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A Discussion On Video On Demand Services Kenya: Will They Succeed?

The digital age has increased the demand for content immensely. Content providers are trying their level best to satisfy the consumer who is almost always online. Studies reveal that the average millennial spends more than 8hrs on the internet daily.  This has been enabled thanks to low cost of owning a smartphone leading to a high smartphone penetration rate.  Affordable internet subscription by telco companies and ISPs also fuel this further hence the onset of video on demand services.

Video on Demand Services refers to a system where a viewer can be able to watch audio or video content from a wide variety of shows, movies and TV series. This allows the user to watch this content when they wish to as opposed to normal programming which is scheduled. The most popular platforms offering this service are Netflix, Hulu which dominate the global market.  Netflix is available in Kenya while Hulu is only available in the US. These location restrictions have given rise to local video on demand services such as Showmax, Irokotv, iFlix and Viusasa.

Showmax offers affordable subscriptions for movies and TV Shows with majority being of American origin. Iroko Tv provides Nigeran films and TV Shows dubbed ‘Nollywood’ which is regarded as o the most successful African film industry. Viusasa owned by Content Aggregators Limited (CAL), has given itself the onus of promoting Kenyan made content. It is the only platform that has intentionally strived to showcase Kenyan work from talk shows, skits, comedies and reality TV Shows. Viusasa provides attractive subscriptions with the lowest being Kshs 10 a day with the intent of attracting all kinds of customers.

While all this seems like Kenya is making strides, the digital age seems to be very cruel and unfortunately in my submission, I predict that some of these services will not succeed with the following reasons in mind.

Torrenting

This the world over is a menace pirating of copyrighted content is distributed over torrents. Popular torrents such as Piratebay are still an option for many users.  This include your local movies and series vendor who happens to sell to you content that is readily available on the internet.  This will likely kill platforms such as Showmax who are charging for content that is readily available. Who in their right mind would do that? A quick glance at the shows available on Showmax and an independent search on any search engine should tell you that this model doesn’t make sense and will not be there for long.

YouTube

YouTube enables the sharing of videos for free and is the home of popular Kenyan celebrities. Some of the most popular channels include Churchill Show, Henry Desagu, WaJesus Family, Njugush and Wakavinye and The Real House helps of Kawangware among others. These platforms provide entertainment free of charge. The content creators on this platform are motivated further to monetize their work and it is certainly paying off with some Kenyan Youtubers making up to Kshs 400,000 a month. This setup will kill the likes of Viusasa who still acts as a middleman for the content creators who get a percentage from the total number of views. YouTube directly pays content creators. A scroll on the Viusasa homepage and you will find content that has previously been uploaded on YouTube uploaded there. I still don’t understand how this will work because if you have watched something for free then why would you pay again to watch it?The digital age is very brutal and while things change rapidly, others don’t. Content remains King and while budding film producers are producing local relatable content, local video on demand platforms will remain unpopular if free alternatives continue to exist. There is need to assess the adoption rate of Video on demand services to test my hypotheses. Time will tell if any of my assertions ever come true.

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