Three years ago, I had the opportunity of being listened to by the CEO of a leading media house in Kenya. I tried to impress on him the need to venture into Internet service provision, to bundle it with TV content. Well, not much came out of the meeting. But the country's largest mobile service operator is now diversifying into TV content provision.
I had been especially concerned by the possibility of mobile service providers venturing into streaming television content and leveraging on their wide subscriber bases.
My argument then was that to remain competitive, the media firm had to invest in Internet-based real time audience participation and feedback platforms, now even more relevant with the switch to digital TV.
Even then, it was clear that the audience was getting more assertive in choosing what to watch and when to view, whichever content.
In the discussion, I pointed out the usefulness of venturing, (like in more developed countries), into the realm of video on demand, pay per view and red button capabilities.
More certainly had to be done, than simply uploading content on Youtube, or a media company's websites and linking the same to social media networks, to widen access and open new revenue streams.
From broadcasting to narrowcasting
Indeed, it's increasingly becoming imperative for media houses to open up interactive channels that would enable listeners, viewers and readers to customize content to suit individual tastes or needs.
In other words, broadcasting to a mass audience has gradually been giving way to 'narrowcasting' to a segmented audience. So enabling the audience to choose what suits who, in what format and which time, has been a game changer.
Subsequently, a mobile telephony enterprise, already boasting millions of subscribers plus a successful money transfer platform, and already reaping profits from data services, will have a competitive advantage, when it seeks out the traditional TV audiences.
It is highly probable that soon, Kenyans might stop tuning into TV stations, to catch their favourite programmes at 'dictated times', because the same could be downloaded on demand, even if an amount is to be charged for accessing premium content.
And that is why the audience is now king and the content is queen!