Eutelsat and industry leaders discuss growing trends, strategies and predictions for East African viewing
Presented by BBC World News journalist Nancy Kacungira, Ebru TV, iSAT Africa, Trace and Eutelsat discussed some of the major changes, strategies and trends in the East African region to address how broadcasters can increase their TV viewership in this growing region.
The East African region consists of 20 countries and boasts a wide variety of cultures and entertainment tastes. This market represents over 453.3 million people, equivalent to 5.7% of the world population. Television through linear distribution models is the primary source of entertainment for many of these people, with access to television rapidly growing throughout the region and across Africa in general. This makes the region a prime target for broadcasters who want to establish an early foothold in rapidly growing markets.
Eutelsat and satellite service provider iSAT Africa recently hosted a digital discussion about broadcasting in East Africa with key stakeholders and leaders in the region. Hosted by BBC World News’ Nancy Kacungira, Eutelsat EVP Christoph Limmer and Rakesh Kukreja (Managing Director of iSAT Africa) discussed trends, viewership numbers and strategies that broadcasters can use to bolster their influence in the region. They were joined by Murat Kesgin (CEO of Ebru TV Kenya) and Danny Mucira (Managing Director of Trace, East Africa).
If you would like to watch the webinar, you can do so here. This blog gives a summary of four key insights that were revealed in the webinar from each individual, serving as a small taste of what you can expect in the full webinar.
Opportunities for content and quality have recently developed
“Looking back at the last 10 years, a lot of things have changed in terms of content for sub-Saharan Africa. The primary differences lie in local content and access to technology.” - Christoph Limmer, Eutelsat EVP
When asked for tips and insights for broadcasters to grow their audience in East Africa, Christoph Limmer summarised his advice in two primary categories based on the last decade of viewing trends in Africa.
Local content and local languages are critical
15 years ago, Africa was flooded with international content from broadcasters with little to no local content in the native language. Today, local content and channels generate more views across Africa than international offerings. “Differentiate and produce local content for the specific country you’re targeting,” said Christoph.
Technological opportunities exist
Almost 90% of East African consumers have yet to experience HD quality viewing. In the past, this was related to broadcasting costs and a barrier to entry for pay-TV. Today, the costs of creating a channel are much more reasonable and a middle class that can afford premium products is growing across the region. This leaves a gap for providers to offer better viewing experiences and rise above their competitors. Compared to SD, HD quality attracts more viewers for longer, which increases advertising revenue.
Appealing to the youth demographic throughout East Africa is essential
“The importance of the youth market cannot be understated. From a consumption and content perspective, the youth want platforms and messages that empower them. They respond to content created by younger demographics that talk to their aspirations and are relevant to them.” - Danny Mucira, Managing Director of Trace, East Africa
9 out of 10 of the world’s youngest countries are in Africa. According to Trace, approximately 65%-70% of the people across East Africa are under 35 years old. This means that broadcasters seeking to gain an audience in Africa will have to appeal to younger generations.
In the webinar, Danny Mucira presented the argument for mobile-friendly viewing and user-generated content. He reasons that content presented in this way has proven effective and relevant for younger markets. This is especially critical when dealing with countries within East Africa that have some of the youngest populations on the planet.
“TV operators need to offer content the youth want on platforms that they enjoy. Specifically, offering user-generated content via new channels such as mobile. If broadcasters can enable the youth to express themselves and create meaningful conversations, they will make a connection with the younger market,” said Danny Mucira, Managing Director of Trace, East Africa.
A key desire of African viewers is content diversity
“The first step [in growing an audience] is to identify needs in the region you operate. In my experience, the lack of diversity is one of the most significant problems. Broadcasters should address these needs and use data to monitor whether those needs are being met.” - Murat Kesgin, CEO of Ebru TV Kenya
Throughout the webinar, the participants discussed the importance of content for the East African region. Diversity of that content was acknowledged as essential to gaining a wider audience.
For example, Kenyan viewers did not have access to a variety of channels in the past. Today, with a more diverse set of content on offer, Kenyan viewership has grown. However, as Murat Kesgin pointed out, this was only accomplished through analysing feedback and data.
Ebru TV had long worked on identifying what content resonated with the viewers of Kenya and used that data to customise their offering. Using alternative media such as social channels and YouTube for inspiration and feedback was critical to offering well-received programs and entertainment for the region.
International solutions are not necessarily the best for Africa
“Think out of the box - there are innovative solutions using satellite technology. It’s very common that someone would go overseas and see the internet as the only way, but I believe that in Africa the requirements are very different.” - Rakesh Kukreja, Managing Director of iSAT Africa
The past approaches of offering international channels and content were not as effective as the local-based approach used today. Similarly, different people, countries, locations and cultures will have different requirements. Broadcasters cannot rely on what has worked for other countries. Effective solutions that work for growing a local audience have to be tailored to the needs of those people and countries.
It was further agreed by the participants that hybrid technologies and innovative solutions that take the local needs and environment into account will likely prove effective in the future for East Africa. Broadcasters would thus need to look to innovative new technology in order to expand their East African viewership in the future.
More insights available in the webinar
If these insights were interesting to you and you would like to find out more about broadcasting in East Africa or just how to grow your viewership across Africa, be sure to watch the webinar here - completely free of charge.
Eutelsat has extended the reach of broadcasters worldwide to reach growing markets located in Africa, the Middle East, South America and more. To discover how Eutelsat and satellite connectivity are transforming the way Africa accesses news and entertainment, visit our website or contact us today.