the importance of the bottom end segment for growth.

The firm on Friday released a hand-held device that will enable subscribers to watch free-to-air stations like NTV, KTN, KISS TV, and K24 and access selected entertainment channels on its pay-per-view channels.

The product, dubbed 'Walka', will have a minimum charge of Sh385 a month to access 11 channels or Sh990 to access 15 channels. It comes months after the company launched two low-end products in the race to defend and grow market share from recharged rivals.

The first product comes with a monthly charge of Sh440 to access services through a mobile gadget and the other dubbed GoTv will cost Sh585 per month for news, documentaries, sports and movies.

Stephen Isaboke, General Manager MultiChoice Kenya said the company -- which has targeted Kenya's middle class -- is going mass market with the roll-out of cheap packages.

"Growth comes faster by getting into the bottom of pyramid and this segment is our main focus now," said Isaboke, adding that the high cost of access devices remains a challenge. The Walka access kit is retailing at Sh9, 999.

DStv is looking to use pricing as its arsenal to gain marketshare from its main rival Wananchi that has threatened to shake its dominance of Kenya's pay TV market with a low cost model.

Wananchi's product costs between Sh999 and Sh2, 999, but the company has applied to the industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to allow it to offer its services through hand-held devices. This will give it room to introduce cheaper products and broaden its offerings, said CEO Richard Bell.