The end of 2015 has been intense in the African audiovisual sector; the Implementation of DTT, new regulations, DTH offers, new TV channels, productions, program distribution agreements, set top boxes, IPTV television, Web TV, VOD (Video-On-Demand), OTT … and especially, huge investments!
Press releases and articles are raining down on the two most important events happening on the continent: Discop Africa Johannesburg and TV Connect Africa, AfricaCom in Cape Town, South Africa. Sylvain Béletre, an audiovisual analyst for Balancing Act, takes stock of the situation.
Unlike previous years, the African media landscape is being shaped. The reflection gives way to action and number sweeping uncertainties. But we are far from the final goal; the sector is still fragile and there is still a lot to achieve.
In summary, Discop proved that African audiovisual production, is taking shape to produce more programmes reaching a wider audience. A young African generation is working hard to create budgets to improve the production and the distribution, supported by a battalion of non-African companies, foreseeing a probable future growth.
On the side of AfricaCom-TV Connect Africa, following a global trend, there is much talk about distribution of content on digital networks – including TNT and broadband – OTT and VOD services resonate as a mantra in the halls of the market.
Among the impactful ads, one can note the following:
. Africa will have approximately 1 billion mobile broadband customers in 2020 – see our report on the progress of 4G in Africa.
. Companies of all kind are hoping to catch a growing part of the citizens in need of delinearized audiovisual services. The number of VoD platforms related to African content continues to grow, beyond 130 to date.
The latest project in this sector is the PCCW Global one, the online VoD service www.ontaptv.com, an app on Android and iOS available in South Africa. The next on the list is Vodacom and Telkom wishing to launch a similar service running in 2016.
. The South African market is the most competitive on the continent within the VOD segment, served by a score of serious video streaming providers, including Tuluntulu, Vidi Times Media Group, ShowMax Naspers and now, ONTAPtv.com. To support this segment that will one day be of great magnitude, SES provides VoD satellite services, and Eutelsat continues to enhance its high output satellite capacity.
Some African telecom operators, are trying to avoid becoming ‘dumb broadband pipes’ with simple conduits, on which third-party applications and content providers will start to make margins. But most of them are waiting for the right time to launch their VoD services. They must first strengthen their networks.
It is too early to say that VoD is already chipping at the audience of linear TV in Africa: broadband access is still too expensive and too rare for most of the people who can’t afford the equipment, to watch a Paying TV streaming service. Moreover, apart from Naspers (MultiChoice DStv), VoD platforms refuse to provide figures on their revenue or traffic. It would be great if YouTube, the number one VoD platform in Africa, makes a little effort on this, otherwise it would be impossible to know the real size of this segment … and it is no coincidence that there are yet no leaks.
Meanwhile, linear TV continues to grow, particularly through DTT and the DTH via satellite. According to the latest data from Balancing Act, total subscriptions for legal pay-TV across Africa, is close to 17 million on the continent. The figure has increased this year, thanks in part to the launch of DTT – with a paid option, with nearly nine million customers, of which approximately 40% are paying customers. Three private ‘locomotives’ partly fund the African DTT market: Startimes, GoTV and Canal +.
This plethora of free and paid deals, suggests that competition is increasing to the benefit of citizens. Activity is expected to increase dramatically in the most dynamic and promising countries for the sector, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
Netflix, one of the largest SVOD service providers in the world, intends to launch services in over 200 markets worldwide by the end of next year. South Africa will be included in the deployment plan. Its service is already used in the country unofficially.
This is no longer the silent world of 10 years ago, though the sector is far from being transparent.
Source : BalancingAct Africa, November 23rd, 2015, translation by Mokolo