Television has grown in Africa over the last twenty years with the freeing of the airwaves to private entrants and the advertising industry has honed its craft to serve the advertisers better.

Digital migration came and most channels ignored it as a fairy tale which wont happen but what they didn’t know was their ignorance would spell doom and gloom for their business, the viewer embraced technology to seek alternative entertainment and sources of information.

Television is here to stay but lack of investment and only seen a vehicle for political gain has curtailed its growth to be a major employer in its community. An established fully functioning television channel is an indirect employer of 1000 households through the outsourced content.

Uganda has a robust small television industry, with good investment in production studios, entertaining content and marketing strategies that keep them profitable. Ethiopia has a unique 100% local content model and TV owners pay an annual subscription to the state agency which provides a huge pool of funds for the film industry, which the television industry is yet to benefit from fully but now with new leadership they are optimistic. Tanzania has a well developed television industry with above 80% local content, entertaining local content which translates to viewership and dollars from the advertiser.

Advertisers follow the audience NOT boardroom decisions. Audience is KING always and it wont change. A clear and precise knowledge of the target audience and delivering great intelligent entertaining content at a time when they are most likely watching is why the audience will watch you, the owner of the company cant decide about the direction of the channel but must follow where the audience trail is.

Kenya television industry gives an illusion of success but with the high rate of digital TV channels closing down and the major TV channels downsizing staff every year its a sad tale of blunders and missteps by the management boards as follows

  1. Citizen TV has run out of ideas – banking on same old news, ancient programs to bring back the glory and strengthen the bank balance. New ideas are not welcome at this channel.
  2. KTN – Recently restructured company for success but are clueless on how to rebuild their brand, lack of experienced leadership in content creating and acquisition, low television management experience in the boardroom is evident
  3. NTV – Clueless as usual. The internal meetings are longer, the ideas good on paper, but no one to implement, A highly paid clueless team of buzzword ninjas. CEO wasting budget monthly to the annoyance of the board, the viewers are migrating daily, content leadership is none existent.
  4. K24 – Rumours that new owner with deep pockets took over, but will quickly learn that viewers don’t care about ownership but being entertained, Its currently a watered down rural copycat version of KTN and NTV. The shows are expensive looking but so boring, News time is a competition of accents and tight skirts. This bubble is about to burst again.
  5. KBC National Broadcaster – Is still on air. Word is there is a deadlock on who to hire as the new MD for the last three years. A seasoned Television executive or an old journalist.
  6. The fastest growing TV channel which has the attention of the industry is EBRU TV, Its content is clean for family viewing, The shows are highly innovative, someone is actually thinking and implementing, The choice and placement of content is appealing to the audience, If only they can maintain the current schedule for one year they will dislodge two big budget no ideas no implementation channels at the top.

Television is a unique business which requires the honing of the craft. Deep understanding of the viewer, how the content will affect them and how to present it on air. Successful TV channels in Africa utilize experienced talented people to strategise and implement these basic ingredients of creating a winning TV channel.