KBC: Why We Are Not Streaming World Cup Matches On YouTube [EXCLUSIVE]

The government-owned broadcaster had acquired the exclusive rights to air a total of 28 matches on TV while the 12 KBC affiliate radio stations will broadcast all the 64 games.

KBC: Why We Are Not Streaming World Cup Matches On YouTube [EXCLUSIVE]
KBC offices in Nairobi. /FILE

National broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) has broken its silence after a section of Kenyans criticised the media house for not airing the 2022 FIFA World Cup games on YouTube alongside its TV station.

The government-owned broadcaster had acquired the exclusive rights to air a total of 28 matches on TV while the 12 KBC affiliate radio stations will broadcast all the 64 games.

However, in a digital era where the internet has become more accessible to many Kenyans across the country, KBC faced criticism from some of the football fans who resorted to alternative live-streaming websites and pay TV platforms.

To be specific, stations such as Citizen TV, KTN News, and NTV among others usually have news bulletins broadcasted entirely on TV and digital media platforms.

A man takes a picture of a temporary statue of a World Cup trophy in Qatar. /FILE

Speaking exclusively to Viral Tea, KBC's chief of digital media, Charles Mungai opened up on the complex process behind the station acquiring the exclusive Free to Air (FTA) broadcast rights that allows the station to air the matches across its TV and Radio platforms.

According to him, the station obtained FTA terrestrial rights instead of digital media rights. FTA rights are television (TV) and radio services broadcast in unencrypted form, allowing any person with the appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without requiring a subscription, other ongoing costs, or a one-off fee (e.g., pay-per-view).

In the traditional sense, this is carried on terrestrial radio signals and received with an antenna. Digital media rights almost work in the same fashion but the difference is a person pays a subscription.

Mungai also noted that the aspect of public interest that has to be met by FIFA, especially with regards to the biggest tournament in world football, which had influenced the station to get exclusive rights as a majority of its audience in Kenya is on traditional TV.

"KBC got free-to-air terrestrial rights, not digital media rights. If you can afford to buy bundles to watch it on a smartphone on a computer, you can afford to pay for a subscription.

"There’s the aspect of public responsibility so FIFA can sell free-to-air rights to TV stations that are offering content free to the public. KBC is a public broadcaster so one can watch the matches for free, but for digital you pay," Mungai told Viral Tea.

When further probed by this writer, Mungai brought to the limelight the issue of budget and given its current financial woes, it was not able to afford rights for Free to Air and digital rights at once, similar to other media houses in the country.

With plans by Information, Communication & Technology, and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eliud Owalo to reform the station on the horizon, he notes that this would enable them to attract stellar talent to match up to the current giants in Kenyan media which constitute to revenue that would enable them to expand to new ground.

"Without the budget, you cannot buy the rights. The government facilitated the budget to get the rights, but if we attract the same kind of revenue as other media houses, then it would be considered a strategic investment then we have a digital offering (KBC’s version of Netflix)," he said, adding that there are plans by KBC to introduce a Netflix-like digital platform to Internet users.

Owalo had on Tuesday, November 1 paid a visit to KBC's offices along Harry Thuku Road in Nairobi for a meeting with the board and senior management to understand where KBC is at as the state broadcaster and to find ways and means to turn it around so that it can get back to being the number 1 media house in Kenya.

The CS expressed that KBC was a precious treasure, motivating his need to revamp the media house by offering it his support.

“We attach a lot of integral value to KBC. In the recent past, I have made proclamations on the need to revitalize KBC. This is a good starting point,” he said.

"We are ready to liaise with all the integral stakeholders so that we find ways and means of revitalising the operations of KBC. This is basically the first state agency that I am visiting since I took office."

The 2022 World Cup has been considered one of KBC's examples of attempting to get back to the top as it was over the years when it was prominent for its coverage of national and international events.

According to its statement on Wednesday, November 23 seen by Viral Tea, the station has availed the FIFA World Cup to Kenyans on the following platforms: Signet, DSTV, GoTV, Zuku, Pang and Azam TV on an FTA basis.

KBC reiterated that it is the only TV station in the country with exclusive 2022 World Cup Free to Air broadcast rights for both TV and Radio and that it will take legal action against any party infringing on the rights.

Award-winning KBC sports anchor, Caren Kibbett. /FACEBOOK