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Kenyans warming up to internet TV as digital subscriptions rise

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A tiny cable stretches from a wooden post into Henry Muhandi’s house in Komarock on the east of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

The cable, which supplies internet, was installed last year and it is through the service that Muhandi’s family watch local and international TV shows and movies.

"I used to have pay TV but discontinued the service after realizing I would get more if I go for internet TV," said Muhandi on Sunday.

Before taking up the service, he signed up for a 30-day free service, loved it and subscribed, he recounted, adding that he accesses the shows on every of his devices that include smartphones, laptops, TV and tablets.

Muhandi is among a growing number of Kenyans who are embracing internet-protocol TV (IPTV) in the East African nation as the service picks up amid growth of digital TV subscriptions.

Launched in Kenya last year, internet TV subscriptions are fast-rising, clocking 23,076 people in 2018, a rise from 18 in 2017, latest data from Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows on Monday.

One of the things that are pushing up the uptake of internet TV in Kenya are the low charges coupled with the many shows one can watch.

Monthly charges for the internet TV starts from as low as 260 shillings (2.6 U.S. dollars), which is lower than pay TV subscriptions that charge from 5 dollars.

"The good thing with internet TV is that I can download the shows and movies and watch later offline," said Muhandi. Popular internet TV service providers in Kenya include Iflix and Netflix.

Internet TV is the newest kid on the block in Kenya in terms of channels to access TV shows, the others being cable, satellite and set-top-boxes.

Just as internet TV, subscriptions to the rest of the channels have equally increased exponentially, making Kenya’s migration to digital TV a roaring success.

According to the CA, some 5.82 million Kenyans have subscribed to digital TV in 2018, up from 1.31 million in 2014 when Kenya announced the switch to digital migration.

From the 5.82 million subscribers, 4.51 million people use free-to-air set-top-boxes, 1.1 million satellites while 466,604 million use cable TV.

"Internet TV is the future of television as global trends show. In Kenya, the service is spreading fast as more families take up home internet and it may be just a matter of time before it catches up or even overtakes pay TV since consumers are moving with trends and demanding more," said Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution in Nairobi.

According to Mwaso, IPTV has made it easier for consumers to watch movies and TV shows on smartphones, tablets and even computers, making it appeal more to young people, unlike the other channels that force people to sit before a TV set.

Digital TV has also opened space in the broadcasting sector.

Kenya has in the last four years recorded a surge in the number of radio and TV stations thanks to digital migration.

Unlike before when one had to set up transmission stations across the country, with digital TV, all an investor needs is to register their stations and formulate content, which is then carried by companies offering distribution services.

As of 2018, there were 120 digital TV stations in Kenya, up from 60 in 2015 while the number of radio stations stand at 178 from 139 in 2015.

           

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