startimes logoChinese-owned satellite TV provider StarTimes Media has waived the cost of acquiring a Pay TV decoder in a move aimed at growing its presence in Kenya’s growing digital TV and set-top box market. StarTimes has a 38% share of Kenya’s Pay TV market, slightly ahead of Multichoice, whose GoTV and DStv have a combined market share of37%

New users will get a free full High Definition (HD) satellite decoder on subscribing to a bouquet of their choice for Ksh 2,499. Existing users will get an option to enjoy one month Super Bouquet, two and a half months Smart Bouquet or five months Nova bouquet with access to over 100, 70 and 35 local and international channels respectively.

“The move is aimed at making it increasingly affordable for Kenyans to access digital TV through StarTimes’ satellite television service which now covers 100% of the country”, said Mark Lisboa, the company’s vice president for Marketing.

This move follows changes in April where Startimes introduced StarTimes Satellite TV, a digital broadcasting service, with paid and free-to-air bouquets offering access to local channels for free. This was followed by deep discounts for the HD decoder and initial subscription with prices falling from Kshs. 6,499 to Kshs. 4,499 for users wishing to install the services.

To install the full kit, a customer needs to acquire a dish, the low-noise block downconverter receiving device, 20 meters of cable and accessories. The customer then pays the Kshs. 2,499 for initial subscription fees and is connected.  Those with satellite dishes from other service providers can have their dishes repositioned and connected to a StarTimes HD Decoder, which will give them access to the direct to home service.

“We have waived the previous satellite decoder cost of Ksh 999 to make it easier for Kenyans to enjoy our satellite television service which currently covers the whole country making it ideal for both urban and rural households to access our digital television service,” Mr. Lisboa added.

StarTimes launched StarSat, a low-cost set-top box and satellite dish combo in September 2014. StarSat runs on both AC and DC power, meaning that it can either be connected to mains electricity or a battery without the need for separate inverters. Users in places without access to the electricity grid can therefore be able to watch satellite TV from any location.

StarTimes hopes to attract new users with the discounts, as the Kenyan market for set-top boxes is far from saturation with 32% of households reported as having one. Existing StarTimes satellite subscribers will enjoy an extra week of access for every month subscribed to the Super bouquet while for every month subscribed to the Smart bouquet, customers will enjoy an equivalent one month on the Sports plus bouquet.

Eric Mugendi Author

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