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Cell C goes black with Video on Demand

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Cell C has launched its black entertainment platform offering kids’ entertainment, video-on-demand and live TV.

Cell C has launched an entertainment platform called black, that it says is “flexible, affordable and brings everything together in one place.

Launching on 14 November, it offers sports, kids’ entertainment, video-on-demand and live TV, with both local and international content. It will include live streaming of five top European football club channels, and services like sports betting and hotel bookings.

“black is an interactive ecosystem that will give customers an array of choice in a single environment; they won’t need to go anywhere else for content,” says Cell C. It is being brought to consumers as a new division within Cell C, focused on delivering entertainment and content. However, it is network agnostic, meaning it will be available to any consumer with an Internet connection from as little as R5 a day.

“Cell C is a business that constantly pushes the bar by bringing to customers the services they want at an incredibly affordable price,” says Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos. “Content services around the world are growing as fast as mobile did in its early days and true to Cell C’s form we are embracing content by bringing black to South Africans.”

Around the world, on-demand content is growing at incredible rates, with international research from Nielson showing that almost two-thirds of the global population watching some form of on-demand content.

“In comparison, the same content is only being served to one-fifth of African viewers,” says Dos Santos. “We know that the pricing and flexibility of black will change that. “

At launch, customers will be able to access a video-on-demand offering that will include up to 5 000 movies, series, music and documentaries, which will include both international and local content.

They will be able to access 60 live TV channels, which include music, news, travel and lifestyle, movies and children’s content. black has also secured the rights to five European football TV channels, namely MANU TV, BARCA TV, LIVERPOOL TV, CHELSEA TV and REAL MADRID TV. Football fans can access behind the scenes footage, interviews with players, games and much more content specific to each football club.

Customers will be able to purchase or rent the latest movies “before any other service in South Africa at an incredible price point”, says Cell C. These movies will also be available for download for offline viewing.

Subscribers will get to binge-watch new seasons of TV shows like Mary Kills People, Catastrophe, Power, High Rollers, Generations, Skeem Saam, Uzalo, and Survivor’s Remorse – as well as catch up on previous seasons.

Says Dos Santos: “We are also in discussions with local production companies to bring South African fans top local content and provide a platform for local talent to showcase their work. We have already started work in that arena with the launch of two Cell C originals in last year’s award-winning Break the Net on our Reality App and this year’s Hangman, which is currently flighting on eTV.”

black will offer many features, including parental control, so kids can watch in a secure and controlled environment, scheduled downloads to save on data costs, recommendations based on total family viewing, up to 48 hours look-back on BTV channels so that customers can catch-up on what they have missed, rent or buy a movie without subscribing to a contract, giving easy access, flexible packages, and access to up to 5 devices, two of which can be watched simultaneously.

The platform that brings black to consumers is being deployed as an ecosystem where customers will have not only access to incredible content, but a host of additional services.  It will offer gaming, travel and hotel booking services, sports betting through Cell C’s partnership with ClickaBet, and other services.

Customers will be able to choose which live TV channels they want to watch and when; they will have a choice of daily, weekly, weekend or monthly subscriptions.

“This really opens the market to more South Africans looking for content, providing affordable and relevant content to those that have not had access to it before,” says Dos Santos.

Services can be purchased using vouchers as well as debit and credit cards.  And as a first in South Africa, Cell C subscribers will be able to pay for any of these services using Prepaid airtime.

At launch, consumers can watch and engage with black by downloading the black Android & iOS apps, using a tablet or phone. It will also available on a web interface at www.black.co.za.

What does it cost?

BUYblack will allow customers to purchase the latest blockbuster movies, fresh from the big screen, earlier than ever before and from as little as R59. These are then owned by the customer to watch as many times as they like.

RENTblack will enable customer to rent the greatest movies and similar to BUYblack the latest releases from R29. Customers will have access to the movie for 48 hours from rental.

FLEXIblack will have hundreds of hours of local and international movies, series, music, documentaries and so much more. FLEXI Access will cost from R10 per day up to R39 per month. FLEXI Premium, which will offer a wider selection, can be purchased at R39 per day up to R99 per month at launch.

BTV, with more than 60 included channels, will offer BTV Premium for R189 per month and BTV Access, which includes 18 channels, at R69 per month.

As a separate subscription option, customers will be able to access five exclusive European football TV channels available individually from R5 a day to R25 per month.

PLAYblack will offer unlimited games from R5 per day.

* Visit www.black.co.za to see all the options available. 

Arts and Entertainment

Solo movie finds its feet

Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a great film if you know enough about the Star Wars universe and not so much if you’re not well acquainted with it, making it one of the less successful additions to the franchise, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is the most enjoyable Star Wars prequels yet. The film starts in the time when Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) lived in Corellia with one of the Star Wars universe’s newest characters, Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke): she is introduced kissing Han in the first few minutes of the film. The film starts with some jokes that don’t land too well, but it quickly finds its feet in the first 10 minutes or so.

There has been some online skepticism about whether Ehrenreich could fill Harrison Ford’s Han Solo boots. He did an amazing job. The way Ehrenreich holds himself, the way he speaks, and his general character, is a perfect representation of how Solo should be: young, full of life, and hungry for justice. Solo explains how Han gets to become one of the best pilots in the universe, despite all the challenges he faces. 

It’s a great struggle story of a nobody from Corellia finding his way in the Star Wars universe. That being said, the movie has a lot more to it than just Han finding his way.

The tale begins when Han and Qi’Ra get separated, forcing him to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot alone. He is quickly led into the pits of battle, where he meets bandits and a 196-year-old (!) Wookie named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). He makes friends with the bandits and his new Wookie friend to become an intergalactic looter of a rare and expensive power source, coaxium. Along the way, Han needs help from Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

Qi’Ra’s initial appearance in Solo asserts her as one of the strongest female leads since Princess Leia. Her strong screen presence leaves one hanging onto her every word, especially when she appears later in the film. In her time alone away from Han, she mentions she learned a bit of Teras Kasi, one of the strongest form of hand-to-hand combat in the Star Wars universe. 

The great thing about this moment is that Teras Kasi has never been mentioned in any Star Wars film and was only referenced a few times in the 1997 PlayStation 1 game, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. This is one of the greatest, and most under-appreciated, Star Wars tie-in moments in the film.

Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) pushes the limits of defining relationships in the Star Wars universe by having a love interest in a robot, L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Solo’s writers have revealed (in a Huffington Post interview) that Lando’s character is pansexual, which can be noted from Lando flirting with anyone (and anything, if we’re not calling robots people) he meets. 

This is an extremely progressive move from the Star Wars writers, creatively expressing what is essentially a LGBT character in a science fiction universe. 

Overall, this Star Wars story is brilliant if you know enough about the Star Wars universe and less than brilliant if you’re not well acquainted with it. That being said, the box office force wasn’t exactly with Solo, which may be a sign of prequel fatigue. 

What should be next to save the Star Wars universe? Proper cool-off time before creating more Star Wars films, as we’ve seen one a year since 2015.

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Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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