Rwanda: Azam TV Entry to Intensify Rivalry in Pay TV Market


Competition in the local pay TV market could intensify following the entry of Tanzania-based Azam TV.

StarTimes and Tele10, which markets DStv, Canal+ and GOtv, have been the only pay TV service providers before Azam's entry.

The company, owned by Tanzania's Bakhresa Group's Azam Media, could ride on the back of recent increases in subscription fees by the two pay TV firms to make inroads in the local market.

Last week, StarTimes announced it would increase monthly subscription fees for most of its bouquets effective May 1, while DStv raised its fees effective April 1.

Inflation, satellite lease and programming charges and efforts to enhance efficiencies were cited as reasons behind the increase.

Faradjallah Ndagano, the Azam Media operations manager, said their entry will shake-up the market and push service providers to up the game to stay competitive.

"We are coming in at a time when Rwandans need an affordable pay TV...In fact, our entry will greatly benefit subscribers," he said in an interview with The New Times on Monday.

Azam TV has two bouquets - one for English viewers with 80 channels at Rwf9,000 per month.

The other bouquet has 60 channels and is targeting French-speakers, Ndagano said, adding that it is at Rwf6,500 monthly subscription fees. Both bouquets go for Rwf18,000 per month, he added.

Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, the head of communication and media regulation at the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), said Azam was licensed in December last year. Mutabazi said the move will ease access to pay TV and drive TV penetration rates.

"With increased competition, operators will have no choice but to improve and offer better signals, pricing and content to stay competitive," he added.

Mutabazi challenged local TV stations to develop better content and improve programming to attract wider viewership in Rwanda and across the region.

Of Rwanda's over 11.5 million people, only about 200,000 households own decoders, according to RURA.

Following migration to digital broadcasting last July, one has to have Pay TVs or a free-to-air top set box to watch TV.

Amani Ikomezekudufasha, a Kigali resident, is hopeful that the coming of Azam TV will push pay TV stations to improve and also offer competitive prices.

Azam TV was started in 2013. It launched services in Uganda and Kenya last year and Burundi and Rwanda this year.
Source: The New Times 22 April 2015