Uganda: Epic pay TV battle

Technology & Convergence

Pay TV providers in Uganda are bracing themselves for a bruising battle for market share. Already, a new player, Azam Media Uganda Ltd, has entered the market with an attractive proposition, and several other providers have lodged their applications with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), a development that has made the UCC excited ahead of next year’s deadline for digital migration. The consumer too, should be looking ahead to a good future in terms of excellent customer care and affordable prices.

UCC data indicates that there are over 300,000 pay TV subscribers shared between five pay TV service providers that are active in the market. These include GOtv and DStv; both products of MultiChoice, StarTimes, MOTV and Zuku TV. DStv and Zuku TV offer satellite television services while GOtv, MOTV and StarTimes offer digital terrestrial television (DTT). Azam is set to give Dstv and Zuku a good run as it becomes their newest direct competitor on the satellite segment.

Uganda has an estimated 6-7 million TV sets, but of these less than 10% are connected to a digital, an indication of a massive deficit with barely a year to the digital migration deadline. Isaac Kalembe, the media relations specialists at UCC, told The Independent that more licences would be issued soon.  Almost all the players have not been offering free to air TV services because the moment your monthly subscription runs out, your TV goes blank; you can’t even watch the local free to air channels.  That too could change soon.  Five companies have applied to import free-to-air decoders – it’s a one off purchase; if you buy it you will watch all the local free-to- air channels in high quality digital video and audio without any monthly subscriptions.   The five companies include; Trans-African Container Transport, Syscorp International, Brivid, Icomsys Africa and World Technologies.  Already, they have delivered samples of their decoders to the UCC for testing, and are now awaiting approval, according to Kalembe.

The competition is therefore getting a little stiffer and Dstv, which is hitherto the market leader, is watching its back. The entry of Azam, which is part of the Bakhresa Group, a household name in Uganda in the soft drinks and baking flour industry, has already made it cut prices of its decoders.

Source: The Independent Uganda. 11 May 2014 - Julius Businge