Digital migration has increased media accessibility in Kenya: Reelforge report

Reelforge Media report
From Left: Reelforge Managing Director, Sammy Lusiola, Reelforge Director Andrew Akeye, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru and Kweya Gerry, TIFA Research Managing Director during the launch of the 2019 Media Landscape Report. PHOTO/COURTESY

There has been a significant increase in media accessibility in the country in the last five years since the digital migration according to the Media Landscape Report 2019.

The report by Reelforge, East Africa’s foremost authority in the field of media monitoring intelligence and TIFA Research, an African based full market research company, points out that the increase has been felt in both the population coverage and the number of TV channels available to viewers. Prior to the digital migration, there were only 14 analogue TV Stations.

Ministry of ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru who inaugurated the report said that the government is committed to a free and fair media and as such they would continue to support passive audience research.

“We want the industry to thrive and we will continue to support and invest in new technologies to ensure that media services reach everyone.”

The findings of the report show that digital migration has led to the emergence of new trends on media consumptions with radio previously holding the highest proportion of audience in Kenya. The radio audience has however declined gradually from 92 percent in 2017 to 66 percent in 2019 but continues to be the most consumed media source in the country.

Reelforge Director, Andrew Akeye commenting on the report, said that:

“In 2019 we have an estimated 81 free to air TV channels and that is close to six times the number of TV channels we had in 2013/14). This has obviously had an impact on audience numbers for these platforms also points out that advertising expenditure remains the primary source of revenue for the media.”

TV and online audiences on the other hand have increased slightly from 50 percent and 30 percent respectively over the same period.  Increase on TV has mainly been driven by availability of more stations and the availability of this medium on different platforms including set-top-boxes and the online.

“Today we have more than 4.5 million set top boxes, more than quadrupling the audience figures for TV. Also noteworthy is the entry of Netflix in Kenya in 2016 with projected subscribers of about 15,000 in 2019. Online audiences are also growing rapidly, in part due to the extended coverage of 3G and 4G networks coupled with a massive decline in smart phone prices, and in part because of demographic changes. Significantly more content is being pushed on-line,” Mr Akeye explained.

Daily newspaper circulation has been on the decline since the digital migration with local dailies recorded a 33 percent decline in circulation between 2013and 2018.

Despite the migration, the Media Landscape Report 2019 indicates that advertising expenditure remains the primary source of revenue for the media. With the Reelforge Director pointing out that:

“With increased competition and declining advertising spends on traditional media, it is time for media enterprises to develop business models that will diversify revenue streams.”

The TIFA Research Managing Director Kweya Gerry also speaking at the launch of the report said that audiences in Kenya are interacting with multiple media platforms and the challenge at hand for media houses is to identify innovative ways of appealing to them.

“The number of active mobile subscriptions in the country currently stands at 49.5 million. These numbers translate to a mobile penetration level of 106.2 percent. The penetration level of more than 100 percent is attributed to the multiple SIM cards ownership in the country. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in its report 2018 indicated that at least 30 percent of Kenyans owned more than one SIM card. Internet subscriptions in the country have grown immensely since 2014 with the highest growth of more than 10 percent of subscribers being between 2017 and 2018,” Mr Gerry said.

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