Kenya: StarTimes pay TV widens reach to 12 other towns

Investment

Chinese broadcaster StarTimes has widened the reach of its pay television signals in 12 other towns, signalling a battle for subscribers in towns outside Nairobi and Mombasa.

StarTimes services will now be available in Meru, Embu, Karatina, Nanyuki, Malindi, Kakamega, Webuye, Kitale, Bungoma, Eldoret, Nyeri and Nakuru. This in addition to the country’s major towns Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu where it launched the service last year.

The Chinese firm becomes the second Pay TV provider to offer its services on the digital terrestrial platform outside Nairobi and Mombasa  after, GOtv, a joint venture by MultiChoice and state broadcaster Kenya Broadcasting Corporation which distributes its digital signal through the government owned Signet.

StarTimes Chief Executive Officer Mr Leo Lee said other than increasing its signals reach, the firm has added two new channels in its bouquets bringing the total number to over 70 channels.

StarTimes Chief Executive Officer Mr Leo Lee said other than increasing its signals reach, the firm has added two new channels in its bouquets bringing the total number to over 70 channels.

“Our goal is to ensure the majority if not all households in the country have access to our world class digital television content at very affordable subscription charges,” said Mr. Lee.

“With over 70 channel options now available on StarTimes, we will keep making it even better not only through competitive pricing but also spicing up our content in an effort to give value for money while keeping our subscribers informed and entertained.”

The company has also established a 24 hour call centre that will be at hand to assist subscribers whenever they have any enquiries on the service.

The move by the pay television broadcasters to avail their services upcountry comes on the backdrop of the government efforts to migrate the country from analogue broadcasting to digital to confirm by the global requirements that all countries should have adopted the new platform by 2015.

One of the incentives that the government has provided to make the transition more seamless was to waive the excise duty on decoders and this has led to the equipment reduction by more than half, enabling more Kenyans to adopt the same.

However, the prices of the decoders especially those that are sold by independent dealers are still way above the Sh2, 500 the government had hoped for.

The independent dealers who deal in free to air decoders, mostly found along Luthuli Avenue sell their decoders between Sh5,500 to Sh6, 500 while StarTimes and GOtv decoders retail on an average of Sh2, 000.

The catch for those buying from StarTimes and GOtv is that they have to pay a minimum fee of Sh499 per month since the two providers offer other premium content on top of the free to air channels such as KTN, NTV, KISStv and Citizen TV and which they charge.

StarTimes has indicated that it will be investing heavily in the country in a plan to increase its market share in the lucrative pay TV industry.

“We intend to invest $75 million by the year 2015 which will not only guarantee world class television service in Kenya but also provide employment to over 1,000 Kenyans,” said Mr. Lee.