By Jackson Okoth
StarTimes is challenging the dominance of South Africa’s MultiChoice Ltd, owners of the DS TV bouquet and Zuku-run by Wananchi Group — a Kenyan–owned firm.
“I am informed that StarTimes currently offers the most comprehensive incorporation of the analogue channels currently broadcasted in Kenya,” said Prime Minister Raila Odinga while officially launching the digital TV service last week.“With the company’s satellite and terrestrial technology, this has provided an open and secure multi-frequency and multi-channel digital wireless television transmission platform.”
The Chinese firm is making its debut after a number of firms, which have attempted to set up in the Pay TV market, shut down their operations here and left in a huff.
Exit of firms
The latest player to switch off their signal, leaving behind angry subscribers with useless decoders on their hands was a Swedish firm Next Generation Broadcasting (NGB), operators of the Smart TV brand.
Also leaving this market with a bloody nose after its products failed to impress subscribers was G TV - a direct-to-home, satellite-based Pan-African pay television and subsidiary of UK’s Gateway Broadcasting Service (GBS).
At a lowly priced proposition of only Sh500 for a basic bouquet, StarTimes aims to eat into DS TV’s turf whose cheapest bouquet goes for $10 or Sh850 per month. Zuku’s lowest offer is priced at Sh999.
StarTimes is investing some Sh6.3 billion ($75 million) to roll out its digital TV menu countrywide.
However, DS TV still has exclusive rights to air live English football, giving it an edge over StarTimes and Zuku. MultiChoice is using satellite-based technology, making it easy to access the service anywhere.
However, DS TV subscribers have to grapple with service interruptions whenever severe weather conditions such as rain or windy conditions occur. StarTimes TV uses a plug and play decoder, which works without a dish and uses a mast for transmission of signals, which makes it all weather friendly.