The video-on-de­mand space is slowly ma­tur­ing in SA

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - BY GUGU LOURIE

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

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