Subscription Video On Demand in Africa
African online video streaming platforms have been expanding into markets outside their countries with localized content and user-friendly subscription methods giving many consumers entertainment alternatives from subscribing to streaming media and video on demand services.Streaming video platforms like ShowMax were expected to put choice back in the hands of the viewer and be able to watch the content they wanted, when they wanted. But the growing fragmentation of the on-demand market threatens to leave African consumers worse off.While DSTV is among the biggest subscription video on demand players, they have plenty of competitors for content. Your blogger sees the future of media as defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers.In most African countries, falling smartphone prices and improved 4G coverage have also contributed to heighten smartphone penetration and to a growth in Subscription Video on Demand services.One of the earliest examples of such service to hit the African market was a local service that carries live sports along with video on demand and monthly subscription costs start at US$3.50.Considering the launch of Showmax into the African market, audiences fall behind in the number of content selections available.Facebook’s video platform Watch is also a sign of how the market will look like going forward and like traditional media and television, technology companies are making attempts to reposition themselves and take advantage of the fast growing streaming services uptake and changing viewer behaviour.While these new services give African consumers unlimited entertainment options, for the most part, they don’t come for free. The cost and confusion of having content tied to so many different players could ultimately provoke a return to bundling and a pay TV model.The likes of Showmax and Netflix are known for their original content, and they use these exclusive programs to persuade customers to subscribe. They’re also cheaper than having to negotiate rights and region deals with the studios in Europe, Asia and America.In addition to Subscription Video on Demand services companies, many social media platforms and technology companies are adding video streaming to their offerings. They’re using the original productions approach of Showmax which has arguably become the industry standard in Africa.
My South African friend, a Showmax Subscriber, said he prefers streaming videos online rather than going to the movie theaters nowadays. “I can watch high-quality movies and TV shows online whenever I want. However, at the same time, I can find the same content online for free, but that’s illegal and kind of hard to search for, so I like streaming services more,” he told your blogger. With the growing competition in the Subscription Video on Demand services market, African online streaming services are specifically targeting Africa by providing live sport and localized content through a mobile-centric platform. The streaming industry is booming in Africa. In fact, one of the streaming platform that your blogger is aware of, has recently reached a new daily record of 1 million minutes, which is about 5 years of content in one single day.The service offers subscribers access to thousands of TV shows, movies and exclusive content for a relatively affordable price specifically aimed at African markets. “We offer a lot of services such as live streaming, documentaries, children’s shows and exclusive African movies. And it’s very easily accessible on a desktop or you can download it through the mobile app,” said one of the staff at the company when contacted by your blogger.He also added that many Africans are getting access to mobile phone data that can be used to access content, which is one of the main consumer targets for Subscription Video on Demand services companies.Africa has great growth potential. Especially when compared to paid TV subscriptions which took 20 years to hit 1 million subscribers, and streaming services only take less than six months to reach that number.African Subscription Video on Demand services companies buys content that is region specific for the convenience of their users. For example, they accommodate their consumers through a relatively easier subscription method, by eliminating credit card requirements, when compared to their competitors such as Netflix and allows mobile money payments.Streaming companies hopes to continue expanding subscriptions and their target audience through localization. They have adjusted their products to meet the demands of their consumers by compromising video quality to meet the speeds of network providers and the different phone compatibilities.Some are currently having more than 10,000 movies in their database, and go in-depth when buying new content to see what Africans will like. Despite the increasing demand for online streaming in Africa, the biggest competitor to these services is piracy.It’s about convincing the African consumer that a couple of DVDs is equivalent to the price of a monthly subscription that comes with customer service and unlimited access to content.