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Yearbook Jan 2019

26 yearbook 2019 an pay-TV operators on the continent rest easy and keep partying like it’s 1999? Clearly not. OTT video is taking off in Africa, and while far from the juggernaut seen in other parts of the world, it’ll only get bigger. So if you’re an African pay-TV operator, what’s the plan? At the risk of stating the obvious, the first step is to embrace the change. To that end, we’ve launched two OTT products, DStv Now (TV Everywhere service, free to DStv customers) and Showmax (SVOD). We also set up a separate unit, MultiChoice Connected Video, to manage and develop them because OTT requires different tools and metrics, and arguably a different mindset to traditional pay-TV. How are we doing? At the current run-rate, our OTT services generate almost half a billion play events annually. Showmax alone has delivered more than 11 000 years’ worth of video since launch. DStv Now’s usage is growing incredibly rapidly, with viewership in 2018 20 times higher than just two years earlier. So far, so good. Perhaps unsurprisingly, viewing activity correlates strongly with the availability of uncapped and/or affordable internet access, which means South Africa dominates OTT video on the continent. Kenya and Nigeria are some way back, but are still most definitely interesting. Why run two diferent OTT services? Strategically, they have very different jobs to do. TV Everywhere sets the scene for the future where the full range of live channels and VOD content is on offer, and the customer’s key choice is how they want it delivered – via satellite or via the internet. Perhaps more importantly, TV Everywhere reduces churn dramatically. In the case of DStv Premium, churn is almost 40% lower for customers who use DStv Now in addition to using the normal DTH service. Suddenly the OTT threat looks like an opportunity. Meanwhile, the SVOD service is there to cater for those not keen on traditional pay-TV. It’s impossible to write about SVOD without mentioning Netflix – it’s a great service, it’s priced well and it operates on an almost incomprehensibly huge scale. So how can an African service compete? A key myth to dispel is that this is a winner-takes-all game. In our experience, customers happily sign up for more than one service as long as each of them gives something unique. In the case of Showmax, we’ve got a mix of local TELEVISION Africa OTT in Africa, a prize worth fighting for It’s not news that OTT video presents a disruptive threat to traditional pay-TV businesses. But is that true specifically in Africa, where internet connectivity still isn’t ubiquitous and the cost of data is restrictive? NICLAS EKDAHL gives the African view. C the fact that so many people subscribe to both Showmax and Netflix proves the point that coexistence is possible Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of MultiChoice Connected Video


Yearbook Jan 2019
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