Local content in Kenya is growing; be it music, film, literature, or any of the other art and cultural works. In 2013 the entertainment industry generated a revenue of Shs 144 billion, and this is expected to surpass Shs 260 billion by 2018 according to a 2014 forecast by PwC as reported by Capital FM.
Given the history of entertainment in Kenya, such figures might look promising, but when compared to other markets such as Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, etc, Kenya still has a long way to go. The major reason Kenya’s entertainment industry is not performing as Tanzanian’s or even Nigerian’s is because Kenyans are yet to completely and unreservedly show total love for local content, especially local films.
Although it might be said that the Kenya’s music industry has finally managed to win over Kenyans, the amount of love Kenyans show local artists doesn’t match the love Tanzanians show their own artists. Let’s run some quick statistics to drive this point home. There are twice as many Kenyans as there are Tanzanians online (over 20 million Kenyans vs slightly over 9 million Tanzanians have access to the Internet), yet, the big Tanzanian names like Diamond Platnumz can receive over 3 million views on YouTube videos in a matter of weeks and the Kenyan counterpart like Sauti Saul can hardly achieve 2 million views on YouTube videos uploaded over a year ago.
The controversial and hit song Nishike by Sauti Saul that was uploaded about 11 months ago had received slightly over 1.19 million views by the time of writing this article, yet Ntampata Wapi hit by Diamond that was uploaded slightly over five months ago has already surpassed 3.4 million views.
I debated these stats with a friend, arguing that most probably Tanzanian musicians receive international views compared to Kenyan musicians who only receive local views. The friend was quick to point to me that even unknown artists singing traditional songs in Tanzania can receive close to half a million views in months yet our own renowned artists like Major, Madtraxx and others can hardly receive a quarter million views after several months on their hit songs like dabotap and nyongwa. My friend was kind enough to show me how Ugandans were showing much love to their own almost at the same rate as Tanzanians.
And by the way, it is not that Kenyans shun YouTube. Of the top websites in Kenya, YouTube.com takes the fourth place after Google.com, Facebook.com, and Yahoo.com in that order in Alexa ranking. So what content do Kenyans watch on YouTube? Obviously not local content.
Kenyan film industry is receiving much worse, even though it can be said to be an older industry than the modern genre of non-traditional local music industry. Okay, there is a bit of love to some local content especially those aired on local TV Stations like Citizen, KTN and NTV, but that’s just it.
Related article: Ban the damn Mexican soaps and the boring Naija movies
If you ask any Kenyan to share with you why he/she doesn’t consume locally produced films, the obvious answer will be lack of quality content – and by quality they mean Hollywood high budget type of films. These very people don’t realize that the high end quality films are produced on budgets that can run up to $400 million dollars (Shs 36 billion). An intriguing series like 24, for instance, was produced at an average budget of 4 million dollars per episode, which means an entire season cost the producers $96 million.
In Kenya though, most of those who try to produce local content are doing so out of their pocket with budget as less as Shs 5,000. I have been privileged to talk in depth with at least two of them, both of whom are determined to change the film industry in Kenya, some day, but the market is not showing them any love.
So, how can we change the consumption preference of Kenyans so that they can appreciate more local content? See page two.
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