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Balancing Act: “VoD adoption will grow across Africa”

Sylvain Beletre Associate editor and senior research analyst Balancing Act

Sylvain Beletre
Associate editor and senior research analyst Balancing Act

Well, AfricaCast is almost upon us. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty, and talk VoD with Sylvain Béletre , associate editor and senior research analyst at Balancing Act. Béletre couldn’t be better qualified to comment. His current research in Telecoms include fixed, wireless, internet, Vsat and specific ICT solutions across several African countries. His past research in the African audiovisual sector has included technologies, piracy and advertising, and he has more than fourteen years experience in international research and consultation.

Why and when do you believe VoD adoption will grow across Africa?

Since 2000 in the West, VoD has been a key driver in attracting clients to ADSL and cable services. VoD in all its forms is now a major audiovisual segment in the Western and Asian consumer market. There is no reason why VoD services should not rise on the African continent. The effect of economic growth factors across Africa is providing increased disposable income to the general population. In Africa today, 16% of people are using the Internet – about 160 million people – and this number is rising fast. The ITU reported that the households Internet penetration’s annual growth, over 2009 to 2013 equates to 27%.

The ability to watch a film from any device anywhere at anytime is a luxury that VoD provides. With multimedia digital convergence landing across Africa, the multiplication of TV channels over the past 10 years, and better access to the Broadband internet, TV viewers are asking for more than traditional linear service. They increasingly also want to manage their viewing time.

The emerging market for the African audiovisual sector is online. There are some new opportunities for telecoms operators to introduce video services that have historically not been possible due to limited broadband internet capacity and high consumer device prices (e.g. tablets, smartphones, TV sets). Today, major telecoms service providers and digital device manufacturers present in Africa are working on rolling out VoD platforms. YouTube’s traffic across Africa already shows that there is an audience for online video streaming.

Who will drive the uptake of VoD services?

The VoD ecosystem involves VoD service providers, African TV broadcasters, telcos, satellite carriers, and of course producers/ content distributors/ rights’ holders.

We have produced a review of existing VoD services related to Africa, with their challenges and opportunities in 2013. We have identified 20 VoD players offering Africa-related content, competing with the multitude of international online VoD platforms. We have classified those VoD providers with specific differentiators in terms of content catalogue, business models and technology.

Where will VoD usage happen first in Africa?

North Africa, South Africa and Nigeria are the largest markets and VoD usage is already taking off there. Areas that have the largest populations, more affordable access to Broadband internet services and to pay-TV networks will pick up first. The trend will spread from urban towards rural areas.

Which VoD services will take off and how will it take place?

Building a rich catalogue with popular video content and marketing VoD services is an expensive business, so VoD players which partner with telecoms service providers and digital device manufacturers are likely to win more audience. But there are many factors that need to be fulfilled before a VoD service gets popular.

Why should Africa telecom service providers be introducing VoD services to their customers ?

We have identified 10 main reasons, including the need to attract new market segments, increase subscription revenues and combat the competition.

Sylvain Béletre will be speaking at this year’s AfricaCast (Cape Town, November 12 – 14), the region’s premier show on the future of broadcasting. For booking and more info go here.

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