Uganda’s film industry under their umbrella body, Pearlwood has renewed optimistim in the profitability of the industry following their partnership with MTN Uganda which will cut the former’s marketing costs by 60 percent.
Recently, MTN Uganda in partnership with Albayan Media Limited, the platform provider through the YOTV mobile app and the Association of Core Film Producers Uganda Limited trading as Pearlwood launched Kibanda Xpress, a channel housing local Ugandan movies and films. The partnership is expected to boost consumption of local content and in turn revenues of film makers since Kibanda Xpress through Yo Tv has vast reach in different parts of the country.
Marketing and distribution challenge
Seasoned film producer and speaker on the Pearlwood board of directors, Mzee Bwanika Julius said whereas there was demand for the local films, film makers were not realizing income from their creative works.
“The film industry had a problem, we make the content, customers watch the content and even though they paid money to watch the content, it would not reach the makers. Customers were getting frustrated, they support you but they do not see you grow,” Bwanika explained.
The divide, he says was leading to disheartening and frustration of the film makers who invest a lot and barely earn from their investment. So with this partnership with MTN Uganda, the film industry will not suffer with huge investment costs as the telco shoulders the marketing costs which comprise 60 percent of film production.
“MTN is promoting local content. It is one thing to make a film and it is another to promote it. When MTN promotes a film, it is a big budget meaning many people will know about it. Usually for a film budget, production can cost about 40 percent and find that marketing accommodates the 60 percent so MTN is actually taking up the burden of the 60 percent,” he noted.
The movie makers, producers and video jockeys approached MTN in 2019 following a repeated challenge of lack of a home for Ugandan local movies and streamlined distribution network. According to Mzee Bwanika, the telco welcomed them who at the time had nothing but a dream to offer —and in 2020, the idea Kibanda Xpress was born.
“We are glad that MTN Uganda did not look at our status quo because we were nothing —but they looked at our dream. We wanted company that could see the big dream and that was MTN,” explained Mzee Bwanika.
Future of local film industry
Mzee Bwanika believes that owing to the MTN Uganda partnership culminating into Kibanda Xpress on YOTv, the public within 6 months or a year will realize the great impact of MTN to Uganda’s local film industry. Adding that the film industry has committed to produce adequate and quality work for the audience to spur the growth of the industry.
In conclusion, Mzee Bwanika believes that now that the local film industry has its own identity and local distribution network, it is destined for soaring heights in the future.
How Kibanda Xpress works
Kibanda Xpress is a VOD channel available on YOTV Channels, a mobile app that allows one to stream local and international Radio and TV channels in real time via a smartphone. Kibanda Xpress features over 150 Ugandan movies, streams premiers of new movies as well other local entertainment content providing customers with entertainment conveniently and affordably.
To watch a movie on Kibanda Express, you need to have the YOTV Channels app installed on your phone. Then login and select VOD then browse through to select a movie of your choice. Payment to watch the movie is done through MTN mobile money. MTN offers a promotional subscription where users pay UGX1,000 to watch a movie and the subscription is valid for 24 hours.