Majority of Kenyans still in 'darkness' after digital switch

Many Kenyans, especially those in rural areas are yet to buy decoders to allow them watch TV despite Kenya having moved into digital television signal.

According to a report by Geo-Poll on Kenya’s Analogue to Digital Switchover, 37 per cent of those surveyed in July said they had no decoder. This means four in ten of those surveyed are yet to buy set-top boxes or decoders.

Geo-Poll, a mobile survey platform said in July 63 per cent reported owning a set top box. “This percentage is higher in Nairobi, where in July 72 per cent of those who have a TV reported owning a set top box. Overall, set top box penetration is highest in Nairobi, Rift Valley, and Central,” said Geo-Poll.

This is despite the country’s compliance with the international deadline of switching all analogue transmissions to digital by June 2015. The survey that covered 1,272 Kenyans reports cost as the biggest barrier in acquiring the digital boxes. This is followed by switching not being a priority and unavailability of the boxes in the respondents’ location.

“Fifty four percent of the respondents cite price as the main barrier with 17 percent describing it as a non-priority. More so, 62 per cent of the respondents who own a television but have not purchased a decoder yet, preferred radio as their main source of information,” reads the report.

For those who have the boxes already, the survey reveals that in March, 67 percent of viewers admitted to exploring new channels. However, this percentage reduced along the way with 21 percent watching 15 channels as at July.

The Big Box

This, the report explains, indicates that while people are interested in trying new channels at first, over time they settle into a pattern of viewership which includes a mix of some new channels and their old favourite channels.

The report adds that even though most Kenyans understand the need of having a set top box, a few have access to the signal.

“In March we reported that only 38 percent of Kenyans nationwide had switched to digital signal with Nairobi having the largest population with 53 percent.”

It further indicates that majority of respondents who have a TV do plan on buying a set top box in the future, with 44 percent saying they will buy one within the next three months.

Monthly paid boxes are the most popular with Go-TV and Star-Times leading in the market share at 45 and 17 percent respectively. Already Safaricom’s The Big Box has claimed 1 percent of the market.

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