Safaricom and DStv have partnered and launched a new service that will offer subscribers satellite television on their mobile handsets.
The partnership would allow over 800,000 subscribers on the mobile network to tune into televised content using their 3G enabled phones available on all 3G handsets wherever there is Safaricom 3G coverage.
The building of the partnership between the two firms started in 2007, when they launched a similar service that was only accessible via specialized handsets.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Nairobi, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, said the partnership presented a major strategic fit for Safaricon.
“While it enriches the menu of data content available to our customers, it is also at one with our strategy of improving the utility of a handset on our network, besides actively promoting data inclusivity in Kenya,” said Collymore.
He said the latest development would open up a new segment of consumers to the pay TV operator, freeing it from having to enter into contracts with subscribers and allowing consumers to escape the hassle of purchasing new and often costly equipment.
Francois Theron, CEO DStv Mobile said his company constantly looked for ways to enhance their product offering that would see the partnership with Safaricom on 3G streaming as a natural progression.
“DVB-H and 3G streaming each have an important role to play in the Kenyan market..In the last two years, new competitors; cable TV operator Zuku and pay TV channel Smart TV have challenged the South African firm’s dominance in the market, forcing it to innovate in a bid to stay ahead of its competition.
“The planned entry of Airtel – already Safaricom’s rival in the mobile voice and data space – into the mobile TV market in coming months, as well as renewed assault from Zuku, who plan to launch a satellite product in the next few weeks, all promise to intensify competition in the sector over the next few months.
“In 2007, the price war, combined with an increase in local content, emerged as the arsenal for market growth in the segment,” said Theron.
Speaking at the same function, Managing Director for Wanananchi, Richard Bell, said the satellite TV market remained greatly under saturated in Kenya mainly due to high cost of getting the service.
“We hope to offer low-priced products for the masses,” said Bell.
Globally, mobile TV has been tagged as a new growth area for both broadcasters and mobile firms.
By Brian Adero