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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


While unconfirmed reports have it that the posters of letter in  Ghafla Kenya A Hilarious open letter to DsTv and Multichoice later went to Multichoice demanding that the company advertises with them, it is interesting that a rival platform was very keen to jump on the tweetfeed and FB comments generated to market itself and call for people to migrate to them, never mind a month or two ago they were under similar siege.

I've read the post and while some of the issues raised may be genuine, I think Kenyans also want too much for too little. That or rivals are now using trolls to malign other brands online.

Bottom line is, for those who remember embracing GTV and Smart TV, you do have to run a sustainable business model to survive and secondly, it is important to benchmark a brand against best practices elsewhere.

For starters, when it comes to international channels such as Discovery, E! Entertainment, Nat Geo and so on, these are pass through channels that re-transmit content as it comes without repackaging.

So the Discovery World and Nat Geo as you see them here is how they are seen on other continents.

Indeed, when the same issue was raised by DStv subscribers about repeat of marathons in South Africa, the matter was referred to Discovery Channel folks who responded as follows:

"There are usually marathons at the weekend on Discovery World which tend to work quite well.

We would like to give all viewers a chance to see the whole series if they miss the first or second episode hence the repeat of Biblical Mysteries series last Sunday.

The omnibus was repeated twice since different viewers tune in at 6am and at midday. It might happen that some heavy viewers will see the same episode more than once especially with mini-series marathons.

We appreciate the feedback and will take it into consideration when planning marathons on Discovery World in the future."

According to Multichoice, when it comes to acquiring these channels:

"Essentially, MultiChoice does not create the channels it broadcasts. This also means that we do not have direct editorial control over the channel schedules and content."

Secondly, on complaints about the content on channels like Africa Magic and Africa Swahili Magic: We are not producing enough local content that can be aired n these shows. There is no point in complaining about the repeat of TZ movies on Swahili Magic or Naija and SA movies and shows yet we are not producing our own content to compete.

Multichoice has in fact been pushing for people with local content to come forward it is willing to support it. 

Multichoice has two content producers: (Electronic Media Network) MNET and Supersport.

On each at least it has tried to assist in content development on the continent. MNEt has Africa Magic channels while Supersport now shows local football league matches.

Recently, the Multichoice Nairobi office was upgraded to a regional hub overseeing 10 countries as the company scales up the push for local content.

And as much as competition is good in the market place resulting in better products and pricing, at least Multichoice has been consistent.

Gushing over new entrants has seen GTV and Smart TV converts burn in the end only to leave DStv in the market.

So as far as reliability, the company still has reputational currency and will probably be trusted more than a newer flashy rival.

How the market plays out we are yet to see but wholesale criticism of brands without taking time to understand the business models behind them (GTV and Smart clearly showed the wrong market and pricing strategy will burn you) is disingenuous.


  1. Good point - that people should not blame DSTV for the programming decisions. E.g. I was happy to find HBO at a Mombasa hotel recently (not a DSTV offering), only to find that it's HBO South Asia which had a lot of action & old movies, not the new TV series that have made HBO famous.

  2. i have this feeling that perhaps Chinese owned star times is the antidote to Multichoice's monopolistic tendancies and market behaviour. I wish someone can develop local content and then put it on StarTimes or Zuku platforms. This could wipe out this silly
    smile from Dstv faces

  3. Nairobi Tech. I work at Ghafla! No, we did not approach Dstv demanding they advertise on our site.
    Actually within the writing team its funny how the said story has as many hits/views as it does (Many of us didn't think it to be that funny/have the potential to go viral). Nobody was paid to troll DStv in order to benefit their market competitiors.
    The story started out as a facebook inbox that was beginning to go viral. Seeing as we report on tv and movie trends, the said open letter was considered relevant material. We have not used the open letter as a guerilla tactic to coerce DStv to advertise with us. We simply reported on a message concerning television that had the potential to go viral. And clearly by the traction the article is pulling, it did so.

  4. Banks - It is true some of these channels have different versions. For example there is Nat Geo gold which besides nature also shows super structures and so on. Similarly, HBO and Showtime have very good content both series, mini-series and live shows. Depending on the price subscribers are willing to pay, content distributors will purchase what is affordable by their customers. While one might suggest that On Demand content be added where you pay per view, unless it is a major boxing match, locally the market for On Demand movies is weak seeing as it is shops in downtown Nairobi are doing brisk business selling the latest movies for Sh50 each. It's no wonder even local TV stations gave up on showing series which were two seasons behind what guys are buying on the street.

    OKOTH - I think we need to see the staying power of Startimes and Zuku because as I've pointed out, you need to run a sustainable business model to survive. Let me review both services and see.

    Sharon - It is good to get the official line as we said up there, those were "unconfirmed" reports. I believe you also saw them on Twitter. I have also called Multichoice and they confirmed that they are not aware of such a demand.