Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Discover Digital to launch a new South African video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service, says 'viewers today want freedom of choice'.

Yet another video-on-demand (VOD) service is set to launch in South Africa next month with Discover Digital that will be making another service available in the country's overheated streamer services arena.

It's not yet clear what exactly Discover Digital's a new video-on-demand content hub will be called, but its Digital Entertainment on Demand (DEOD) service will very likely be offered as a straight-to-consumer service, and also as a flow-through service to other interested operators.

Discover Digital's to be launched service is the latest rival that will compete with video fighters like Naspers' Showmax, the global streaming service Netflix, MTN's limp-along VU, PCCW Global's ONTAPtv.com, and PrideTV all battling for users.

South Africa's cash-guzzling SVOD sector that has seen breathless millions spent since 2016 on content acquisition rights and marketing as streaming services all try to secure a bigger foothold in the door, has already seen spectacular failures like Times Media's VIDI and Altech's Node that both imploded.

While VOD and subscription VOD services are only being used by an extremely small part of the South Africa viewing audience - the latest Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS) update used from April 2017 pegs it at only 1% of the total South African TV viewer universe - it is growing fast.

Discover Digital's new on-demand content hub that will have its media launch on 4 May, will be offering a broad bouquet of premium local and international entertainment and educational content and linear channels.

Discover Digital says it is taking its new VOD service to market in partnership with existing mobile operators as well as big consumer brands that may opt to offer its new service as a value-add, or add their own branding to the service.

Now Discover Digital's managing director Stephen Watson says the specialist on-demand company is aggressively entering the African market with a plan to bring fully converged linear on-demand news and entertainment streaming services to viewers across the African continent.

"South Africans will begin to take up paid for on-demand services in greater quantities and I believe this will then start to significantly shift broadcast ad budgets and spend," says Stephen Watson.

"Audiences no longer want to be prescribed extensive, expensive bouquets of channels that they may only watch a small percentage of, or that overwhelmingly do not speak to their interest; they want to be able to choose and so smaller packs of niche focused content or channels is becoming more readily available."

"Viewers today want freedom of choice. They want customisable, affordable access to movies, news, sports, music and TV series wherever they are," says Stephen Watson.

"Disruptive new models are breaking the traditional broadcast and pay-TV moulds by letting viewers choose what packages and genres they want, what subscription models they prefer, and even how they'd like to pay. VOD delivers."

Naspers is reported to be seeking partnerships with mobile operators across sub-Saharan Africa to boost ShowMax and has already concluded a partnership with Safaricom in Kenya with talks underway with other telecommunication operators.

Meanwhile MTN Nigeria recently announced its over-the-top (OTT) VOD service for subscribers, while Ericsson is securing content deals for its NUVU VOD service.