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Yearbook Jan 2019

27 content (e.g. Mzansi Magic, kykNET), top international content (everything from HBO through to Adult Swim), and we’re building on the huge success of our first Showmax Originals, Tali’s Wedding Diary, and The Girl From St Agnes, with more original content in the pipeline. A future for African SVOD So in our view, there most definitely is a future for African SVOD services. The secret is to not just emulate what’s already out there. In other words, if one sets out to be inferior version of Netflix, that’s not going to cut it. We’re playing our own game, which means leveraging our strengths in international and local content acquisition, local content production, local payments, and local distribution. We need to earn the right to compete so, yes, that means looking at what other services do, but it also means looking at what they aren’t doing. And the fact that so many people subscribe to both Showmax and Netflix proves the point that coexistence is possible. The dilemma for a pay-TV operator is what if they make their SVOD service too good – doesn’t this just incentivise people to cut the cord (or dump the dish) and move online? We don’t see it that way. As long as what we do is net additive to the customer base and makes financial sense, then we’re moving in the right direction. My experience launching an OTT service from within a satellite TV operator in the Nordic region, where incidentally the proportion of homes with uncapped broadband is far higher than in South Africa, highlights that cannibalisation wasn’t an issue and instead we managed to grow the overall base when we added an OTT offering. Like most things in Africa, it would be a mistake to take trends from elsewhere in the world and assume the story will be the same here. While the pay-TV universe may be shrinking in markets like the US, there’s still plenty of growth to come in Africa. Pay-TV subscriptions across the continent are set to grow 55% between 2018 and 2023 – an increase of 14.5 million subscribers (source: Digital TV Research). A prize worth fighting for That’s a prize well worth fighting for. The cream on top is SVOD, with African revenues in 2023 projected to be more than four times higher than in 2018 (source: Digital TV Research). So yes, we’re going to continue to invest in SVOD, and no, hobbling our offering to protect our DTH service doesn’t make sense. In fact, in 2019 and beyond, our intention is to ramp up things with revised platforms and new features. We’ll double-down on local content and originals, and widen our range of apps. Another crucial area is to solve the data challenge for customers, which means new telco partnerships and a continued push to get to the holy grail of fixed price, uncapped mobile data for video. The next few years are going to be a period of intense activity for OTT in Africa. Loads of new homegrown services will come on stream (pardon the pun) and many more international entrants will do their bit to get a slice of what will one day be a massive market. Most will fall by the wayside, but some are going to shine. PR can change your mind Stone Soup is a boutique PR agency specialising in bespoke Public Relations, B2B communications, reputation management and events. Sandra Gordon 082 450 8113 www.stonesoup.co.za


Yearbook Jan 2019
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