During the NexTV CEO Africa conference 2017 held in May at the Hilton Resort- Mauritius, Elias Schulze, Kana TV Ethiopia Managing Director and Co-founder revealed that the company will launch its OTT platform.
Can you give us a broad overview of Kana TV activities in Ethiopia?
Kana television is the leading Free to Air general entertainment television channel in Ethiopia. We are on satellite serving the entire region but our main audience is in Ethiopia as we broadcast exclusively in Amharic. We produced and dubbed content. Kana TV is a joint venture between Moby group which is a media house and a group of Ethiopians based co-founders. We teamed up with Moby group who is the major stakeholder and owner of the channel. Kana TV was launched one year ago.
Private TV is a rather a new step in Ethiopia, with the public broadcaster being the dominant player. How did the idea of launching Kana TV in Ethiopia emerged?
It is true that private television network focused in Ethiopia is new. In the last five or ten years, there was one or two channels before us and they have helped to lead the way. If we looked at the market 3 or 4 years ago, we had a couple of station serving few millions of TV households and the market showed that there was a need for more channels. Moreover, we did talk to people and we realized that about half of the people that watch TV everyday were watching foreign content. That is why we launched Kana TV with dubbing content and also original content. We are also launching a studio and it will have 50% dubbed content and 50% content that we will produce in our own studio. We will move more toward original content with this large studio and eventually have more original content.
We have been talking about the digital process for a long time we know that in Ethiopia it is not yet completed. How do you think you will be able to keep up to date when the digital migration will be completed?
We have a very good relationship with the regulator and make sure that everything we do is in line with the requirement. The DTT transition is going to be an interesting opportunity for the country when it happens. For us, we must see if it makes sense to be broadcasted via DTT, as we are still considered as an international channel. DTH is still the dominant method to capture public attention and we intend to stay on DTH FTA for an extended period to reach every corner of Ethiopia and even beyond.
Kana TV is a FTA channel, what is the revenue model?
The revenue model for Kana TV is advertising and sponsorship which is purely private. We are betting on the growth of the private sector in Ethiopia which is very small. It is 15 times smaller than Kenya which is half the population of Ethiopia. For us, it is a challenge but an encouraging fact as it shows that the private sector is growing. Of course, we must compete and the best way to go forward is to build a brand. As the economy grows, we hope that it will help to stimulate the growth of the advertising market. Kana TV has other sources of revenue and we are launching an OTT platform as well as a digital stream. When people will switch to more digital, we will be ready.
By when do you think you will be able to launch this OTT platform?
We are in the process of beta-testing the service for Android, IOS and online and will launch the platform in three months. Ethiopia is investing into its digital backbone, 4G will be available, people are buying smartphones, so everybody is being connected. We need to be ready when the transition occurs. In the next three months, we hope people in Ethiopia will be able to watch their favourite shows on their smartphones.
Many conservatives are worrying about Kana TV’s content. What do you have to say to these people?
It is always a fascinating argument because it is not backed out by the fact that IPSOS ratings revealed that huge amount of people is watching foreign channels. We take about 30%-35% of the viewership shares and bring people back to Ethiopian content. Our production in local dramas have increased in quality because of competitive response. We are excited about it as it shows that the industry is growing.