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Video-on-Demand heats up in SA

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The arrival of a new Video-on-Demand service in South Africa last week added a new flavour to an intriguing marketplace, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When MTN announced last week it would shut down its video-on-demand (VOD) service, VU, just more than a year after Times Media lowered the curtain on a VOD service called Vidi, many assumed it was now a two-horse race between Naspers-owned ShowMax and the global giant Netflix.

But the news was barely cold when a new player unveiled its offering. An online service called Digital Entertainment on Demand (DEOD) has been launched by a VOD solutions provider, Discover Digital. They happen to be the same company that provided the platform for MTN’s VU, and would have learned a few lesson’s from MTN’s failure to set the market alight.

The key lessons are fairly obvious, though:

  • It requires massive marketing budgets or clever niche programming – or both – to go up against the vast offering of Netflix, even given the fact that it has a more limited catalogue than the original US service;
  • Without live sports, the bulk of the pay TV market remains firmly in the hands of Multichoice and its DStv bouquet – with Supersport still one of the best live sport services in the world;
  • The number of people with the kind of high-speed connectivity needed to watch high-definition video via the Internet is still tiny, relative to the scale needed to make such a service profitable.

Nevertheless, when the first inklings of Netflix’s arrival in South Africa surfaced, it became clear that DStv subscribers who were only watching movies and video series would be easy pickings for the US-based provider, which has single-handedly destroyed the video rental industry in the USA. As a result, Naspers decided to set up its own competitor, preferring to see customers jump ship to a sister company rather than to the competition.

ShowMax has worked hard to differentiate itself, with the largest South African movie and series catalogue available from any provider. However, this does not appear to have been an effective enough counter to Netflix’s secret weapon: the ability to bring its own high-quality productions to a global audience simultaneously.

But there is one market where it has made a massive impact through a keen understanding of local dynamics. In Kenya, it has achieved instant success, partly through adopting the same local content strategy in South Africa. But the most important factor in its success is its understanding of the local dynamics of the economy.

It has allowed viewers to subscribe via M-PESA, the Kenyan-born mobile money service that has transformed payments in East Africa. Users can also purchase a single movie at a time, making it the most affordable as well as accessible VOD service in Africa.

Into this stormy mix, in the past week, DEOD made its entry.

It offers a standard selection of rental and subscription movie and video series content, but has added two elements that give it more of a YouTube than a Netflix feel.

The first is a news service that includes most major news channels from around the world. Since viewers tend to stick to one or two news sources, this one is unlikely to have the competition sit up and take notice. The second new element however, is a potential winner.

A Sports Pack gives access to a range of popular niche sports that have been largely ignored by mainstream TV, with the aim of giving sports participants, sporting bodies and sponsors exposure. It includes no less than five niche channels:

* Channel Edge HD – an extreme sports bouquet;

* Fightbox HD – covering all forms of fighting and martial arts;

* Motorvision TV – an automotive and motorsport channel;

* Nautical channel – for sailing and boating enthusiasts;

* Sportskool – a tuition based channel with instructional sports content.

“The new DEOD sports offering is just the first of a broader range of Discover Digital on-demand services set to propel South African niche sports into the limelight,” says Discover Digital managing director Stephen Watson.

“There are probably 40 or more sports in South Africa that have thousands of participants, national championships and even international competitions, which do not enjoy airtime on traditional TV in South Africa.

“Via the DEOD sports desk, they now have an opportunity to secure coverage of their events among local fans. We also have the capacity to help sporting bodies stream, package and archive their events on any number of digital platforms for a broader international audience, which allows their sponsors to gain more exposure, better monetise their events, and showcase their participants.”

These include sports like women’s hockey, SuperGP, mountain biking, surfing, gymnastics, tennis, netball, water sports and boxing, along with school leagues and tournaments with large followings.

Discover Digital plans to send its own experienced production team to help schools and sports bodies learn how to record, stream, archive and monetise their own content.

It is an open secret that no one can compete with DStv for the rights to major sports leagues and events. But in that very strategy lurks the massive gap that DEOD has spotted: the content Multichoice doesn’t want, but that tens of thousands of viewers do.

 

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

The cost of catching DEOD

DEOD app: free to download for Android (from Play Store) and IOS (App Store).

Rent a single movie: R18

On Demand – All movies, series, music: R79 a month

All News channels: R49 a month

All sports channels: R99 a month

News + On demand: R99 a month

Sports + On Demand: R159

Five devices are allowed to access each subscription. All titles are initially available in Standard Definition. Later, DEOD will introduce Chromecast and Airplay support, along with Smart TV apps for all TV brands, and High-Definition will then be enabled.

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AppDate: Reserve Bank to choose fintech winner

This week, SEAN BACHER highlights the Global Fintech Hackcelerator, Fortnite’s skin for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Standard Bank and iiDENTIFii’s partnership, WRAPP and Zulzi’s latest expansion.

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Image by Andre Gunawan: Tech in Asia - https://www.techinasia.com

SARB to choose Global Fintech Hackcelerator winner

The South African Reserve Bank will host a Fintech Demo Day on 29 October 2019 to select two winners from 12 innovative and sustainable fintech solutions shortlisted for the Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa.

In August, SARB joined forces with KPMG Matchi to run the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa, an acceleration programme that creates a platform for fintech firms to demonstrate their innovative solutions to complex financial challenges in the Southern African region. Fintech firms from all over the world were invited to submit an application in response to problem statements constructed in collaboration with SARB. 

The regional hackcelerator received 95 entries from interested fintech firms located across the globe.  The 12 shortlisted respondents will showcase their solutions at the Fintech Demo Day at the end of this month in Johannesburg. 

Each Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa 2019 winner will receive the following:

  • A stipend towards travel expenses to attend the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival
  • An opportunity to pitch their solution live during the Hackcelerator Demo Day at the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival and engage with industry experts
  • Funding to develop a contextualised proof of concept, to be deployed within a year from the demo day
  • An opportunity to work with high-value corporates to contextualise a solution to their needs, while obtaining market entry into the Singapore and Asia-Pacific region.

The top three winners at the Singapore Fintech Festival will each receive a cash prize.

For more information on the Global Fintech Hackcelerator click here.

Click here to read about a Fortnite exclusive for Samsung Galaxy Note 10 users, and Standard Bank’s new way of identifying its customers.

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PC market grows again

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Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, reached 70.4 million units in the third quarter of 2019 (3Q19), according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. Demand in the commercial segment combined with trade tensions between the United States and China to drive the market forward, resulting in a second consecutive quarter of growth with shipments increasing by 3% over the third quarter of 2018.

Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, says: “With higher tariffs on the horizon PC makers once again began to push additional inventory during the quarter though the process was a bit more difficult as many faced supply constraints from Intel, leaving AMD with more room to grow. The trade tensions are also leading to changes in the supply chain as most notebook manufacturers are now prepared to move production to other countries in Asia, such as Taiwan and Vietnam.”

“Commercial demand should accelerate as enterprises work through the remainder of their Windows 10 migration,” says Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “The number of months until the end of service (EOS) date of Windows 7 can be counted on one hand. With January 14, 2020 drawing nigh, the commercial market should be able to digest the extra inventory over the next several quarters. Supply constraints may loom in subsequent quarters, so excess may not be a bad position for channel inventory through the remainder of the year.”

Regional Highlights

Traditional PC shipments in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) posted a year-over-year decline but the market performed above expectations. Back-to-school demand drove the consumer market in China, while online sales and preparations for the Diwali festive season supported consumer shipments in India, as two of the largest countries in the region surpassed the previous forecast. Meanwhile, the commercial market in China recorded a decline in line with expectations, impacted by macroeconomic pressures.

Coming in slightly above forecast, the Canadian traditional PC market delivered its 13th consecutive quarter of growth. The market is becoming increasingly solidified as the top 5 vendors now capture more than 85% of all shipments.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the traditional PC market achieved stable growth in 3Q19 with both desktops and notebooks performing relatively well. A strong pipeline of deals ahead of the ongoing Windows 10 transition continued to translate into commercial strength, offsetting the softness in the consumer market and the overall negative impact of the component shortage.

In Japan, both the commercial and consumer markets largely outperformed forecast, driven by Windows 10 migration and the consumption tax increase respectively. Commercial shipments established a new third quarter record beating the mark set in 2013 when Windows XP EOS created similar momentum in the commercial PC market.

The traditional PC market in Latin America was very much in line with previous expectations of a 4.1% year-over-year decline. During this period desktop shipments were better than expected mainly due to the large enterprise segment and verticals such as banking, retail, and manufacturing. Notebook shipments also declined during the quarter due to a weak consumer market and delays in some education deals.

The United States saw low single-digit growth in the third quarter with both desktop and notebooks seeing continued year-over-year growth. Inventory pull-in continued to be supported by Windows 7 EOS and continued tensions in the trade war. As most List 4 tariffs have been delayed until the end of the year, inventory pull-in overall was slightly weaker compared to the previous quarter. According to a recent survey among IT decision makers in the USA, more than 60% of businesses have transitioned their Windows-deployed PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Another 13% plan to do so by the Windows EOS date in January 2020.

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