Evolution of East African media consumers into prosumers

Posted on February 27, 2015 01:07 am

The entry of Internet protocol enabled video consumption devices such as smart TVs, smartphones and tablets is compelling pay TV middleware solution providers to deliver a unified multiscreen experience to viewers. In East African region where am well versed with developments and technologies being implemented, delivering on-demand video services on any screen anywhere presents its own set of challenges and technical impediments. Service providers are being forced to reinvent themselves to offer highly personalized content and value-added services in order to support the new self-selection consumption models that characterize the viewing habits of East Africa’s increasingly techno savvy viewers. In a study conducted last year covering cable, IPTV, direct to home and digital terrestrial TV application segments in the region found out that the region has enough market to accommodate all kind of technologies.

Change is inevitable and East African region cannot escape it, nor can they deny it.The way East Africans interact with each other is very different compared to the methodologies of their past.How many East Africans still use fixed line telephones or postal mailing services?I doubt that number can reach 1,000,000 in a region of more 140 million people.Not as many perhaps. People tend to use mobile phones or email more often nowadays due to efficiencies. Factors favoring East African market growth include the increase in the deployment of hybrid models such as cable and IPTV, satellite and IPTV as well as terrestrial and IPTV.Moreover, the need for interactive pay TV middleware on secondary devices to offer managed experiences on unmanaged devices is lending impetus to the markets across Africa. The rising subscriber churn and a high demand for over-the-top subscriptions have put tremendous pressure on existing pay TV operator business models in the region.Thus, highly interactive, flexible consumption models that leverage over the top as an opportunity instead of a threat are expected to come to the fore, fueling the need for advanced pay TV middleware solutions regionally.

Pay TV middleware vendors need to be extremely nimble and focus on providing agile solutions that allow service providers to compete with over the top services and need to direct attention towards open source middleware, as this has proven to be a successful strategy for middleware vendors and operators alike. At the moment, pay TV middleware market remains fragmented, with pay TV infrastructure vendors and end-to-end turnkey solution providers dominating market share. Heavy commoditization of set-top boxes characterizes the market and continues to exert downward price pressure on pure-play middleware vendors.In African market, moving towards pay TV ‘IPfication’ is unrivaled and digital transformation offers quite a few large-scale greenfield opportunities to pay TV middleware solution providers. Operator partnerships with advanced search and recommendation providers are gaining pace and will eventually change the landscape for pay TV middleware solution providers.East African market has already seen a flurry of new entrants and in order to leverage the huge potential of consumer video delivery services, experts are predicting mergers like that one involving Royal Media Group, Standard Media Group and Nation Media Group under Africa Digital Network and acquisitions.

As technologies evolve and digital sectors advance, new platforms are appearing to enhance or even change East African way of doing things. Their lives have changed and real change is also happening in the media industry. The current generation of media consumers are different.They do not just consume information but they have evolved into prosumers which is portmanteau of “producers” and “consumers”, which indicates that they retrieve information, but at the same time they can create and share information with others.This evolution from consumers into prosumers is the effect of advancing technologies and digital sectors which has given the East Africans the freedom to communicate and transform their societies.The rise of the prosumer movement can be seen on almost all platforms and are very active and are known to share information long before electronic and printed media covers the scoop which shows that in modern days, East Africans do not find information merely on traditional media platforms like Television.With the changing habit of consumers, traditional media in East Africa needs to face the challenge of not being up-to-date within the competitive and advancing world.

The heavy-use of digital and social media should gain more focus as an entry point for traditional media to tap into the modern day consumers.Now the challenge for brand owners is to have a relevance within this current era, without altering the associated personalities brand consumers have come to recognize. NTV Uganda is a prime example of an exemplary benchmark for a media brand which has kept its relevance with the new media world. In time where people are more familiar with digital devices like mobile phone to communicate, NTV Uganda under the stewardship of Aggie Konde as a reputable media brand has tried to incorporate news, the people and their mobile phone and created a citizen journalism initiative. This platform allows anyone to contribute pictures or videos of breaking news from their town or neighborhood and is more of a crowd sourcing news coverage which combines local reporters with reports from NTV staff where it is then all organized on a map and timeline.I can comfortably say that there’s NTV consistently expressing their brand value “fast and accurate news” on whatever platform they use. The success of NTV Uganda with its digital brand extensions shows that a great brand should not sporadically shift into more advanced platforms, more importantly it should be able to keep up with contemporary issues and technologies whilst keeping true to their brand heritage.

Disclaimer: The NTV Mobi interactive mobile television involving Somocon where I trade my skills and NTV Uganda had no influence in the above blog post.The app is accessible on https://play.google.com/store/apps/detailsid=com.somocon.ntv.mobile.videoplayer&hl=en

Contador Harrison