In Kenya, there are some things that are almost obvious in business; like if a mobile operator claims to gun for Safaricom’s market share, you know its a tall order or when a start up develops a product modeled along Google offerings, you know it may not go very far.

So, when Smart TV launched their services, it was easy to predict that it would not take much of DSTv’s market share. The story of GTV collapse is still fresh in our memories 🙂


Yes, they were backed by Swedish investors but the ideas needed more political will than money and a good business plan.

Government interests in DSTv

The government through Kenya Broadcasting Corporation owns 40 percent of MultiChoice Kenya, the parent company of DSTv. There is so much rhetoric on encouraging competition blabla but when the shareholders meet, I am sure they discuss about the powers they have to counter competition. Who are the shareholders again?

Shift from DVB1 to DVB 2

Initially, digital TV services were supposed to be on DVB 1 standard, and that is what Smart TV launched with. Months later, the government changed to DVB2 standard, meaning everything based on DVB 1 was obsolete. The government had suggested that it will reimburse folks who bought DVB1 sets but am not sure how far that story has gone.

The issue of content

There was a time mainstream TV station complained that they didn’t want Smart TV to pick their content and I think there was a court case. The idea that you can sell digital TV content without local TV stations is a bit funny. That is why DSTv and Zuku Satellite have local channels.

Apart from the name, people buy content. DSTv may have its issues but it is anchored by its live sports content. The movies are a bit outdated and dodgy but sports and documentaries make me want to hang on to it.

Sports coverage is deeply rooted in the history of satellite TV and that is probably why Zuku will push DSTv more if it can get rights to some of the popular sports content.

A few weeks ago, Smart TV closed shop. There were employees who have had to look for other jobs, subscribers left with equipment they can’t use and investors who have had to declare loses.

Did you see that coming?