Netflix
Netflix

“I am bored, what movies can I watch on Netflix?” Leo, a Kenyan social media user posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

The question attracted an avalanche of responses, with some social media users suggesting love movies while others romance and action.

Leo, and many other social media users who frequently ask such questions online, get more than they need, with the replies pointing to great interest in online video streaming services in Kenya.

The services are currently in vogue in Kenya, especially among the youth, and they are eating into digital TV subscriptions. Online video streaming service providers in Kenya include Netflix, Showmax and Viusasa, a home-grown firm.

The youth are turning to the services because they are not only in vogue, but they are also global, give them an array of shows and more importantly, they can be conveniently watched on mobile phones.

According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, uptake of digital TV in Kenya is on the decline and this is because of the online video streaming services.

Subscription to digital TV declined by 7 percent in the period ending June to 5.46 million from 5.87 million in March, the latest data from CA shows, which is the first since Kenya migrated to digital TV from analog in 2015.

“The wane in subscriptions for digital TV is attributed to the increased uptake of streaming services especially among younger consumers, as more homes get connected devices,” said CA in the report released this month.

Subscription to digital TV is declining even as the number of free-to-air stations grows in Kenya to hit a record 86 boosted by switch from analog.

“Online video streaming services give you more than you need especially if you are a movie person,” said university student Simon Mutua, 23.

Initially, the service providers were only screening content from the West but they have now added African movies and other shows, drawing in more viewers.

“I am happy that I can now watch my favorite movies from West Africa online. I cannot wait for the Kenyan movies which are coming soon,” said Mutua, whose parents have connected to home internet.

Increased uptake of home internet in Kenya, according to analysts, has become the catalyst which is making citizens switch to online streaming platforms in droves.

Kenya’s internet subscriptions stood at 50 million as at the end of June, up from 47 million in March, according to CA. While the bulk of the subscriptions are on mobile, fixed internet subscriptions where home connections lie significantly contribute to the number.

“Convenience, low internet charges and changing lifestyles are among the things pushing Kenyans to video streaming services. Citizens can now buy up to 5GB for 1,000 shillings (9.8 U.S. dollars), stream football shows on phone and link them to their TV screens. Such a person would certainly not bother about pay TV or digital TV services,” said Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solutions.

Mwaso observed that video streaming services are the future of TV and movie watching across the globe, and Kenya would not be left behind. Enditem

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