Aggie Asiimwe Konde, Managing Director of NTV Uganda since 2013.
The last 9 years, have witnessed fundamental growth of the TV broadcasting industry. At the centre of this transformation, has been NTV-Uganda, a subsidiary of Nation Media Group that went on air in December 2006. In this interview, Agnes Asiimwe Konde, the NTV Uganda Managing Director, shares some insights on the industry’s developments, NTV’s phenomenal growth, as well as its plans for the future.
This December NTV Uganda will turn 9 years and as one of the key players in this sector, what is your take on the different developments in the industry?
The last 9 years have been game-changing for both us as NTV but also for the entire industry as well. Overall, there has been a general increase in access to TV as a medium of communication, which by all standards is a good indicator of economic development.
According to independent research by Ipsos 28% of Uganda’s 7.35 million households have access to TV. Assuming that each household has one TV set and excluding those in public places, we can conservatively say, there are 2.053 million TVs.
This increased access has been occasioned by increased household incomes, increased rural electrification coupled with increased investments by industry players such as ourselves into increasing coverage- to reach more than 85% of the country and effectively becoming the largest TV network in the country.
General economic growth has also attracted new players to the industry who have obviously contributed to especially unlocking new audience-an effort that is being supported by increased focus on local content.
In the later part of 2015, we also saw the introduction of digital migration, which when fully implemented will result into better viewing experiences as well as faster national coverage.
How has the coming of new players affected your business- especially that you are the market leaders and everyone is focusing on ‘robbing’ from you? Do you think there is enough market for all the many players who are coming up?
Naturally, when there are new players in the same territory, there will be competition but you must also realise that the market has been expanding- more people are buying more TVs and we have been making investments into penetrating new markets and opening up new audiences across the country- on the TV set, on mobile devices and online.
Overall, we see especially increased fragmentation of the TV audiences. For example, whereas 5 years ago, you only needed 2 TVs to reach 70% of any audience, because of increased stations, you now need up to 4 TV stations to reach the same audience size.
Specifically for NTV, we are still market leaders and we continue to invest in staying at the top- by increasing both coverage but also through creating and delivering locally relevant, informative and entertaining content.
Recent broadcast audience research by Ipsos & GeoPoll, both of them reputable research agencies have affirmed our leadership across the key industry parameters i.e. audience quality, share of viewership and reach. Audience quality looks at parameters like age, social-economic class and gender while share of viewership looks at the percentage of time a specific audience spends watching a particular TV station. Reach on the other hand looks at the number of people reached by a media house in a specific time period- usually 7 days. More importantly while reach is a quantitative parameter, audience and share of viewership are qualitative parameters.
The Ipsos, Day-After Recall (DAR) survey, done in August 2015 shows we had the highest national reach of 52%. Across the various regions, we had a reach of 45%, 69%, 47 and 56% in the central, north, eastern and Western Uganda respectively. In all the regions, save for the Central we are the preferred choice.
It is important to note that not only do we reach higher numbers, but we also deliver a critical mass of the economically active and income earning audiences i.e. 64% of the AB, 54% of C1 and 45% of C2 social economic classes. No other TV station delivers this quality of audience. We are also the most preferred youth station- watched by 57% of the 20-34 age group and 47% of the 45+ age category.
Because of our quality programming, our audiences spend more time watching us which is why we have an overall national share of viewership of 22%. Regionally, we have a 16% share (central), 39% (northern), 23% (Eastern) and 19% (western).
But it is said that your audiences have been falling and you are beginning to lose to competition. How true is this?
There is a common saying that: “numbers don’t lie, people do”- there is a whole lot of research out there to prove our leadership.
For example, the GeoPoll study does not only affirm our market leadership, but also shows that we have been gaining in share of eyeballs from 27% in January 2015 to 32%. To the contrary our closest competitor a Luganda TV, who opened the year at a share of 26% is now at 22%. All our other peers are at less than 15%.
The GeoPoll report also confirms we have the highest audience quality; delivering a rich mix of youthful and mature audiences that are also economically active- a much sought after characteristic by every advertiser.
It is said that the growth of internet access, is fast replacing traditional media such as television and will perhaps eat into both your viewership and share of advertising revenue.
While it is true that both the number of internet subscribers and users is growing at an average of 21% and 25% annually- in 2015 Q1, there were 5,694,930 and 11,924,927 subscribers and users respectively – translating into a penetration of 34.2percent, compared to an estimated reach of 9.8 million by TV as a platform, I do believe the growth of internet is complementary rather than detrimental to the growth of TV.
We believe and have made significant investments into leveraging the internet to enhance the user-experience but also to widen access in and outside Uganda. For example, NTV Mobi our award winning and revolutionary interactive mobile TV application has had nearly 100,000 downloads while our strong- social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter and Facebook) have a combined following of nearly 660,000 fans- making us the most powerful media house on social media in Uganda. We have embraced the internet as another route-to-market tool, to help us feed the seemingly insatiable news and information needs among a substantial segment of society whose demand for news on-the-go is a growing reality.
Ugandans are already spoilt for choice- there is lots more radio stations to choose from, more newspapers and now online platforms- even if all the above play a complementary role- aren’t we going to see TV- since it is the one with the highest cost of entry, lose out especially on the share of advertising revenue?
Whereas it is true that TV has the highest cost of entry in terms of Tv sets, it also has a high cost of entry at the investment level- thus there are relatively fewer TVs than for example radio stations which are over 250; which presents an even heavier fragmentation problem. The other advantage of TV as a medium is that it is consumed communally unlike online radio and internet which is growingly becoming more individualised. For example you have only 1.8m TV sets but a reach of over 8 million people, yet you have 11.9 million internet users out of 5.7 million internet subscriptions. TV as a platform has now established itself as the No.3 biggest platform in terms of reach- after radio and internet- but because it is not as over-fragmented, still presents a solid platform for reaching and communicating audiences.
Industry leadership demands much more than just having higher audience ratings- what initiatives, are you as a leader engaged in to ensure larger benefits for society? Does NTV have a larger cause rather than just being a business leader?
Just like our slogan- Turning on your world- we know that mass media plays a vital role in opening up a world of possibilities, driving innovation, promoting learning and improving quality of life leading to sustainable human development i.e. economic, ecological, political and cultural sustainability.
This is what informs and drives our content development agenda as well as our editorial policy. We are keen on working with and wish to invite other like-minded partners such as government, local and international development partners/agencies e.t.c. on a collaborative basis to deliver a series of educative and life-enhancing content that will contribute to delivering sustained development to our people.