While its business as usual for corporations offering pay TV channels in Kenya, most Kenyan’s are grappling with the fact they’ll need to pay for at least one of the bouquets to watch channels that have ever been free and are still available on the traditional analog platform. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably witnessed someone you know come to this harsh reality too late after purchasing a pay TV set top box with the promise of experiencing a crystal clear signal, if you love watching television shows, it’s the most logical thing you’d do to get those shows with absolute clarity. Having said that, just for clarity purposes, please note that I am referring to ‘pay TV boxes’, best examples being GOtv and StarTimes. The opposite of these boxes include the likes of Microville set top boxes which do not require any subscription to get free-to-air channels.
Let me point out why someone would prefer pay TV to just free-to-air boxes in the first place, those who are conscious about their expenditures may quickly conclude otherwise but wait until you’ve got all the facts right. To start with, set top boxes for pay TV providers in Kenya are relatively cheaper than free-to-air; it’s a tactic providers use with the promise of recouping their costs through monthly subscriptions. StarTimes decoders cost around Ksh2000 while those of Gotv retail at less than Ksh4000, on the other hand, Microville decoders are currently costing about Ksh6000 in local supermarkets. I am not an economist but anyone can get the picture here; the initial cost of free-to-air set top boxes is relatively pricier but cheaper in the long run, pay TV decoders are cheap initially but monthly subscription makes them more expensive in the long run.
Secondly, pay TV providers are big companies with a business mind at their fingertips, they’ve got a customer care department that’s ready to attend to you in case you’re not able to watch those TV shows you adore. Personally, I like the idea of holding someone responsible for my viewing experience because – let’s just say I am into television. It’ll make no sense to hold free-to-air providers accountable in the same scenario – their services are free, so you’ll be forced to accommodate glitches here and there, imagine if you’re a sports fan and right in the middle of the game a glitch occurs.
The obvious reason to subscribe to a pay TV provider is premium channels, just like they’re in business and would do everything to make you happy, premium channels often give premium content that you’d not get anywhere else. Imagine these pay TV providers only restricts subscription to premium channels while free-to-air can be watched without any payment being made; delays in subscriptions will become rampant, joy riders will access customer care services without adding value to the company and lastly, free-to-air decoders will have no place on the counters.