South Africa’s state broadcaster might be struggling to make people pay for the licence fees just like ZBC but it seems this is where the similarities end. While our own broadcaster has been a perennial disappointment that makes promises that it cannot keep, SABC has made some noteworthy achievements. Not only are they on track with their digitisation program it seems they are planning to launch their own Video on Demand platform soon.
We have underinvested on technology and content. The board has approved a digital strategy that will see an over-the-top (OTT) platform of the SABC being launched. There’s going to be a tender – management is dealing with it – I’m sure before the end of this current financial year there’s going to be an OTT platform that will allow us to monetise and commercialise all the content that we have because currently, we are relying on other platformsBongumusa Makhathini, Board Chairperson, SABC
It is always sobering to hear such honest self-assement from a state owned enterprise. It’s something that is rare this side of the boarder where we are used to lies, excuses, propaganda and shameless self-praise when modest goals are achieved. It’s even remarkable when you consider SABC has achieved over the years. They have six TV channels (we have had one for years) that broadcast balanced and stellar content including news as well as a staggering 19 radio stations. Recently they even signed a deal with ESPN while we are content to show YouTube clips on national TV.
SABC has not choice
While the government and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) have worked hard to protect ZBC’s monopoly in Zimbabwe, the South African operating environment has been naturally open. Recently OpenView HD the guys behind eTV recently launched their own video on demand platform. Multichoice already has ShowMax and DStv Now.
With such stiff competition SABC has no choice but to keep abreast with the competition otherwise they risk getting left behind. It will be interesting to see how their platform plays out and how it will operate. It will probably be much like iPlayer, SBS and TVNZ in a lot of ways. These players have shown that even a state owned video on demand platform can thrive.