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SABC to launch streaming service next year

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South African Broadcasting Corporation (aka SABC) has announced that they are launching a Netflix/Showmax-like streaming service of their own in 2021.

The SABC can confirm that it is planning to launch its video and audio streaming services in line with the ever-changing industry trends and consumer needs. At this stage, the SABC is not in a position to provide more detail, due to the commercial sensitivity of the information.

Mmoni Seapolelo – SABC Spokesperson

The inner-workings of the streaming service have yet to been revealed but from what has been shared thus far it’s being suggested SABCs video-on-demand service will work similarly to BBCs iPlayer.

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iPlayer’s site notes that all programs broadcasted on the BBC are available on iPlayer shortly after airing and then there are some older shows and some live/exclusive shows only offered online.

Some of SABCs streaming content will reportedly be offered freely whilst most of the library will reportedly be accessible behind a paywall. Free content will be limited whilst paid content will be accessible to people who have a TV licence – at least this is what is expected at the moment.

SABC is launching the video on demand service to keep up with competitors such as DStv and also in response to “industry needs”. Because consumers are using different devices (phones, TVs and laptops etc) to watch content SABC has to also move to support those devices.

The SA streaming landscape

SABC’s impending entry into the space will be interesting. With OpenView also working on a video streaming service for its eTV channels, and the existence of Showmax along with foreign entities such as Netflix and Amazon – the VoD field is certainly getting competitive.

Making it mandatory to pay TV licence fees!

Statistics indicate that only 1/3 of South Africans TV households pay for their TV licences. This means SABC is missing out on 2/3 of revenue and that’s something they want to rectify. Interestingly, instead of ensuring they collect from these households, SABC wants to start collecting TV licences from devices that aren’t TVs at all;

We are not only looking into TV we also have other platforms where people consume content and all those areas are where we are looking at where we can get TV licence fees from those gadgets.

Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana

It’s certainly an interesting strategy and I’ll be surprised if something of that sort is even approved – from a competitive aspect. Especially when you consider that a lot of SABCs streaming competitors will sit on the same devices they want to tax.

In the UK people are mandated to buy TV licences to watch programmes online as well so maybe this isn’t as odd as it sounds. In the UK one must have a licence whenever they watch Live TV whether it’s on a TV or not and SA might go down the same path. There will of course be people who will resist the proposed change so it will be interesting to see if it actually put into effect.


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