Wananchi Group’s home entertainment brand Zuku has launched an in-house Channels Playout Service which will enable Zuku to broadcast channels directly from Nairobi – for the first time ever – and consolidate all its channels under one roof. The playout for Zuku and ViaSat channels will be relayed from Gateway Business Park along Mombasa Road. Previously this was relayed from London, England and Dublin, Ireland. The cutting-edge facility will enable Zuku to have full control, expand branded channels content as well as make significant cost and bandwidth savings of up to Kshs 80.8 million (US$ 800,000).

“This is indeed a great achievement which will enable us to manage and control our content better as well as improve our turnaround times in a bid to offer seamless services and solutions to our customers,” Wananchi Group Director Eng. Patrick Obath said.

Zuku has completed the set-up of a fully functional S1 media state-of-the-art playout facility with the ability to manage 18 channels.

“It is currently running 12 channels namely Zuku Nollywood, Zuku Kids, Zuku Swahili, Zuku Entertainment, Zuku Zone, Zuku Life , Zuku Max, Zuku Action, Viasat Crime, Viasat History, Viasat Nature, and Viasat Explore,” he announced during the launch of the facility at Wananchi Group headquarters in Nairobi.

The in-house playout system has been running since October 5, 2015 after its contract with an international broadcast services company, WRN Playout expired. Zuku had partnered with WRN Broadcast in 2010 to manage its playout services for branded channels. The channels that were being broadcast from Europe are Zuku Life, Zuku Entertainment then known as Zuku Afrika, Zuku Max and Zuku Action. Zuku Family and Zuku Gold were dropped last year while Zuku movies comedy was dropped in 2013.

He said that in the build up to the switch, Zuku has been running its own play out services at Gateway Park from January 2013 for Zuku Kids, Zuku Zone, Zuku Swahili and Zuku Bunge which was dropped last year. He lauded the work done by the technical team and engineers of the firm towards the success of the project.

“This is indeed superb and marks a new chapter in the history of Wananchi Group together with everyone involved; from content acquisition, scheduling, playout, transmission as well as IT,” said Eng. Obath.

The firm is now playing out 12 channels from Nairobi. In the next few weeks, Zuku Sports will be moved in-house from Fox Sports Dublin, Ireland and Zuku Novella a-first-of-its-kind tele-novella channel will broadcast in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia.

Zuku is a home-grown East African brand established with the aim of making home entertainment and communication services accessible to a rapidly growing, choice-conscious middle class. It has over 150 channels on the Zuku Satellite platform which are developed to resonate with local audiences.