Can Sam­sung usher in a new era for TV view­ing in SA?

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - BY GUGU LOURIE

Acom­bi­na­tion of i ncreased de­mand for smart tele­vi­sion sets and in­ad­e­quate broad­band band­width speed has opened up op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­tent providers. As a re­sult Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics SA is de­vel­op­ing a strat­egy around con­tent to en­able South Africans to en­joy the benefits of mod­ern tele­vi­sion.

This devel­op­ment is likely to usher in a new era for tele­vi­sion in the coun­try, where in­creas­ing num­bers of view­ers are ditch­ing their old-fash­ioned cath­ode ray tube (CRT) tele­vi­sion sets for slim, high-def­i­ni­tion (HD) liq­uid crys­tal dis­play (LCD) and plasma dis­play units.

The boom in sales of dig­i­tal and HD TV sets, which are be­com­ing more af­ford­able, raises ex­pec­ta­tions of an ac­cel­er­a­tion of video-on-de­mand con­tent on TV sets.

Sam­sung is part­ner­ing with South African con­tent pro­duc­ers to de­liver videoon-de­mand for the or­di­nary viewer. Not sur­pris­ingly, var­i­ous play­ers in this in­dus­try are al­ready po­si­tion­ing them­selves to ben­e­fit from this devel­op­ment.

Sam­sung has part­nered with eNCA to pro­vide view­ers with easy ac­cess to Africa’s lat­est news, and is work­ing with Su­perS­port to of­fer sports high­lights, live scores and player in­for­ma­tion across Africa.

From April, the global TV man­u­fac­turer will also pro­vide cus­tomers with a one month’s free movie con­tent from VIDI, which gives Smart TV view­ers in South Africa on-de­mand ac­cess to the lat­est Hol­ly­wood block­busters and popular TV se­ries. Sam­sung will also team up with the stream­ing app Simfy to pro­vide un­lim­ited ac­cess to a world of mu­sic.

Fur­ther­more, this year Sam­sung’s Smart TVs, in­clud­ing the pre­mium SUHD l ine-up, will be pow­ered by Tizen, an open-source plat­form that sup­ports web stan­dards for App TV devel­op­ment. Most i mpor­tantly, it en­sures that con­sumers will have ac­cess to a much broader range of Smart TV con­tent and ser­vices.

Com­ment­ing on the devel­op­ment, Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics SA’s deputy man­ag­ing direc­tor Matthew Thack­rah says: “It’s re­ally about us po­si­tion­ing our­selves as a mar­ket leader from an in­no­va­tion per­spec­tive. So, we know we have the tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess. We know we have the best-de­signed TV sets. We know we have the best-per­form­ing TV sets. It’s about how do we get the con­tent onto them.” ex­plains Thack­rah.

The in­ten­tion is to make sure that the con­sumers are aware that they are “buy­ing a TV with ad­di­tional con­tent avail­abil­ity”, says Thack­rah.

As part of this strat­egy to en­sure that Smart TV sets pro­vide the best pos­si­ble view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to view­ers, Sam­sung has also part­nered with Vox Tele­com. This part­ner­ship aims to make in­ter­net TV af­ford­able.

Ev­ery Sam­sung Smart TV pur­chased via par­tic­i­pat­ing re­tail­ers comes with one ter­abyte of data from Vox Tele­com, which is valid for a year and “is un­throt­tled, un­shaped, pre­mium-grade ADSL”.

Net­flix, the US-based global com­pany that pro­vides a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice for watch­ing TV episodes and movies is plan­ning to come to SA in the next two years.

One won­ders whether Sam­sung will seek a part­ner­ship with Netf lix. “That would be our in­ten­tion, but you never com­mit to some­thing l ike that,” says Thack­rah. “But our in­ten­tion would be to part­ner with good con­tent part­ners. We want to make sure that our con­tent is al­ways rel­e­vant and is in de­mand.”

One thing is cer­tain – Smart TV is dic­tat­ing a new era for tele­vi­sion and Sam­sung is likely to face com­pe­ti­tion from its ri­vals such as Sony and LG, which could also come up with their own con­tent strate­gies for the South African mar­ket.

Sam­sung wants its

to be more ap­peal­ing to con­sumers by en­sur­ing that they have high-qual­ity con­tent to al­low view­ers to en­joy the use of their equip­ment.

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