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MTN shuts down VU streaming service

Remember MTN’s streaming service called Frontrow? We wrote about it here a few times after it launched. It launched at a time when suddenly it seemed everyone had woken up to streaming. MTN introduced Frontrow in December 2014, Naspers followed a few months later with ShowMax , and then soon after Strive Masiyiwa announced Kwese. The next month, Netflix launched in Africa.

Well, MTN is bowing out of this video streaming game. After relaunching the streaming service as VU last year, MTN is now shutting down the service.

The company announced in communication to customers today which Techzim received.

We regret to inform you that we’ll soon be saying farewell to MTN VU, Which we’ll be shutting on 3 May 2017.

Thank you for enjoying some of the world’s best entertainment with us.

The interesting thing is that the VOD service seemed to have everything set up to succeed. It had content from all six big Hollywood studios, along with programming from BBC Worldwide, Endemol and Freemantle and so on.

VU also enjoyed zero rating on one of South Africa’s largest mobile networks. MTN has at least 35% marketshare of South Africa’s mobile subscriptions. For potential customers not already on the MTN network, VU offered prices that were competitive in comparison to Netflix and ShowMax. R99 a month! All this should surely have counted for something.

Some of the answers lie in the fact that streaming wasn’t really an MTN product.

VU was powered by a media company called Discover Digital, which has since decided to launch its own streaming service. The new streaming service will be called Digital Entertainment On Demand (DEOD) and it’s launching just a day after VU shuts down. It’s not clear what caused this development between the two companies.

Whether Discover Digital has immediate plans to expand the streaming service beyond SA, is also something we’ll learn in the future.

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2 thoughts on “MTN shuts down VU streaming service

  1. That was a brave move by MTN to try and stream for mobile phones. It all comes down to how much people are willing to spend on such services and also if customers are willing to buy devices with streaming capabilities.

    Then you have to maintain the access network, considering the cost of standing a base, power requirements, then the need to keep other services going without disruptions, l would say you have to be getting goods margins to keep it going.

    Streaming on mobile devices is not that popular, even in Europe. One area where is was going to be make a difference was in-car entertainment. But looking at reality, to get a good streaming experience, ones needs atleast 3Mbps from the nearest whilst not moving.

    For a moving car, the realistic speed of a car travelling at 80km/h you get is around 400Kbps that is in a well signal covered area. This is the challenge which is killing the in-car streaming.

    Africa is still struggling with other issues to be spending money in droves for mobile entertainment. This should be a lesson to other ISPs who might have been considering the same route: do your home thoroughly.

  2. I was using VU for the past 9 months. It was so structured that it adjusted to the available bandwidth. Even without a bar of signal I could watch movies. I think the problem was on advertising. A lot of people didn’t know about this service.

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