BY FRANK MAINA
Kenya TV went digital on Wednesday becoming Africa\’s second country to head this way. The plan overall is for the entire world to migrate from analogue TV by 2015.
Digital TV is considered more efficient in the use of broadcast resources than analogue TV. There is the potential to run more channels on each frequency when using digital broadcast. Simply put, each channel carrying one TV station can carry more than five. Digitising broadcasting is thus supposed to create more channels and get these used for other services and yes more TV stations.
The government to its credit has created a transition team, which will see the rollout carried out between Wednesday and 2012. Due to the initial cost of digitizing, the government will license special broadcasters who will focus on the handling of broadcast signals for other broadcasters; this way stations will then focus on developing programmes rather than managing masts and related infrastructure.
The first of these is a company owned by KBC which is currently handling all digital broadcast for all TV stations.
From Wednesday to 2012, all stations will be broadcasting both analogue and digital signals with the analogue signals being turned off at the end of the deadline. In the meantime consumers will be required to buy either digital receiver TVs or buy a converter box (to cost anything from Sh5,000, but knowing our relationship with china …may eventually cost less) so as to receive the digital signal.
While the transformation will be a slight headache for consumers it will come with new challenges. To begin with the barriers of entry to TV will be severely eroded. There will be frequencies available and all a broadcaster will need to be good at will be content creation and management.
With lower entry barriers will come TV audience fragmentation, and this makes advertising on TV more expensive as we reach decreasing audiences on each channel.
Today, building an audience of 60 percent of females in Kenya requires about five spots on two or three stations; this will change dramatically when the large audiences in each station are split between many stations thus requiring more TV stations on each schedule that we develop. Thus what was five spots on three stations will become 10 spots on five.
The economics of broadcasting often require new stations to further define their audiences; this often means segmentation of people into several homogenous characteristics. These way broadcasters are able to specialise in particular audiences. Thus expect that fragmentation may also breed specialty stations catering to specific audience needs.
Kiss TV and Classic TV have already commenced this process and the likelihood that new entrants will refine it remains high. Targeting specifics groups on TV may thus be made easier ( but possibly more expensive as we previously reached them alongside others on mass TV).
Additionally, digital TV will increasingly allow interactivity with the station and thus the opportunity for two way consumer communication with ads.
This is already happening albeit in a limited way in one of the newer stations. The way we develop advertising will thus evolve towards greater interactivity as the technology evolves towards fully IPTV. Thus in the long term expect TV ads to be more like web ads.
To read more on this rollout go to;