Kenya TV stations have been airing their content on YouTube, live, for an extended period now. This has been beneficial to a lot of people, especially groups with access to unlimited internet. It is a simple solution that does not require a lot of components: you just need a smart TV or a dumb one with a streaming box like those that support platforms such as Android TV, Roku, Fire OS or Apple TV, to mention a few, to get access to such content without the need of an antenna that adds an annoying layer of friction when setting up your home entertainment system.
I have been using the same setup (smart TV with an Android TV Box (Xiaomi Mi Box 3)) for a while now because I have never been a fan of local TV – but was satisfied with my arrangement because I could easily catch up with news or some explosive feature stories presented by some of our most talented journalists. This, however, has not been the case for the last couple of days or weeks because you can no longer access local TV live stream on YouTube, save for KTN News, and people have already noticed.
This inconsistency is unwanted.
How do I catch up with Kenyan News when am out of town?
— AFRICAN (@Afrikan_No1) October 19, 2019
Citizen TV cancelled its livestream on Youtube to drive customers to viusasa. But on ViuSasa you have to pay…
But the Channel is 'Free To Air'
This country has mental problems.
— Electricbuda® (@etascope) October 30, 2019
Before the stations dropped the axe, we were pleasantly surprised when they upped the quality of their streams to 1080p. It made their consumption a better experience considering other channels are locked to pretty mediocre resolutions that sometimes go lower than 480p; and with the ever-increasing TV screen sizes, consuming anything that is not HD is an insult to a market that has the capacity to air high-quality content, bearing in mind the TV digital migration exercise promised to do just that.
We are not sure why TV stations decided to quit YouTube, but we can make educated guesses at this point. To begin with, local TV stations air a lot of copyrighted content, which, as the industry goes, is a complex scenario based on where and how it should be presented to viewers. For instance, some shows are only accessible via paid platforms, meaning content owners would lose revenue if people watched them via YouTube, for free. We have tried to engage the affected stations as to why they pulled their live streams from the Google-owned video-sharing platform, but they have not addressed our questions.
Would imagine there is quite a bit on copyrighted content that would mean they can't post certain shows. As for Citizen I understand they are push their own Viusasa.
— Gicheru ❁ (@martingicheru) October 28, 2019
Secondly, Citizen TV owns Viusasa. Viusasa is quite popular and has been fronted as a platform that supports local content, including shows that are done in vernacular languages. It is likely Citizen TV wants people to get access to streams from the app, which you have to pay for – although daily charges are not substantial. Some may look at it as a move to push their revenues but take this with a grain of salt because Citizen TV has not explicitly told us so (they cannot, for obvious reasons), so we are only projecting here.
Of course, you can watch good ol’ TV via a digital box or any other channels besides relying on the now unavailable streams on YouTube.
If you really must use the internet, then you can get access to content via the stations’ respective websites, although the quality is not the best.
It is a setback that we hope will be resolved soon because we had just started getting accustomed to 1080p content for local TV.