The Outlook for East African Television industry

Posted on August 20, 2014 12:02 am

East African Television companies are at the forefront in Africa in terms of digital content consumption with exception of Nigeria and South Africa. Consider this; 50% of East African Internet users stream or download videos each month. YouTube accounts for 47% of all online videos viewed in the region, out of an audience of 11.4 million. Social networking, at 39.4%, holds the largest share of online minutes for East Africans, followed by 20.5% for entertainment. There is no doubt that greater content consumption through the availability of various social media and digital platforms provide opportunities for more content producers to come on board, while enabling existing content creators to diversify their ideas and channels. With more players crowding the space, how do East African television industry big boys differentiate their content and stand out from the rest? Great content is what can differentiate each player from the other young brilliant aspiring producers. Whether you are a Television station trying to make your presence felt online, or just an upcoming content provider trying to break into the industry, focusing on content will give you that first push to success.

The most compelling stories come from the heart. Producing content just to get it viral is not enough.Think of Tanzania’s most popular television show Ze Comedy and how its has captivated the television industry in that country like no other.Me think only the football duels between Yanga and Simba gets more audience than that comedy show and the foundation of capturing the hearts of Tanzanian audience by the comedian group has been to produce something that they are passionate about. Most Television producers in East Africa create projects based on their passion.When the content is prepared, it is time to craft it to suit your targeted audience. For example, Deception program aired exclusively on NTV Uganda seems to have catered for the needs of audience and what they identify with. For others, the toughest challenge usually comes when audience is very much younger. Kenya’s Citizen Television long running Tahidi High shows has built emotional connection as a powerful way to engage with teenage and youthful audience in Kenya. Television channels need to associate with carefully crafted message with emotional charged languages that reinforces the importance of their content.

The task for the laggards in the industry is to make their audience care about the message as much as they do. Storytelling is all about laughter, emotion, excitement, and action that all brings the best out of the target audience’s emotion.The latest research shows that the average human attention span in the first half of 2014 is just seven seconds. Hence, East Africa television industry should do their best to be concise and communicate their ideas effectively. Some of the most successful local programs series started from very simple ideas that our animators are able to develop into exciting story lines. Take for example in Kenya, the hilarious political satire XYZ, a story where simple ideas backed by creative mind has worked wonders. East Africans are flooded by information from the moment they wake up till the time they go back to bed. Time for Television stations to be themselves and give their content serious touch. My advise to the Television industry in the region is that it pays to be authentic and this will create viewer loyalty and there will incredibly huge audience. Eventually, what every channel wants is a continued sustainable traffic.

Contador Harrison