Online streaming platform, YOTV Channels has grown to become one of the leading platforms for Ugandans to stream radio and television programs via mobile phones, tablets, or PCs anywhere at any time. The platform was launched in February 2020 and it has gradually grown a huge user base. Their partnership with telecommunication firm; MTN Uganda has contributed to the growth of their user base.
In a brief interview with YOTV Chief Executive Officer and devoted innovator, Mr. Aggrey Mugisha, he talks about the journey of YOTV Channels app, and their partnership with MTN Uganda.
How did you come about creating YOTV?
My partners; Mathias Nyombi & Yiga Mubarak, and I one day realized that the world is busy and gets even busier by the day. People do not have time to watch TV and others get home tired and do not have the strength to turn on the TV to watch their favorite programs. So we came we had to think of a solution that can be wrapped around a smartphone since today everyone carries a smartphone with them at all times. We realized in order to keep radio and TV relevant, we needed to move them to the phone, thus we thought of coming up with an app.
In 2016, we conceived the idea of, YOTV Channels app and only gave birth to it last year in February. It wasn’t easy at all and it was quite a long journey as well to perfect and bring it to market.
What is YOTV and how does it work?
YOTV is an internet protocol television (TV). It is a one-stop center for all Ugandan local television channels, and radios as well as international movies. We aggregated all Ugandan local TVs and radios in one application. With just one click, you can access these TVs and radios. The app does not online allow users to stream their favorite programs, but the app can allow them to record a live program and also has a catch-up feature that allows them to watch a program that aired on TV in the past.
So it is simple when it comes to using the app. When you have a valid subscription running, just open the app and navigate through TV or radio channels to watch or listen to your programs.
What is your association with MTN Uganda?
Cognizant of the economic situation in our country and its impact on the affordability of the internet, we realized that the cost of the internet would have a lot of bearing on the success of YOTV. If a product like was going to see the light of day, we needed subsidized data so when MTN looked at it, they were excited by the concept and came in as a data partner. They have a passion for content, they have a passion for seeing Uganda’s technology startups grow and I want to commend them on that. That has been the real difference, people streaming without worrying that their data is going to run out.
So how do you prevent the subscribers from breaking the bank to watch YOTV?
We have four subscription plans; UGX500 for an hour, UGX1000 daily, UGX2500, and UGX10,000 monthly —and these are on MTN. That is why the partnership with MTN was very critical for our sustainability, so we can make it affordable for our consumers.
How has the performance of the app been since its inauguration?
So we launched in February 2020 in partnership with MTN. Since then, we have surpassed the half a million mark user base. That is a big milestone and we are proud of it. It shows us how much Ugandans appreciate the service and it goes far to encourage us to do more for them and bring more to the platform.
How would you describe video streaming in the Ugandan market and its culture?
Uganda’s video streaming industry is nascent. We still have an issue with content production. It is expensive and our economy isn’t very capable of producing high-quality content. We have people that try, but we still have a challenge there. There is also a lot of uncommercialized content which is a big problem.
In addition, consumer culture is accustomed to Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood. Local content meaning Ugandan movies are the last to be chosen, but it is a journey we need to change which is what we are doing now. That is why together with MTN we brought Kibanda Xpress. We believe our collective voice will help local content raise to the top.
Enlighten to us what Kibanda Xpress is
Kibanda Xpress is the latest video-on-demand addition channel on YOTV housing Ugandan movies. MTN and YOTV are passionate about boosting the local film industry and that is why we created a dedicated channel for Ugandan local content to help the local film industry grow.
What are some of the challenges you have faced during this journey as a startup?
There is a mindset challenge where people are convinced that TV has to be on the wall and on a big screen. That is a big challenge that we have taken on patiently. There is a challenge of funding of course as a startup, but we will get there because we get better with each passing day.
Lastly, what is the future of YOTV?
We continue working and innovating to bring Ugandans more content and additional features to this platform. And in the future, we hope to increase our subscriber base even more.