The video-on-demand space is slowly maturing in SA
Even though South African subscription-based video-ondemand (VOD) services have failed to attract the expected millions of subscribers, the technology is developing at an unbelievable speed with new players trying to attract subscribers.
Unlike the local mobile cellphone sector, which managed to attract millions of subscribers when it launched 20 years ago, VOD, which is in its infancy, seems not to be doing that well.
The deliver y of video content is shifting towards subscription-based VOD and consumption habits are fast changing – a development that provides hope for revenue streams diversification for all players involved.
Already Vidi, an online streaming service owned by Times Media Group, is providing subscription-based VOD services at R149 a month without extra costs for data. Times Media Group owns the Sunday Times newspaper.
The countr y ’s big gest pay-TV operator MultiChoice also provides the same services to its premium clients through DStv BoxOffice.
While Altech Node, owned by JSElisted Altron, provides subscription at R299 a month for access to older movies and TV shows, and newer movies are available for rental at between R15 and R25.
Earlier this year Naspers*, the owner of MultiChoice, revealed that its DStv BoxOffice rentals have reached a massive 600 000 movies a month, which could be delivering millions in revenues similar to those earned by US-based Netf lix – a global provider of on-demand internet streaming media.
That said, both Vidi and Node are not making noise about the number of subscribers on their books, which may be a sign that things are not that rosy.
But this week Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer: MTN South Africa, pressed ahead with the official launch of MTN FrontRow subscription-based VOD service, designed to target a niche market rather than the masses. “We picked up on the need and wanted to offer the service to our subscribers. It’s something we feel playing in that space will give our customers a lot of benefits,” says Annetts.
When asked whether the current subscription and rental pricing offered by MTN will be able to attract ordinary viewers to watch VOD, Annetts says: “[MTN FrontRow] is not for everybody. The key target will be your middle to upper class.”
MTN FrontRow i s available at the launch price of R179 or R399 a