To relax the lockdown or to extend it? These were the questions on the majority of Ugandans’ minds as they awaited President Museveni’s speech. Uganda had so far been on lockdown for two weeks and there were signs it would be extended, but they still needed to hear it from the president – desperately.
And then something happened. Prior to the speech, there was a total power blackout throughout the country. UETCL explained that this was due to a floating island that had messed up the turbines at Nalubaale Power station (former Owen Falls Dam).
In the circumstances, Ugandans then resorted to livestreaming the presidential address on social media and other platforms and that’s where, in the words of a one Isaac Ruta, “the debate of NBS TV Vs NTV was settled.”
Just to put this into context, Uganda has a population of 45.1 million people. Of these, 60% have access to mobile phones, 24% are internet users and 5.6% are active on social media. Of those active social media users, Facebook is the most used with 2.3 million users per month according to Hootsuite’s Digital Report for Uganda.
Just before power was turned back on, NBS TV peaked at about 13,600 active live viewers while NTV peaked at about 7,100 active live viewers – that’s about half of what NBS Television had!
The comments section on Facebook was a hotspot for Uganda’s “I shall wait for comments” association. The number of screenshots about funny comments that went around was predominantly from NBS Television’s Facebook livestream, another testament that people have overtime moved on to prefer watching NBS.
On Twitter, a one Geno Eric commented: “The online views between NBS and NTV show how much you people love NBS but just pretend here.”
Immediately the presidential address was done, NBS Television went live at the Nalubaale Power Station to speak to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Eng. Irene Muloni, on what exactly had caused the national blackout, as had been predicted by some profiles online, albeit sarcastically.
This all comes after screenshots showing how a number of local TV stations were picking their live broadcasts of the preceding presidential address from NBS Television had gone viral online, further evidencing the station’s prowess in its field.
NBS Television has overtime been known for their concentration on online presence and relevance, with rumor also having it that a presence online has often been considered a key performance indicator at the Kira Road-based TV station. The numbers have over this COVID-19 lockdown totally spoken for themselves.