So TelOne is finally launching their VoD (think Netflix) service. Back in June last year they had announced that they were ready for lift-off but at the last minute they scrapped those plans and went silent. After that disappearing act, it seems TelOne have finally got their house in order and they are ready for the public to access that service.
TelOne’s VOD service is being unveiled later on today but their late entry into this field means they are entering into a field that looks nothing like the one they would have moved into had they launched 16 months ago as they intended.
The players in this field…
TelOne probably didn’t anticipate Kwese’s and other players entry in this field as the government was ensuring that licences were only given out at a premium. Things have slowly shifted and after Kwese got awarded its licences BAZ’s iron fist has morphed into a puppies paw and they are giving out licences left, right and centre.
Iflix will be TelOne’s most formidable competitor right now as they have made a lot of noise locally and at this point they I think they have become more of a household name than streaming champion Netflix because of their closeness to the Econet brand.
Kwese iflix has done considerably well if you are to take what they themselves have said. The company made noise about their “million active” customers. Of course, this is a very optimistic outlook as we aren’t sure how much these one million customers are actually consuming. With that being said, getting a million people to sign up for the service is a first step and it shows that iflix has started on the right path, though issues such as data expenses ensure that VoD services are out of the reach of many.
Netflix is an option but unlike Kwese iflix it’s certainly not an option for the masses. Though it offers the best content of the streaming services we are looking at, users also have to pay for it via USDs. The data for streaming Netflix also puts it out of the reach of many. Iflix has data bundles that ensure that you can watch at a cheaper rate but with Netflix, there are no such bundles which means you would have to really monitor your viewing or else you could exhaust your internet data pretty quickly. Because of those two factors Netflix has kinda become the streaming service for the haves whilst the have-nots are left in the cold…
DStv has their own VoD service; Showmax. The service comes with some interesting South African series offerings (or at least that’s what people say) and are mixed with international content. Showmax has an advantage right now because Multichoice has a lot of exclusive content in the Sub-Saharan region (e.g Game of Thrones). Because of such deals and the local content thrown in there they can nab a piece of the market that wouldn’t necessarily be captured by the likes of Netflix and iflix who are mainly filled with content for westerners.
update: this article previously mentioned that Showmax is only available in South Africa, which was incorrect. Apologies for that mistake. Showmax is available in most countries that DStv operates in (including Zimbabwe).
Potential players in this space
Zimpapers TV Network is another offering which is operating online, but their focus seems to have shifted more towards becoming a news provider. Right now the Zimpapers TV website is not exactly great when it comes to a first impression. They seem to have become less of a VoD provider and they are now relying on their social media channels to provide content. Their YouTube channel is regularly updated.
AMH subsidiary Heart and Soul Broadcasting also recently got their licence and they promised to be entering the market with an emphasis on local content so they will definitely be one to watch. It seems they understand the limitations of securing content and they will offer something with a twist. I think there are many who think our content is not of the highest grade but similar thoughts were shared when it came to genres such as Zim dancehall and only after the musicians were given a chance did it become clear that they had enthralling stories to tell.
I have been going crazy with the new Soul Jah Love album and it would be great if I could also get an opportunity to get a locally produced series to similarly catch my attention.