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ShowMax brings VoD to Kenya with M-PESA

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ShowMax has recently launched two VoD packages in Kenya. The first offers a range of international and local content while the second, a mobile offering, is designed especially for the mobile market – offering data savings of up to 75%.

Subscription video on demand service ShowMax has launched a two-tier service in Kenya for watching TV shows and movies via the internet.

It is a first-of-its-kind video concept that directly addresses the needs of local internet TV consumers with two different tiers of service:

ShowMax Premium, priced at KSh 880 per month, has a full range of international and local content.

ShowMax Select, priced at KSh 330 per month, is a mobile-first, data optimised product that offers reduced data consumption with savings of up to 75%. It has a specific focus on local content, and is paid for using M-PESA. Kenya is the first country to have this second tier added to ShowMax, and the first major Video-on-Demand service that can be paid for via mobile money.

Both tiers allow subscribers to either stream content or to download up to 25 shows to watch offline. Downloaded content is valid for 30 days. Data usage is charged separately and works with a customer’s existing data bundles.

“We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions,” says ShowMax CEO John Kotsaftis. “Kenya has different needs and tastes to other countries and deserves something designed specifically for Kenyans. ShowMax is the first international internet TV service that’s priced in KSh and paid for using M-PESA. It’s the first to put strong emphasis on local content including having sports clips. It’s the first to be optimised for mobile usage, reducing data consumption by as much as 75%. And it’s the first to deliver all of this at an affordable price point.”

ShowMax features local favourites such as Real Househelps of Kawangware, Churchill Live, Auntie Boss, and Kona, as well as popular series and movies from Hollywood like Mr Robot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Blue Bloods, and The Good Wife.

Subscribers can choose from a number of different download video quality levels. Using the most data-efficient setting, downloading a 20-minute TV show will use approximately 80 MB. This means that a 7.5 GB data bundle would be enough for more than 90 episodes.

Said Kotsaftis: “Kenya has all the right ingredients: tech-savvy consumers, rapidly expanding internet connectivity, and an appetite for quality TV shows and movies. So why hasn’t internet TV taken off yet?

“It doesn’t matter how good your service is if you don’t first solve the data challenge for customers, particularly for the majority of people who rely on mobile internet. That’s why we designed data-saving features and the ability to download content into ShowMax from the outset. With these features and a strong focus on local content, we think ShowMax will finally crack the internet TV model in Kenya.”

Africa News

Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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