Africa Tv networks survival will depend on millennials

Posted on March 2, 2017 12:00 am

Africans are now able to watch live TV on their phones and tablets aggregated into apps.Most of the apps represents free-to-air television providers and offer free-to-air networks’ live streaming and VOD content.The apps available supports both iOS and Android mobile devices and are available for users to download. However, the demographic that will decide whether Tv networks in Africa will survive are the millennials. Africa’s young adults will decide on the future of the free-to-air television dominance in the continent’s video entertainment business.Last year, Africa welcomed international video streaming service Netflix, as faster broadband network and affordable data plans have allowed African customers to enjoy online the content that used to be available only from television broadcasters. As someone who is directly involved in streaming business, I have no doubt millennials in big cities across Africa tend to shift from television broadcasters to over-the-top services and this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.According to estimations, African millennials those born between the 1980s and early 2000s (Your blogger is one of them) make up more than a third of the 1.2 billion population.Therefore, the future will be in over the top and many want to capture this market. The number of millennials is going to be big in Africa and infrastructure is now being prepared. Many countries have rolled out 4G and smartphone prices are getting lower each year.Those service providers that offers customers thousands of videos and other exclusive content most of whom are paying customers, access the services via their smartphones.In my view, this is the moment for the local talents and content creators as the content hungry over the top services will keep on coming to tap into the growing African middle class. But there is a challenge as over the top need to compete with the deep-pocketed free-to-air televisions. These free to airs networks can pay up to three times per episode. Your blogger can’t reveal the exact number, but he does know that over the top in African markets are only paying a fraction of what they pay but on the other hand, free-to-air revenues are high because many people still watch television.

The on-demand services will also have to face uncertain regulations with regard to corporate establishment, taxes and censorship and this is already happening with Netflix facing such hurdles in several African countries. Your blogger is aware of more than a dozen African governments who are currently producing regulations meant to govern the over the top services. The regulations will take into account the tax treaties and censorship measures similar to those applied for televisions.But as I told one of those technocrats helping craft such regulations in unspecified African country, censorship as such is against the idea of the internet. Despite the challenges posed by censorship and the not yet fully available broadband connectivity, especially in the rural part of the continent, am one of those who remains optimistic the over the top business will continue to grow in Africa. New platforms exemplifies the experience of file viewing in Africa. Each viewer’s sequence of viewing is no longer planned by the broadcaster, but is assembled through individual preferences from the available catalogue of shows.The sequential arrangement of files can still be described as a flow determined by the viewer rather than the broadcaster.Mobile TV, like other kinds of digital media, tends to be framed within a democratising or participatory media discourse. The end of hierarchical models of mass media has been replaced by the personalised productive dynamics of mobile devices media. Mobile Tv has reorganised the ways media are produced, distributed and consumed in terms of empowering people and also how notions such as flow have become re-articulated. In Africa, this has made visible in the operations of algorithms on sites that recommend programs based on past patterns of viewing. Recommender algorithms and features such as autoplay, can be viewed as creating a more individually curated experience of what ostensibly remains television series of units assembled into a period of viewing which has killed audience as a public in African television market. Therefore, the Tv networks that want to survive, will have to embrace the new norm or face extinction.This mobile television has forever changed the way audiences consume television content in Africa and beyond.

Contador Harrison