In a potentially game-changing move for the African TV/OTT and mobile industries, Vodafone and Naspers (parent company of Multichoice) have announced a partnership to launch a video on demand service that will debut in broadband homes and later be rolled out to Vodafone subscribers across several African territories.Â One of the most significant developments in this effort is that Naspers has already inked deals with CBS, Time Warner, MGM and BBC to provide TV series and movies for the new platform.
Four key observations:
1) To this point, any sort of TV Everywhere play has been almost non-existent across the continent with even Multichoice (easily the most dominant African pay TV power) offering a paltry lineup to out-of-home users and a generally lackluster package at that.Â Success with a premier wireless video on demand and/or TV offering would represent a hefty leap forward for attracting and monetizing Africa’s hundreds of millions of “mobile first” consumers.
2) African mobile operators can no longer differentiate with voice and text plans alone and are slashing prices to compensate.Â Video opportunities will fuel telecoms’ net profit frontier — wireless broadband.Â Video content is far and away the top driver of mobile internet subscriptions and serious telecoms must quickly and intelligently launch compelling video services that will drive profit across a portfolio of products, especially connected offerings.
3) Quality programming is mission critical.Â Introducing substandard content is a recipe for disaster at any price point.Â Naspers understands this and has moved rapidly to secure formidable TV series and films.
4) The window of opportunity to dominate African mobile broadband and mobile video is exactly now.Â Not that more motivation was required, but shrewd video services providers and telecoms across Africa should see the Naspers/Vodafone tie-up as nothing short of throwing down the video gauntlet on the Dark Continent.Â Even if Naspers and Vodafone generate lackluster results or outright fail, exponential market changes are afoot with enterprising operators as well as African subscribers sure to reap the benefits.
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