Safaricom has recently launched a new product called Baze. Some Kenyans may have already interacted with the platform while it was in its test phases and understand that it is a mobile-focused video-on-demand service. The company explains that Baze offers a wide selection of local plus regional short-form videos from comedy, to drama, lifestyle, music, sports and much more.
Basically, it is a subscription-based mobile platform where users can enjoy a wide variety of content including shows all from their browser.
How to access Safaricom Baze:
- Visit baze.co.ke on your mobile browser and follow the prompts.
- Or dial *544*55#, on your Safaricom line, from where you can buy a subscription, or unsubscribe.
- There are two subscriptions: Content access is KES 10 daily, or KES 20 daily for access plus 200MB data.
- You can still use WiFi or your normal bundles
- Subscriptions can also be bought on the mySafaricom App through the Discover Tab.
Safaricom says Baze has a wide library of video content including first-run exclusives. All these will be accessible via the phone browser. Even when you access the link above on a desktop, you will see it is a mobile-only site.
Baze vs Viusasa:
I believe the approach Safaricom is going with has been tested locally with Viusasa. That’s one app that has proved to be quite popular in this market. Safaricom could be looking to build a clone of Viusasa while fixing Viusasa’s failures, making both the users and the creators happy, having a larger library of content, and slowly building a strong TikTok, YouTube plus Netflix competitor. Will it work? Ah… We wait to see how things fair in the coming months.
The KES 10 fee feels about right in terms of pricing. Viusasa, however, has more pricing options. Admittedly, the largest group of Kenyans who use the platform must be going for the daily subscription anyways.
Baze’s mobile-only web app approach feels weird though. However, it is obvious that most people who watch the type of content Baze will be pushing do it from their smartphones. So Safaricom’s math with the new platform could be checking out well. I still feel like having an actual app would be better.
From the launch event, one thing that stood out is how Safaricom brought in lots of content creators from different platforms. It is not clear what content they’ll be pushing on Baze, and if it will be the same content they put out on their current platforms.
Safaricom promises content creators will be able to monetise their work. The company says there is a 60/40 share model where creators will make 60% while the company takes 40%. That’s really good! However, it isn’t clear how this will be calculated. Will it be down to the number of seconds watched? I don’t have the information.
If it is based on streams, then creators need to know how streams are counted, what amount of the KES 10 daily a user has paid to access the platform goes to the creator depending on the amount of content they watch, and how well the platform is suited for growth and reach. No creator wants to reach the same number of people daily. No creator wants to reach a lesser number. No creator wants to share their revenue in a way that someone else makes money while you’re the one pulling users to the platform.
Discovery and Algorithms:
One thing that stands out for TikTok is how anyone can go viral. This is something no other app has been able to nail right. All you need to do on TikTok is download the app, and the algorithm will learn what you love and recommend such content for you. You don’t even need to log in.
Similarly, on YouTube, anyone can progressively build up their channel, amass a following by getting discovered on the home page or via recommended videos. YouTube also has a comprehensive monetisation program with the rules being clear on how things work, and how money is made.
Safaricom Baze needs to have a proper approach on how content will be discovered on the site. Everyone deserves a chance at getting their content seen, and enjoyed. At the same time, popular content deserves to rank higher. There needs to be a proper algorithm that does all that well.
Creators need to be assured that as many people as possible will see their content. Creators need to know that they will not only make money but that their audience will also grow thanks to being on Baze. The element of ‘virality’ shouldn’t be lost, but there should also be fairness in discovery through things like subscriptions, sharing, and recommendations.
If those things don’t work, then after acquiring as many paying users as possible in the initial stages, many won’t come back later on. The many creators who will be onboarded will, later on, realise they either can’t grow, can’t make enough money, or can’t make their content exclusive to Baze before ditching the platform altogether.
Things Safaricom needs to work on to make Baze great:
- The platform needs to properly explain to everyone the value proposition. No one will pay for content they can get for free from Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. Or on other platforms, they’re already subscribed to.
- Creators need to be made happy. And this isn’t just by paying them to make content. It is also by ensuring they’re growing, getting seen by more people, and not being controlled on what to do.
- How revenue is shared should be properly explained so that anyone who wants to create content on/for Baze knows what they’re signing up for. The 60/40 model is really good, but how does it work exactly?
- The videos I’ve watched are good in terms of quality. I hope all videos on the platform will be of great quality all through.
- POLL: A web app vs an actual app?….. An actual app wins in my tally. Baze needs an actual app available on all platforms including smart TVs. Lots of work for Safaricom? Yes! Worth it? Yes, because watching on the mobile browser has been hard for the period I’ve tested out Baze.
- There should be more subscription tiers. Having it only as daily is good on the on-set. However, in the future, paying for a one-month subscription will make more sense provided the platform will have grown and had more content.
- Enable offline saving such that people can download and save things for watching later on. Yes, that requires an actual app, and yes that requires people to pay weekly or monthly.
I still haven’t found content suited for me on Baze. So I won’t be paying for another day’s subscription. I hope over time, there will be something for everyone.