With the expected launch of its video on demand service this week in South Africa, Bloomberg reports that MultiChoice owner, Naspers will be making efforts to launch mobile VOD in partnership with Vodacom through ShowMax, the name of the new venture.
The mobile service will be offered initially to some 1 million landline broadband users with a target to prioritise mobile as the primary channel within three years time across other markets in Africa. Yes, South Africa has such numbers on landlines.
Gearing up for this expansion, through various studios Naspers has upped production of African content in order to penetrate the Kenya and Nigeria region and to offer serious competition to NetFlix. In addition, it is investing in mobile applications that will enable the delivery of video content to mobile.
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Experts estimate a data boom of up to 17 times in the next five years and ShowMax could be targeting this perceived market in addition to consolidating MultiChoice offerings. This is despite the current difficulties with various other startup VOD providers who have folded.
NetFlix, which currently has 66 million customers in about 50 countries, is planning massive expansion to about 200 countries, including in Africa, by the end of 2016.
Either ShowMax chose the wrong time to launch as it will be muscled out by the Netflix dominance, or Naspers is banking on its familiarity with the market to increase its 6 million viewer presence on a mobile platform that is not just another MultiChoice version. By the end of 2016 we should have a clearer viewer of the prospects of ShowMax in Africa.