Study claims number of Kenyans reading newspapers same as seven years ago


Mobile phones are biggest disruptor at the moment, and provides the greatest opportunity as radio continues to dominate with an increase in the numbers of niche and community stations, a new report says, raising concerns on whether print media, which has slowly been transitioning to the digital space, will keep pace.

Conducted between April and May this year with a national sample of 10,000 across all the 47 counties, and published in June, the “Kenya Media Establishment Survey 2022” further notes that the mobile device has been the major disruptor in the media landscape with an increase in ownership from 79% to 95% and growth of smartphone from 19% to 51%.

The study also indicates that ownership of ordinary/ basic phone remains at 50% and listening has not increased significantly (from 76% to 79%). Also unchanged is the growing influence of social media and the fluid nature of social media engagement.  Growth in readership has remained stagnant at 8% per week. TV set ownership has increased from 32% to 53% while digital TV adaptation has pushed Pay STB ownership from 10% to 28%. 

On the economy, the study shows financial services are deepening with the mobile phones dominating. About 71% of Kenyans are using non-banking services with 38% saving through mobile money, mobile banking (30%), chama/ table banking (17%), SACCOS (6%), Micro-finance (4%). About 17% of Kenyans have access to financial loans out of which 7% access credit facilities through mobile phones, 4% from family and friends while 3% use chama/ table banking.

Speaking at the launch in Nairobi, Ipsos in Kenya managing director Chris Githaiga said that Kenya has witnessed accelerated growth and diversity in media touch points since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are interesting findings from the data e.g. the growth in digital, which is not surprising, the content that is resonating with audiences, saving habits by Kenyan etc.

“We found out that the internet use has more than tripled – from 13% to 46% mainly driven by social media. We also discovered that social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google are debasing more quickly as newer applications like Betting, TikTok, Telegram and Opera become more attractive to the youth. The print media on the other hand has been slowly transitioning to the digital space,” said Githaiga, adding that the entire landscape of the media has shifted, and “there are new apps that are coming up every other day.”

The last media establishment study in Kenya was conducted in 2015 at the advent of broadcasting in Kenya moving from analogue to digital transmission.  

“The more people acknowledge the changing consumer needs and habits the more they are going to engage with the multi media touch points because with smartphones you are on radio, you are on print, you are on television, you are on intenet, and you are able to have a cross media kind of experience and that’s where it is heading…. I don’t think it is even going to stop in the next two years. New smartphones will come up, new technologies will come up, and that is why we are talking about adaptability. That is the space we are playing in,” said Githaiga.

He also pointed out that 12% of Kenyans are enrolled on the National Hospital Insurance Fund and 0.5 on other medical schemes. 

“Would insurance and pension managers, who normally use check-off system seek to leverage on the emerging mobile phone technology where money seems to be moving?” he posed.

Advertising spends on the hand continued to grow since 2015 with 2021 data estimated at Sh7 billion a month as many organizations seek to maximize return on their marketing budgets.

“Knowing your audience, understanding the issues they face, and being aware of what they think about society – and your media organization in particular – are important factors for fine-tuning what you offer in order to better inform the public debate,” said the Ipsos in Kenya boss.

He added that the survey will help the media and organizations to produce content that is more focused on audience need and generate new ideas for producing audience-related programmes and material. 

“It also offers sales and marketing teams the information they need to try to monetize the content we produce and highlight new business development opportunities which can help ensure you are more accessible to more people,” he said.

He added that audience measurement will continue to grow in importance to address the need for a robust and credible media data for organizations, adding the social marketing research firm will continue to use technology that is at the heart of consumers’ lives.

“Passive audience measurement is the gold standard and markets like Kenya need to invest in relevant technology to ensure fair play and accessibility to granular and accurate data,” said Githaiga.  

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