Friday, November 13, 2020

Where’s SABC3? Why no SABC News? Why R7 a day? Where did the name come from? TelkomONE answers what you’re wondering about the new video streaming service.

by Thinus Ferreira

Where's SABC3? Why no SABC News? How did the name of Telkom's new TelkomONE video streaming service come about? Why R7 per day? I went looking for answers.

Telkom this week launched its new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service that costs R7 per day or R49 per month, offering a collection of streamed linear TV channels from SABC1 to TRT World, and a library catalogue of shows from Generations to MTV Africa's Lasizwe: Fake it Till You Make it.

While Telkom addressed and issued most information about TelkomONE, some questions remain and TVwithThinus went looking for answers.

For instance, although several SABC channels are included in the 5-year deal, and although TV news channels like Al Jazeera and TRT World are available as linear TV channels, the SABC's own TV news channel SABC News is conspicuously absent. But why?

"SABC News is currently under an exclusive agreement," says Wanda Mkhize, Telkom's executive for smart home and content. 

It means that SABC News, although it's the South African public broadcaster's public TV news channel, can only be streamed through the SABC's own SABC News app, and is of course carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

How did Telkom arrive at the R7 per day price point, and what factored into the decision to arrive at the subscription price of R7 per day and R49 per week? 

Wanda explains that a number of factors were taken into consideration: input costs - both content and data, the current offering in the market and their price points, as well as who the targeted customer segment - the youth market - is.

Another channel that is missing is SABC3. Does TelkomONE have plans to add this TV channel? Wanda says yes. "Yes it will be shortly included once certain property rights have been cleared," she says.

While the majority of the emphasis has been placed on the deal that Telkom has signed with the SABC specifically, the streaming service has more than just SABC content. But what are these?

Wanda Mkhize says that "Telkom has aggregated content from a variety of local and international content providers such as ViacomCBS, Fremantle, Discovery Inc., and a host of local independent producers who meet our focus area of music, comedy, lifestyle, and series".

How did the brand name of TelkomONE come about and what were other shortlisted contenders? While Wanda doesn't want to say what names made second and third place - and there definitely were, she says that Telkom "worked with our agencies in the development of the brand name".

When Cell C launched Cell C black and MultiChoice launched Showmax they did so with a big catalogue of content that they then gradually started to scale back when they saw that it was too much - or in other words, that a lot of people all watch only a smaller chunk of content. 

How did Telkom make the decision of "how big" the launch catalogue content offer would or should be so as to not "over-offer" but to still have a big enough variety?

"The TelkomOne platform offers a variety of content mix, live TV and catch up, as well as a specially curated library of video-on demand assets," says Wanda. "However, our approach to VOD content on the service has been to not try and be everything to everyone but to rather focus on the youth market."

"This has allowed us to focus less on quantity but more on quality content specifically tailored to this market," she says. "We're committed to adding in new content on a very regular basis inline with the learnt customer likes and preferences".

And as Cell C, Showmax and others have said where they want to be after a year, what subscriber number target does TelkomONE have for its 1-year anniversary or by 5 years? What would mean success?

"The launch of TelkomONE free and the TelkomONE AMP propositions are just the start," she says but doesn't want to mention any numbers for now. "We are within the upcoming year looking at expanding our value proposition to cater for a varied customer base. Whilst we have set aside certain targets for each of these, we are not at liberty to disclose these."