Categories: Media

Britbox is coming to South Africa, all Zimbabweans can do is enviously look on

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The popular British streaming service Britbox is coming to South Africa soon. This bit of exciting news was revealed by ITV network one of the founding partners of the streaming service. Britbox is a joint venture between ITV and the BBC focused on providing a convenient streaming platform for popular British shows created by British public broadcasters.

Why is Britbox awesome

When I was a wee lad, ZBC used to have cordial relationships with Western Broadcasters. We would have CNN news coverage at lunch and British shows would grace our screens in the evening. Quintessential productions like Keeping up Appearances have a beguiling charm to them that has a way of turning one into an Anglophile.

Before you know it, you would have developed a taste for British dramas that never goes away. Our political relations with the West have sort of soured, to say the least, and not many people drink tea and biscuits late in the afternoon anymore but for me, that itch for dramas never went away.

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I occasionally scratch it with ITV and BBC crime dramas. Unlike American crime TV shows that seem hurried crime in the shire sometimes takes a whole series (the equivalent of a season) in order to be solved. There is less use of omnipotent hackers that bedazzle us with their typing skills and meaningless lines of code on the screen with more time given to actual police work. Like our own police, most constables and detectives don’t carry guns and so they don’t go around threatening to shoot anyone and everything. Attorneys are called solicitors and are less boisterous than their peers from across the pond.

Don’t believe me? Try shows like Bancroft, Luther, McMafia, Broadchurch and Marcela and get back to me. Tell me what do the Americans have to compare with Vera?

South Africans getting on the fun

Sometimes I don’t even understand how content providers come up with some of their strategies. This is like the umpteenth service that has opened itself up to South Africa while leaving the rest of the region in the cold.

Those folks down South already have all the good stuff:

  • Spotify came to South Africa in 2018
  • Amazon Prime is there too
  • Want Apple TV+? It’s available too
  • YouTube Premium? Yes it’s there too.

As if that’s not enough they also pay less for DStv, like way less than us too. They don’t even need USD to make all these payments. Providers take Rands never mind that the Rand is very unstable compared to even our own ZWL. The Rand is practically the king of volatility.

I am well aware content providers have have divided the world into regions to make the distribution of content easier but the thing is that Zimbabwe is in South Africa’s domain. We are practically the same content region and all the provider needs to do is just flip a switch and Zimbabweans will be in the fun too. Even if they make us pay using Visa/MasterCard at least we will have the option.

ZBC can learn something from British broadcasters

Before I sign off I cannot resist taking a parting shot at our own public broadcasters. They are part of the reason why we are missing out on good things. The way UK public broadcasters run their stations is admirable. For starters, there is balanced coverage and that alone means the broadcasters always receive much needed public support from the public. People pay their monthly licence fees without whining about partisan coverage.

Then there is general governance. Information about how much money is raised through licences and how it’s spent is freely published each month. Not only that these stations are run on a commercial basis with the board actively looking for ways to raise funds without just waiting for funding form the government and taxpayers.

One such good initiative is BritBox. ZBC hasn’t been very prolific when it comes to making original shows but they do have some shows that some people. If only for nostalgic reasons would be interested in watching. The corporation could make a streaming platform of its own and offer its own VoD service. They could even pay for content such as Mudiwa WepaMoyo and offer it exclusively through their platform instead of waiting for handouts.

Such an initiative would not only bring income but who knows it might rehabilitate the entity’s tarnished brand among the middle class. The middle class is where the money is even advertisers know that. The rural population might be big but they don’t spend much.

Back to Britbox

So BritBox huh? Looks like it’s just going to be one of those many things we are not going to enjoy locally. Guess I will just keep using my SmartDNS service then.


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  • I don't think South Africans appreciate British drama and comedies like we do!. I wonder if ZTV will ever upgrade to FHD?

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    • FHD might not happen this century. Those in power don't see it as a priority. To them ZBC is a tool rather than a Media company

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  • 1) ZTV creates YouTube channel
    2) Uploads all the music videos we used to watch on Ezomgido
    3) Monetize channel
    4) Millions of views of the original Mai waDhikondo video alone within days.
    5) Make a gazillion bucks and use them to upgrade service offering.

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    • They would probably land in trouble for doing that unless they obtain the rights for the music which honestly isn't too hard and probably not too expensive. ZTN has already shown them the way to do this but ZBC is stuck in the past century

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Garikai Dzoma

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