ONTAPtv VOD service launch in SA displays strategy built for the rest of Africa

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
VOD Services, Pay TV, PCCW Global

As far as video content and digital media are concerned, 2015 is going to be remembered as a significant year for African Video On Demand (VOD) services. There has always been some activity going on this space, but thanks to the evolution of content consumption trends (and Netflix) a lot of attention was on the market, specifically in South Africa, where pay TV has always been a major focus.

Now, another new VOD Service that has been introduced there – ONTAPtv. Launched as part of Hong Kong Telecoms’ giant HKT through its global subsidiary PCCW Global, ONTAPtv is billed as South Africa’s first à la Carte VOD Service.

According to information released by the company, ONTAPtv has a content library of over 2,500 movies and series, and it offers packages that start from R39 for an African content package, with R69 for the standard packages, R79 for package combos and R89 for the Mega package.

Judging from aspects of its business model, there’s a very clear intent to address lower-income markets being made by ONTAPtv here. Besides the lower prices for its packages, the ONTAPtv service also allows for downloading of its content on Android and iOS devices, something which will accommodate users without fixed internet facilities for streaming.

All this has been paired with an arrangement with South African public WiFi provider, AlwaysOn to deliver data packages for data which include a R29 for 15 GB offer and a 50 GB for R59.

ONTAPtv might have been launched for South Africa, but there are a lot of aspects around this service that point to changes in the VOD business model which can be considered for the rest of the African market.

Our common continental pain point for VOD, streaming and other content services is the high cost of data.  Though constant adjustments in the market have resulted in the cost of broadband being revised downwards (something which we have also experienced in Zimbabwe), the average consumer of content is still finicky about accessing content over the internet.

Most internet connections are on mobile devices, which ropes in mobile broadband and its steep prices, so the result  is a market represented by users that are not willing to access the internet for anything that might require significant data.

In the Zimbabwean context, all this has contributed to the resilience of offline services like DVD which, in their own way, represent an “on-demand” approach of sorts. Through the integration of the content download feature, (a strategy which has already been adopted by other African VOD powerhouses like iROKO and considered by another South African VOD service, ShowMax) and the partnerships with WIFi distributors, ONTAPtv is zeroing in on data costs and the prevalence of mobile devices as the most common access points for the internet.

As much as that has been earmarked for the South African market, it has a fit in the rest of Africa. In Zimbabwe, that sort of approach could work, assuming that the VOD provider is willing to identify and craft the right sort of partnerships with public WiFi service providers.

The more aggressive public WiFi providers, TelOne and ZOL come to mind here. Perhaps other VOD services might want to approach the internet cost challenge for that angle, or as has been shown by PCCW, the providers of internet services themselves can dabble in content delivery.

image credit htxt.co.za


  1. G

    how does the downloading work, is it download in app or i can download to my own storage device. coz if it is the latter it means i can download to m pc & exchange with friends

    1. Nigel Gambanga

      Yes, it’s app specific, Android and iOS are the OSes catered for. As such, the download feature is not enabled for PC. The content is only accessible for 48 hours after the download.

  2. Khal Drogo

    They (ONTAPtv) should lure the S.A government in order to block movie torrents site, so that the populace will adopt to use VOD.

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