Wednesday, 28 November 2018

DStv Plans to Take on Netflix as Video-on-demand Increase in Africa

MultiChoice has formally declared its intention to make big changes to its video-on-demand offerings, including DStv Now, the streaming version of its satellite service, and new local content for its standalone VOD platform Showmax.

According to the newly appointed CEO of MultiChoice Africa Group’s Connected Video unit, Niclas Ekdahl, MultiChoice is working to make big user interface changes to DStv Now to make it easier and quicker for subscribers to surface relevant content. He mentioned that they were going to build video on demand that is really effortless for the end consumers.

“We are going to build video on demand that is really effortless for consumers,” he said. “We’re not there yet, and there is a long journey ahead of us, but we will get there.”

A key priority, Ekdahl said, is harnessing user data to deliver content to viewers that is “relevant on an individual basis”. He conceded that DStv Now is “a little too clunky” and that this “needs to be fixed” to ensure viewers can find what they want with the minimum hassle.

He reconfirmed the group’s plan to launch a “dishless”, or streaming-only, version of DStv next year, but declined to comment on the plans in this regard. At the moment, DStv Now is a value-added service for DStv satellite subscribers, but MultiChoice plans to make it a standalone product, too, in 2019.

He revealed that the dishless product would only be launched after the user experience has been refreshed.

Ekdahl said MultiChoice’s research suggests that so-called “over-the-top” (OTT) streaming services like Netflix are not yet undermining linear TV viewing habits. “It’s in addition to that,” he said.

He expects OTT viewing to develop most strongly on mobile devices, rather than on fixed-line broadband, where penetration will remain relatively low for the next five years. “For MultiChoice, that’s kind of cool, because cord-cutting on a mass scale is not there. But the OTT market will open up.”

There will be 10 million OTT subscriptions across sub-Saharan Africa by 2023, generating US$775-million in revenue. At the same time, however, the pay-TV market in the region will grow to 40.9 million subscriptions, up from 26.4 million in 2018, outstripping the volume growth in OTT subscriptions.

He said DStv Now has up to 250 000 daily active users on busy days. There is also lower churn among consumers who use both satellite and DStv Now.

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