With Uganda currently locked in a battle against COVID-19 and a vast majority of her citizens locked in their homes, various brands have come up with all sorts of initiatives to help combat its impact on the country.
As far as media brands go, the Next Media Services platforms have particularly stood out from the rest of the pack, adjusting their programming and services seamlessly to accommodate a topic top on every human’s mind.
The biggest beneficiaries, if activity on the Twitter timeline is to go by, have been the pre-COVID-19 party-lovers. NBS Television extended the time allotted to their entertainment shows over the weekend, adding up to 3 hours to each, so Ugandans would have a hang-out feel, this time in their living rooms. For Friday, NBS After5’s MC Kats joined an already star-studded lineup on their NBS Katch Up show, providing 4 consecutive weeks of unforgettable parties, while Saturday Night Live (SNL) on Saturdays, and Late Chat on Sundays all had adjustments to fit the bill. The moves’ tremendous instant success had perceived rivals such as NTV react, only to remain dominated by the experienced star-studded cast at former.
This is a move that had been preceded by NBS Television’s quick-on-the-feet adjustment to adjust their election coverage plan to accommodate and take lead in the reliable coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in Uganda. This, among others birthed a special COVID-19 bulletin at 4:30pm every weekday, with Live@9 now starting at 8:30pm instead of 9:00pm, with the additional 30 minutes at the top being updates on COVID-19.
Next Media’s digital newspaper, Nile Post also moved to intentionally offer timely news articles to keep their fast-growing readership informed at their convenience. The Nile Post model, which entails having a full newsroom reporting on issues as a traditional newspaper would, only this time publishing on web and via an app, is one Next Media CEO, Kin Kariisa, has for years said was the future when friends and colleagues had earlier urged him to go print. The COVID-19 pandemic has left him vindicated, with it now seeing traditional newspapers adapting to it as a cost-effective measure that is also the more utilized avenue for news today.
In a bid to encourage social distancing, NBS Television shows such as “Another Round” also got creative, now airing via Skype and Zoom technology, with hosts Marcus Kwikiriza and Gaetano Kagwa doing their thing right from the comfort of their homes, with special editions now moved from the usual Tuesday timeslot to Saturdays at about 9:30pm.
The use of the Skype and Zoom technology, and the ability of their technical teams to spontaneously manipulate their technology, has also extended to NBS Television’s programming, with their niche for LIVE events and analysis hardly hindered as now, their often-well-thought-out guests come LIVE by video conferencing on all their programs.
Another Next Media platform, also Uganda’s first audiovisual radio station, Nxt Radio, introduced what they call the “Nxt DJ Moment,” which has had guest DJs given a platform to mix for their audience. It also last weekend had an online edition of popular quarterly social event, “Blankets and Wines”, dubbed “Blankets at Home” which had the listeners virtually attend their favorite event, dressed and set up in their own homes with a host of top DJs offering the music on the audiovisual station. The listeners were also seen taking photos and sharing them online via the hashtag, #BlanketsAtHome.
Sanyuka TV, Uganda’s first-ever local broadcaster of the topflight league, StarTimes Uganda Premier League, have also used this lockdown period to further stamp their foot down on their positioning as the leader in sport in entertainment. How better to capture that niche than to partner with hilarious kickboxing legend, Moses Golola, for a daily morning workout to help their viewers keep fit at home. The show also features diet tips and workout regiments along with various celebrities.
With all this done, Next Media Services have exemplified media in Uganda as an essential service, supporting the government in the fight against COVID-19. Their unique and innovative coverage has surely raised the bar.
The secret that probably keeps all this possible? All this content is put together by other Next Media Services support platforms, Next Productions Limited for the production, and Next Communications for the digital awareness and management.