It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for African Video on Demand (VOD Services). New players were born for Africa, some died, others from outside the continent expressed their interest in our market and existing ones revised their business models and strategies.
While all of this has been going on, we’ve been waiting for ipidi, Liquid Telecom’s VOD service to hit the market. ipidi has been in the works for at least one and half years now, and though Liquid Telecom has put its fingers in another VOD pie, its ipidi has piqued interest because of the fact that it is a service being spun by a fibre telecoms infrastructure entity.
For Liquid telecom, this represents a progression from its previous focus on just providing high-speed internet, but also harnessing its own capabilities to provide a slew of services.
So besides the constant droning about “ipidi coming soon”, what’s new and what can people expect when it lands in their neighbourhood?
According to an updated ipidi website, the VOD service will come with two options – ipidi flix and ipidi boxoffice. The ipidi flix alternative offers monthly access to TV shows and movies and ipidi has made claims of a growing library with “thousands of hours” of content.
ipidi boxoffice will be offering a movie rental service which operates much like the DStv Box Office instant rental service. Prices for both services haven’t been shared yet.
From all indications Liquid Telecom has secured partnerships with a diverse list of content producers that include Marvel, NBCUniversal, BBC, Lionsgate and Disney.
We sought clarification from Liquid Telecom on this information and yet to receive any communication.
ipidi will require an ipidi set top box and users can also download an app for viewing from mobile devices. The app is already available for download on Google Play, but access is for account holders only which meant we couldn’t check out its features though some screen shots from the play store gave some sort of glimpse.
There is an option to sign up for information on the service which, at the moment is a pre-registration that will be used to get back to interested subscribers when ipidi does enter their specific markets.
The rest of the information regarding the rollout of the service has outlined the fact that Liquid Telecom will be working with various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in various markets to rollout the service.
This dovetails with the extension of Liquid telecom Fibre to the Home services which have been introduced to different markets in the same way. Locally this will place ZOL Zimbabwe, its subsidiary, as the distributor though it’s not clear if other Zimbabwean ISPs will be accosted for a similar arrangement.
One statement on the website does point to a “persuasive” play from Liquid Telecom to get you to use its fibre service.
Although ipidi tv is cheaper via our ISP partners, coming soon, you’ll be able to get ipidi tv direct via our website, no matter which Internet Service Provider you use.
From what’s available so far, it looks like ipidi is ticking the right boxes for a competitive VOD service. However, the real deal maker will be a suitable price structure for the service which takes into account the cost of internet services in Africa.
If Liquid telecom nails that, it could be in a position to not only take on new players like Showmax and ONTAPtv but even disrupt Multichoice’s DStv.