2017 saw the launch of several new streaming video services in South Africa including Black, DEOD, Kwesé Play, and LIT TV.
Much like VU, DEOD offers subscription video on demand services and movie rentals. It also has a range of live streaming TV channels.
Where DEOD was the first new streaming video service to launch in South Africa in 2017, Black from Cell C was the last of the year.
With Black, Cell C hopes to launch an entertainment brand which exists separately from its cellular services.
The Black portal contains sports betting, games, and event ticketing services, but its main feature at launch was its on-demand video platform.
Like DEOD, Black offers several different types of video services collected in a variety of bundles.
These include a movie rental service, subscription video on demand through “Flexi” packages, and live TV channel streaming through BTV and football club channels such as Chelsea and Manchester United TV.
Cell C has also concluded a deal with Fox to offer its bouquet of channels to the African market for R99 per month. Content from Fox’s on-demand service, Fox NOW, will also be coming to Black in the future.
Setting itself apart from similar services, Cell C has launched an Android-based media device called blackBOX, which subscribers can connect to a TV via HDMI.
While Discover Digital and Cell C launched their own video entertainment platforms based on their own content licensing deals, Econet Media and Telkom have taken a different route.
Netflix in South Africa
Rather than building their own streaming services, the pair of African telecommunications giants have instead decided to offer easier access to existing services.
Econet, through its subsidiary Kwesé, inked deals with Roku and Netflix to become their official partners in Africa, and launch Kwesé Play.
It sells a Kwesé-branded Roku media player with access to several channels and services. This includes integrated billing for Netflix, allowing South Africans to pay for the streaming service in rand rather than US dollar.
Telkom launched a suite of products under the “LIT” brand — LIT Music, LIT Video, and LIT TV.
LIT Video is available to FreeMe contract subscribers on 5GB packages and greater and offers free streaming from services such as Netflix and Showmax, under a fair usage policy of 50GB per month.
LIT TV is a value-added service available to Telkom contract subscribers who take up specific fixed services. Clients on HomeUnlimited 8/10Mbps and greater, as well as SmartWireless 50GB receive a Telkom LIT TV media box.
At launch, Telkom’s Google-certified Android TV box was able to access YouTube and Showmax, with plans to support Netflix in the works.
Choose your own channels
A frequent request from pay-TV subscribers is the ability to choose their own channels, or simply more granular control over what they spend their subscription fees on.
DStv has said that allowing subscribers to choose their own channels would be technically challenging the way its systems are currently configured, and warned that it could make pay-TV more expensive for fewer channels.
However, with DEOD and Black added to South Africa’s streaming video landscape, along with platforms like LIT and Kwesé Play that support existing popular services, 2017 was the year that choosing your own channels in South African started becoming a reality.
South Africans now have a choice of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for a mix of licensed and original international content, as well as Showmax for local shows and content from MultiChoice-licensed networks like HBO and Comedy Central.
Standalone live TV streaming services have also become available in South Africa thanks to Black and DEOD.
As far as entertainment content is concerned, competition in South Africa has heated up and broadband subscribers now have a solid selection of platforms to choose from.
Premium sports remains the domain of SuperSport however, and requires a DStv subscription whether you are using a satellite decoder or streaming content through the DStv Now app on your Telkom LIT TV box.