Thursday, February 19, 2015

SHOCKER. M-Net shutting down Maisha Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv mere months after launching; what's going on with M-Net?

What on Earth is going on with M-Net, and is the sterling pay-TV brand starting to self-destruct and destroying its own image in Africa? That's what insiders are asking with the shocking news that M-Net is immediately shutting down its recently launched Maisha Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv in East Africa.

TV industry insiders are buzzing over M-Net's abrupt about-turn - launching Maisha Magic as a TV channel on DStv and then canning it - raising speculation about very bad executive management appointments, absent oversight and a lack of adequate - if any - channel testing, planning and feasibility studies.

"You expect this from other African free-to-air [broadcasters] but not M-Net. What on Earth is going on?" said a veteran African TV business insider on Thursday night over the shocking news that M-Net is ending Maisha Magic on DStv mere months after it launched the channel with great fanfare.

"You don't just launch a channel - especially not on MultiChoice and then yank it. It's like opening a hotel, paying for the construction and turn-key set-up and then closing it down without any profit".

M-Net is dumping Maisha Magic in East Africa as a TV channel, raising concerns over what is happening - or not happening - under the management of Michael Ndetei who was appointed as M-Net's first ever regional director for East Africa exactly a year ago in February 2014.

M-Net says "an in-depth assessement of each of the channel's viability was concluded, including a review of the rankings and popularity of the channels" and that "a decision was taken to close Maisha Magic and refocus on Maisha Magic Swahili".

M-Net is dumping and getting rid of Maisha Magic on DStv abruptly at the end of March - raising serious concerns of what, if any, "in-depth assessement M-Net did before it decided to launch Maisha Magic with great fanfare from 1 September 2014.

Six months later, Maisha Magic is a disastrous M-Net failure - an unprecedented flop in the history of M-Net, bigger than GO and The Soap Channel which M-Net supplied to DStv and which were both terminated.

"Unfortunately Maisha Magic has not performed and grown as per our expectations." says M-Net CEO for Sub-Sahara Africa, Patricia van Rooyen.

Patricia van Rooyen says M-Net decided to can Maisha Magic saying M-Net made "the carefully considered but difficult decision to cease operations of the channel".

It gives Maisha Magic the dubious and shocking distinction of holding the record of shortest-lived TV channel ever on MultiChoice's DStv, and the M-Net packaged TV channel for DStv which lasted the shortest period of time - just 6 months.

It raises serious questions over why M-Net decided to launch the failure of a TV venture in the first place, why adequate market research and channel creation steps were not taken and what market research and intelligence M-Net is using - if any - to come up with new TV channels for DStv subscribers across the continent. 

M-Net says its "grateful" to Michael Ndetei and some of the most talented and creative people in the Kenyan media industry" but the Maisha Magic closure is flashing red lights over what exactly M-Net is doing in East Africa and whether its lost its magic.

"M-Net remains firmly committed to the Kenyan market and will ensure that it continues to support film makers by showcasing their talent on other M-Net channels."

"The film and television industry in Kenya will continue to be supported by M-Net's investment in channels made in Africa for Africa, thus ensuring that we assist Kenya in playing a role in the growth and future of African television and film on the continent," says M-Net.

Yet the shocking real-life actions are speaking much, much louder than words.

In 2014 Michaerl Ndetei said "there's definitely great potential for a customised East Africa television brand". Well, it seems that Michael Ndetei spoke too soon - or at least too soon as far as M-Net is concerned and is either clearly out of touch or not up to the job.

Either in reality there isn't great potential in general in the market for what M-Net offered, or there isn't an appetite  for subscribers to specifically M-Net's East African product.

The abrupt dumping of Maisha Magic means that nothing will come of M-Net lofty ideals and now lofty 2014 announcement that Maisha Magic will be followed by many more Maisha Magic branded TV channels in East Africa in the future.

With M-Net dumping Maisha Magic on MultiChoice, is not clear whether it's completely capitulated and given up on the red-hot Swahili market in East Africa where rivals like Zuku started Zuku Swahili Movies as a new channel in 2014, and StarTimes run channels like Star Swahili and Bollywood Swahili.

How will M-Net subscribers trust M-Net again when it again in future says its launching yet another Swahili or other M-Net type brand in East Africa? People won't trust it to last. What they will do is laugh it off. 

Like Mello Yello, Vanilla Coke and Fresca. 

All of them remembered - but laughed at - as shocking brand extension failures of their main brands which never should have happened. Add Maisha Magic to that list.