The Dawn of OTT-SVOD War

Epilogue

{ON} Tuesday 16 November 2015 at exactly seventeen hundred hours (17:00) ShowMax went live. It moved from behind the scenes of Internet SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) contested field that was occupied by Times Media Group’s VIDI and MTN’s FrontRow for quite some time to claim its stake in a burgeoning Over the top (OTT) content market. Following a bloody tripartite warfare for video On demand dominance, whether streamed or uploaded, witnessed in The Node Nadir Saga. By the conclusion of that chapter all stared in awe as Altech’s NODE caved in and grayed out into the recess of a distant memory

Though VIDI and FrontRow survived that epic battle they had now momentarily withdrawn internally to reassess their strategies. One thing for sure they lacked the muscles that lay behind the hull of Naspers’s ShowMax powered by the internet juice of MWEB. Netflix whose arrival in June 2016 accacerbated competition somewhat achieved nothing except to offer an alternative service and not wholly a replacement platform for subscribers who wanted anything other than what was available before its advent. True, it retained its existing illegitimate subscribers when it arrived, thumbing them to legitimacy, as it negotiated geography, but time would prove that within the African continent, south of the Sahara, it would be relegated to a minor competitor status. For Naspers, as it is its habit, by way of being offensive in order to defend its market share, had already teleported its latest warhead into the future – ShowMax, to smite all and sundry, ahead of the looming threat of competition that was Netflix or otherwise

Image source: http://businesstech.co.za/news/media/95969/vodacom-in-talks-with-naspers-over-showmax/
Image source: http://businesstech.co.za/news/media/95969/vodacom-in-talks-with-naspers-over-showmax/

At a certain point at the headquarters of Naspers, the company that owns Multichoice, which in turn owns DStv and MWEB, the Research and Development team might have sat down and observed with a keen interest at the recent developments with regard to Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) via the web. Perhaps during their observation they might have snickered at Times Media Group’s VIDI, sneered at MTNFrontRow and casted a dismissive look at Altech’S NODE. After all they would have felt that they had responded to these platforms a long time ago without a straining their coffers. For both VIDI and MTNFrontRow they had DStv BoxOffice and DStv Now and for Altech’s NODE they had DStv Catch Up and to top it all their myriad of DStv satellite television platform packages offered South Africa’s television staple dietary  – the free to air channels


»@t a certain point at the headquarters of Naspers, the company that owns Multichoice, which in turn owns DStv and MWEB, the Research and Development team might have sat down and observed with a keen interest at the recent developments with regard to Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) via the web«


So from a normal perspective there was no real pressing matter that compelled the giant from responding fully in the content streaming avenue of the so called OTT (over the top) content market. The reader just has to recall the closing stages of the epic battle for dominance over video on demand which took place at end of 2014. Besides, these platforms lacked what the giant had. The giant has a heritage behind it riding bareback on a tried and trusted brand, Mnet. This first pay television platform had kept evolving over three decades. Spewing an array of a chain of channels, Kyknet and, at the dawn of the second decade of the new century, the Mzansi Magic channels buffet to rope in the pseudo black middle class fraternity into the pay television service. We could go on and mention the international channels that Naspers’s Multichoice carries through its DStv platform but that will be stroking its ego to the maximum

It can be supposed that the only hurdle that held the giant back from entering the SVOD OTT market was that internet service in South Africa is expensive to the average person and streaming was not yet mainstream. Whether the announcement of Netflix to enter the African continent by 2016 jolted the giant out of its stupor or simply signaled that the ground was fertile enough for it to bring out the mother of all weapons, we would never know. However the SVOD OTT market sings a different tune presently as VIDI AND FrontRow have shown. Within its web of arsenals through its strong ties with MWEB Naspers can now respond in kind

The emergence of ShowMax is Naspers response and we do not have to dismiss that when it does arrive in whatever form it would be it would be a ready to serve meal. Besides competing with VIDI and FrontRow, ShowMax could become a cushion for the giant to retain its loyal customer base who might be thinking of migrating elsewhere. Think about DStv Now mobile app and the internet connected DStv Explora as probes in this area and you will come to agree that Naspers has been preparing gradually for its entry into this area for quite some time. Now these television platforms can fully be converted into proper props to erect Naspers presence in the Over The Top Subscription Video On Demand market

Later winter

17 August

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong

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