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Cost of Producing a Television Program in Kenya

By Kuria Kimani

The media is referred to as the fourth arm of government because of the level of impact it has on the people. The media shapes people’s thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and emotions. Television has evolved over the years from the days of analog televisions, multi-system televisions, to digital to the current high definition streaming available on all screens. It has become a means of passing information and entertainment. Moreover, it is a means of making an earning by producing programs that manage to catch the viewers’ fancy. Not only good, but great content is what sells these programs which when properly done and aired can earn a fortune for the script writers, producers, staff and actors. Globally leading production houses such as Netflix and HBO – Home Box Office, make a fortune from airing programs and servicing billions of users across the world. What does it take to produce, air and make a decent earning from this kind of work? This article looks into the cost of producing a TV program in Kenya.

What You Need to Start

It is prudent to first establish the goal of partaking in the production, and laying out a strategic plan on how to make this dream a reality. People often have the goal of applying their skills, talents and interests on screen, create job opportunities , and some do it to simply make an income. After settling on a long-term and sustainable goal, you then need to determine the genre of your program. The varied genres are enjoyed differently by different viewers and so a choice has to be made based on the ability to sustain a long-haul engagement. It could be a program on Crime, Animation, Thriller, Action, Comedy or a Soap Opera. Some people hire production firms to script their programs while some run the show themselves. This is another step to take into account before plunging into production; create a team of professionals. These include script writers, creative directors, actors and actresses, make up artists, video and camera directors and other support staff on set.

Program Production Checklist

The selling point is always the type of content that one is set to produce. Investment in content that may not receive much viewership is set to make very few sales and thus not make profits. Content focused on factual information, real and relatable information, trending topics, and original uniqueness make better viewership statistics. Kenyan viewers have been established to have a leaning towards soap operas evidenced in programs such as Selina and Maria. This programs use content that most people can relate with or empathize with. Keeping up to date with events is another factor that makes great content. An investment in great content creators will ensure that the program’s essence will not be lost. Kenyan hired content creators charge differently depending on the level of engagement in the program, and per person and range from Ksh 30,000- Ksh 200,000. One also needs to consider the provisions provided by the Kenya Films Classification Board to ensure that it is viable to be aired in TV stations. The figures vary depending on the length of the program and the level of investment in the work. Quality content is expensive. 

Also Read: Amount Of Money Are Paid Per Episode

The following is a tentative checklist that one needs to budget for when planning to produce a television program :

  1. Crew 
  2. Cast
  3. Location costs
  4. Equipment costs
  5. Props, make-up and costumes costs
  6. Catering
  7. Office Supplies
  8.  Licenses and Taxes

Totals : The leading production houses in Kenya have approximated it at Ksh 100,000-Ksh 2,000,000 (Different programs require different budgets) 

These are the primary costs to incur in program production and runs in the millions. Some programs will require about Ksh 200,000 to produce a single episode while some spend less when they receive prior support by television networks.

Post-Production

Great Content will always earn the favor of broadcasters due to increased viewership and with that comes more earnings. It is important for you to invest in IP protection rights and leverage it to make better earnings from the broadcasters. This is the way producers make money. They do so by selling and reselling programs to television channels and in greater terms, have air time in free-to-air stations. Most producers have said that syndication is the only means to make profits from their work. They receive money from the stations, recoup production costs and share the profits in balance with the production team. Effective management of the entire program from inception to execution and beyond is mandatory in making business sense from the program.