PlayBox Neo helps Akili Kids! become the most watched children’s content channel in Kenya
Akili Kids! was launched in Kenya on March 31, 2020, has become he most watched children’s channel in the country. What the founders of the Network could never have known in March of 2020 was just how timely and important their programming would be when Kenyan schools were shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founders Jeff Schon and Jesse Soleil created the Nairobi-based Akili Network as a 24/7, free-to-air children’s channel that showcases entertaining and educational content with a balanced mix of local and acquired content.
The Akili Network team had to quickly learn to build playlist logs, schedule promos and manage traffic and billing, and upload video content with the new PlayBox Neo Cloud2TV system. The use of the platform helped the team get up to speed in a matter of days, broadcasting almost the moment they got the basic understanding of the system.
Akili Kids! has two PlayBox Neo servers located at a data center in Nairobi with secure Internet access, which feed over-the-air transmitters throughout the country. According to Akili Network’s CTO, Vincent Grosso: “we initiated virtual operations almost from launch. Cloud2TV allows employees to work from home while keeping a first-rate look on the air”. Commercials, promos, and content were uploaded by editors and program coordinators using local, often highly trafficked Internet connections. Content files, command and control, and QC came from New York.
One of the most important factors in the technical success of this virtual workflow, according to Grosso, is the ability of employees to make critical last-minute changes to programming and operations using the available Internet they have at home. “Cloud2TV allows me to select high-bandwidth files over low bandwidth connections,” says Anne Sato, Akili Network’s Programming Manager. “I can change the broadcast playlist remotely when there is a last-minute schedule change”.
Schon adds, “Everyone worked so hard to make us the most trusted children’s and family brand in Kenya. To put it in context, more kids watch Akili Kids! in Kenya daily than any of the global children’s cable networks. We are humbled that the children of Kenya love Akili Kids! and they have made us the number one children’s channel in the country”.