Naspers, owner of DStv through MultiChoice, will unveil its competitor to Netflix on 19 August, speculation in the broadcasting industry suggests.
Sources told MyBroadband that Naspers has secretly been working on a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service, and is planning to launch it in August.
Speculation about the reveal started after a public relations company often used by MultiChoice sent out an invitation to an event about “the most innovative and exciting entertainment service” in South Africa.
Sources said Naspers aims to roll out quickly to large developing economies to beat Netflix to market in those regions.
Netflix announced at the start of 2015 that it will complete its international expansion strategy sooner than expected, and plans to have a global footprint by the end of 2016.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed its plans include South Africa.
Naspers therefore had to move quickly to take the fight to Netflix, which it did by acquiring a stake in Icflix through MultiChoice in April 2015.
Icflix is a UAE-based VOD platform offering on-demand video services to Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to offering Indian cinema (Bollywood), Arabic cinema (Jazwood), and Hollywood content, Icflix also announced this year that it had invested in studios to produce original content – as Netflix does.
Although the stake in Icflix was reportedly sold to MultiChoice and much of the development of Naspers’ SVOD service happened within MultiChoice, sources say that the operation was split off from the pay-TV operator and moved offshore for various business reasons.
According to sources, the Netflix competitor from Naspers is based out of the UAE and the Czech Republic, with its headquarters in Dubai.
John Kotsaftis, who became the CEO of DStv Digital Media after the merger of DStv Online and DStv Mobile, will head up the Naspers VOD venture from Dubai.
Though there will be sharing of resources between MultiChoice and Naspers’ VOD service, including expensive content rights and some staff, the two companies will compete against one another for subscribers in territories where they both operate.
Naspers and MultiChoice were not able to provide comment on the name of the service or the price of subscriptions at the time of publication.