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World Cup boosts NTV ratings despite mass exits

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When Russia and Saudi Arabia kicked off the World Cup on Thursday June 14, around one-third of Kenyans watching TV at that time were glued to NTV giving the broadcaster a ratings spike of 450% from its usual viewership statistics.

According to numbers from GeoPoll, Kenyan TV viewers joined the around 7.9 million in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda who also tuned in to watch Russia thrash Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the World Cup’s opening game. Around 5.4 million viewers from the same countries watched the tournament’s one hour opening ceremony. This trend was common across Africa — more people were interested in the opening game than with the opening ceremony.

NTV’s 30% audience share for the World Cup opener gave the broadcaster the highest viewership in Kenya. This percentage spike means NTV gained new viewers as compared to their typical audience. This also seemed to cannibalise NTV’s partnering broadcaster for the games, Kwese Free Sports whose usual 13% audience share dropped during the game.

All this of course came before NTV were sounded out by Kenyans on Twitter for their limited World Cup rights following their failure to show certain crucial games involving World Cup favourites. Irate viewers decried the broadcaster’s failure to show the entertaining 3-3 draw between Portugal and Spain, as well as Brazil’s 1-1 tie with Switzerland during the long weekend.

Despite this — and with observers saying the broadcaster should have listed the games it is licensed to watch — NTV is expected to maintain a high viewership status as it airs 32 World Cup games. This is due to the fact that it remains the only free to air TV service offering the World Cup games in Kenya having snatched the rights from state broadcaster KBC. 

Multichoice owned Supersport, and Startimes have the rights to air all 64 games of the World Cup, but are offering their services on a pay TV model.


The question abounding however is whether NTV will retain the same viewership after the World Cup wraps up on July 15. Its usual audience share of 11% ranks fourth in Kenya below Citizen TV, KTN Home and KTN News respectively. NTV has also been hit by a raft of exits since February, with many of its reporters and editors moving to rival station Citizen TV. The latest to leave is Swahili anchor and reporter Nimrod Taabu.

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Mike Njoroge
Mike Njorogehttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Mike Njoroge is the founder of Daystar Oracle and FootballTriangle. He is passionate about news, religion and sports. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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