New report shows that digital migration and online have disrupted the Kenyan media landscape – find out the winners and losers

18 July 2019

Top Story

There have major changes in the Kenyan media landscape and a just published report by Reelforge and TIFA Research provides many useful insights into what’s changed. Russell Southwood reviews the reports’s key findings.

The real BC and AD for the Kenyan media landscape has been before the digital broadcasting migration and after it. According to Communications Authority of Kenya data, from 2015, the number of TV channels has gone from 9 to 68 in 2019. Radio channels have also increased over the same period from 120 to 173. It also claims that there are 22 new online sites.

Newspaper title numbers have remained static. (I’m less convinced by the latter as there have been free distribution and vernacular newspaper launches in this period). Kenyan dailies recorded a 33% decline in circulation between 2013 and 2018, a loss of just over 35,000 paying readers.

According to KARF data, the audience for radio has declined gradually from 92% in 2017 to 66% in 2019 but remains the most consumed media in the country. The story I take from that stat is that if Africans are offered TV, they will consume less radio. TV and online audiences have increased slightly from 50% and 30% respectively over the same period.

According to Reelforge’s analysis based on rate card, advertising expenditure bounces up and down from 2014 to 2018 with a record year in 2017 with election expenditure. Spend by media follows audience size, with radio still taking the lion’s share. However, behind the rate card statistics is the reality of 50-60% discounting on rate card that make these figures hard to read.

Ad spend by industry sector reflects some key changes in the market. Betting and gambling has shot up from almost nothing in 2014 to 22% in 2018, reflecting Kenya’s obsession with online betting. But the worm is turning and regulation must surely be on its way. Communications (for which read mainly mobile operators) has fallen from 17% to 8% over the same period. Other industry changes are less dramatic.

According to Communications Authority of Kenya data, internet users have risen from 16.4 million in 2014 to 45.7 million in 2018. Since the estimated population of Kenya was 50.9 million, the latter figure looks overly optimistic and CA’s methodology – which has been criticized in the past – does not produce a realistic picture. Also the key figure now becomes daily users as this identifies those for whom the internet has become essential.

Amongst these internet users, the most popular platforms in 2019 were: WhatsApp (82%), Facebook (80%), YouTube (61%) and Instagram (48%).  Top three internet searches in 2018 were Sportspesa (a leading online betting company), Kenya and livescore. Based on a Marketing Society of Kenya survey, 47% of respondents thought that social media was most successful channel to reach consumers.

To download a copy of the report click here:


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