NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
On the roof of Joseph Imbare’s semi-permanent
house in a village on the outskirts of Kakamega town in Western
Kenya, a TV satellite dish conspicuously stands out.
Initially, the dish
from a Chinese pay TV company, installed about two years ago was
an eye-catcher, but not anymore.
Several others in
the village have subscribed to the pay TV service, making it not
a preserve of the middle-class anymore.
his use of the Startimes service to the low subscription charges
the company offers.
“If it was not the
low subscription charges, then you would not be seeing satellite
dishes in the villages in this area. I pay 3 U.S. dollars a
month and I am able to watch many channels that include movies,
documentaries, international and local news and music,” Imbare,
a subordinate staff at the county government, said on Thursday.
His two neighbors,
who offer motorbike transport services and have irregular
income, also subscribed to the pay TV service, a sign of its
affordability and popularity.
Kenya has several
pay TV companies, which offer services that range from as low as
0.06 dollars to 2.7 dollars per day.
include AzamTV, StarTimes, Kwese TV, GOtv, DStv and Zuku.
StarTimes, GOtv and DStv are the biggest and have in the last
years been pushing their services to the public with low monthly
charges, a move that is paying off.
services are classified as terrestrial, cable and satellite,
with the latter being the most expensive.
earners have embraced terrestrial subscription, as the numbers
of pay TV subscribers grow to about 5 million some three years
after Kenya shifted to digital broadcasting.
Authority of Kenya (CA) data indicated that there are about 4.6
million pay TV subscriptions in the East African nation.
subscription broadcasting services have the highest subscriber
base, according to CA, standing at 3.53 million. They are
followed by satellite at about 990,000, and cable at 128,000
“The faster rise in
numbers is attributable to the affordability of terrestrial
subscription broadcasting services whose prices range from 2
dollars a month to 15 dollars, compared to cable subscription
prices from 10 dollars to 20 dollars and satellite from 3.9
dollars to 80 dollars,” said the CA in its report for the first
quarter of 2017/2018 financial year.
Simon Ajwang, a
driver with a government department in Busia, said he embraced
pay TV as one can pay even for a week only.
“I live in Busia
town because of work but my family is in the village in
Budalangi, some 40 km away but that is where I have installed my
pay TV. Most of the time I subscribe for a week when I go there
as I love wildlife documentaries and international news,” he
Bernard Mwaso, a
consultant with Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi, noted that pay TV
has become popular among low-income citizens due to declined
charges and innovative payment solutions.
“The fact that
people can pay only when they want to watch makes it affordable
and convenient. It becomes like a mobile phone where most people
load airtime and use only when in need,” said Mwaso.
payment mostly done via the mobile money, according to him, has
made those citizens residing in urban areas and visit their
rural homes occasionally install pay TV services there.
“I am one of those
who have installed pay TV services at their rural homes and I
only subscribe when I am there for a week or two. It is
convenient,” he said.
Since 2014 when
Kenya shifted to digital broadcasting, there has been an
explosion of TV and radio stations. From some five stations in
2014, the East African nation currently has 66 free-to-air local
TV channels, 139 commercial stations and 36 community radio