3ktv is beating South African channels in Zimbabwe, big deal or nah?

Leonard Sengere Avatar

There is something about consuming something Zimbabwean, whether it be physical or digital. You get this weird patriotic feeling that is hard to explain.

You almost always know that you probably could have had some foreign alternative that would most likely have been better but for some reason, the local product satisfies more. Thanks for reading.

Regarding video content, YouTube has been a boon to the local content creator. I have my go-to Zimbos, and some regularly pull in tens of thousands of views per video.

I jumped on the TikTok bandwagon just to see what Zimbos were up to on there and I gotta admit, I’m hooked now. Those TikTokers also get good engagement.

There is no question that there is an appetite for local content. That’s why ZBC-TV’s failure is hard to stomach. A decades-long monopoly, enthusiastic content creators and a thirsty populace and yet nothing doing.

This all meant when the airwaves were opened up to other players we all rejoiced. It has not been quite the sprint we thought it was going to be but we can finally say there are other Zimbabwean television channels that are not ZBC-TV again.

See, TV still has a place in this country. For as much engagement YouTubers and TikTokers get, it is but a drop of what they would get if internet access was cheaper in the country. As a result, terrestrial and satellite TV are still important.


One channel that has apparently been riding high is 3ktv. Licensed in 2020 and launched in 2022, the channel is now available on DStv. Of course, being on DStv is not an achievement in itself, there are some questionable channels on there, but it’s not nothing either.

What is impressive is that as Daily News is reporting, 3ktv is now more popular in Zimbabwe than South African channels. They say this includes channels under the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

This is not nothing but of course, we have to remember that we are not talking about SABC 1,2 and 3 as those are not available on DStv in Zimbabwe. Also to remember is that Daily News, who are doing the reporting are affiliated with 3ktv, being sister ventures.

You could also argue that DStv is not as popular as it once was. True. However, it remains that whoever has access to 3ktv also has access to those South African channels on there. Meaning they are voluntarily choosing to tune in to 3ktv.

Which South African channels?

So, which South African channels are being bested by 3ktv in Zimbabwe? Going through the DStv channel list I think of note are the Mzansi and Africa Magic channels. I know, albeit anecdotally, that those channels have some following in this country, what with the dramas/soapies they carry.

I think we have to classify the M-Net channels as South African too and ask, is 3ktv beating those too? It’s possible, after all, most of the M-Net channels are only available in the more expensive bouquets.

Even if that’s the case, it would still be a commendable feat for 3ktv. It would be all the evidence we need to know that there really is a raging thirst for Zimbabwean video content.

Having dropped off the satellite-TV train, I have not really experienced 3ktv personally and so cannot comment on the quality of programming on there. If you have indulged, please do let us know what that’s like in the comments section below.

Oh and putting 3ktv aside, you can let us know if you consume local content and if you do, which platform do you frequent?

Where are the set-top boxes?

Internet access is expensive in Zimbabwe and while DStv has some cheaper packages, it still requires a monthly subscription. So, for 3ktv to reach the heights it wants, it has to be available for free in the way ZBC-TV is.

It’s not going to be in that exact same way, we are moving away from analogue tv if you had forgotten. I think we can be forgiven for forgetting that’s the case. We are going digital at a slothly pace after all.

To this day, you cannot readily get the set-top box that allows you to watch these Zimbabwean channels. The word is always that the authorities are ‘starting to roll out the set-top boxes’ but on the ground, there is still a shortage.

For 3ktv and their competition’s sake I hope that is resolved soon. On that day, we could truly have our own OpenView, bringing eyeballs and content together.

Also read:

Holding OpenView decoders makes you liable to arrest. Why do Zimbabweans still do it?

So… ZBC was serious about digital TV channels, six are already on the air


What’s your take?

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  1. Registered Voter

    3ktv is okay but not as good as the South African channels. They need more content not repeating a show a whole month zvobhowa. They need to have simple reality shows of ordinary people like the South African channels vasina mbiri.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I had forgotten that repeats are a thing on satellite tv. I understand why repeats are a thing but I agree, they are annoying but if many big, well-funded foreign channels cannot do without them, we just have to accept that it’s part and parcel of any channel broadcasting 24 hours a day.

  2. Jose

    The Daily News is trying to rig this, we are miles behind SA creators, Ohh Leonard now you are admiting that our Internet is expensive did the big kahuna slash your salary ?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      😂 It’s expensive relative to our incomes, I have always agreed with that. So, I guess it’s more accurate to say we can’t afford it than to say it’s expensive.

  3. Anonymous

    3Ktv has bettet quality by far aa compared to ZBC and nice programing as well .its well orienteted.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Is that so? I’ve heard the same before, where people disagree is on just how much better 3ktv is. Some say only by a little, some say by a huge margin like you.

      1. Imwe Mbeu

        Of course it’s better than ZTV the rest dza nharo

  4. Bulu

    How do I get it to open view HD?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I don’t think you can get it on Open View, remember Open View is a South African product which should not be for sale in Zimbabwe. There will be no Zimbabwean channels on there.

    2. Tm

      You can get it on media star or starsat decorders with dish facing east or on the direction of kwese. Satellite select Bonum 1. Free of charge

  5. Ruf

    Leonard it would been better if you at least watched 3ktv for at say a week the wrote the piece. Now we have to do it ourselves.we got no idea on the programming.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      You’re right there. I am not a TV guy, and I’m talking linear TV here. It’s guaranteed that I will not like 3ktv but by watching it I could find out the quality of programming. I have gotten some feedback from some people whose tastes I know and am pretty sure what to expect but I wanted to find out from the community what you all think too.

  6. Anonymous

    Ah DSTV those were the days. I remember them fondly

    1. Leonard Sengere

      For me it’s coming up to a decade since I moved on from them.

  7. Sadza raNezuro

    3KTV was on the free bouquet when they launched. We watched the entire season 1 of Tangled and that’s when they moved to the lite bouquet. Anyway, quality is better than ZTV’s but it’s content is much like ZTV’s, literally. It even got Macdonald Gurura at the News desk, shows with the likes of Tsotsi & Carl Ncube (we rarely see some of these people on ZTV now since the launch). It’s like they just moved from ZTV to try something “a bit” different.

    Then came ZTN, I’ve got to say, it’s way better than the ZTV & even 3KTV. Their programming is different (3KTV & ZTV – the difference is the same), quality is even better than 3KTV, they’re just doing things differently – you can’t compare them to ZTV or 3KTV.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Interesting. Thanks for this. I will be sure to check it all out.

    2. 2Ten Ent

      Seconded baba, ZTN is a Channel to be, I believe if they get full live PSL licence ZTV inofa kuti or inosara vada kuona zve Farming and Chimurenga

    3. Comedy Bishop

      I personally find 3Ktv to be much better than ZTN (which is more like ZTV all round) both from a content and picture quality point of view. My only advice to 3Ktv would be to increase its local soapie offerings (which are way more than ZTN as it is), if the economics allow, which would make the station even more attractive. As it is, I can’t even remember just one ZTN programme of note at the top of my head, which says a lot about the station.

      1. Sadza raNezuro

        Yes they have MORE SOAPIES – more like African Movies with their sound scores and dhiramatization (I think they’re trying to beat ZTV here). If you watched ztv zvekudaro you probably know kuti even the sounds they use on their (3KTV) adverts is the same as yaiva kuZTV and yes, it’s no longer there which explains it 😄

  8. Vegas maglaz

    Zimbabwe online channels are rolling on satellite signals for free with the right equipment and accredited personal like me.263772948053

    1. Rachiel

      Repeatations are not necessary 3ktv we can run like SA channels.. CCA-Africa partners with you for content creation. Zimbabweans come and learn how to create content for 3ktv, ZTN, Keyona etc

  9. Cham

    You are now lying yooo

  10. Ezrael Chigariro

    I m on Family Dstv but I can’t get 3ktv.why.on the launch they promised channel from Access upwards will access 3ktv. Please advise.

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