In August, Naspers announced it had created a new video unit for OTT service called Connected Video.
The Connected Video unit will run the Showmax and DStv Now services in South Africa, and will oversee development of new over-the-top services for the MultiChoice group.
The move is seen as a strong play to fight back against Netflix, which MultiChoice has said is a player affecting market share of its DStv products – particularly its Premium service.
Heading up the Connected Video unit is Niclas Ekdahl, who is its CEO.
Ekdahl has over 19 years of executive leadership experience in the audio-visual services industry. This includes heading up the pay-TV channel division for Viasat Broadcasting in London, said MultiChoice.
Ekdahl has also worked for Nuvu, a video-on-demand service launched by Ericsson in 2015.
To find out what plans Connected Video has, MyBroadband spoke to Ekdahl – with his answers to questions below.
How much room does Connected Video have to produce products that may compete against existing MultiChoice services?
As long as what we do is net additive to the customer base and makes financial sense, then we’re moving in the right direction.
My experience launching an OTT service from within a satellite TV operator in the Nordic region, where, incidentally, the proportion of homes with uncapped broadband is far higher than in South Africa, was that cannibalisation wasn’t an issue and instead we managed to grow the overall base.
What are the goals for Connected Video in the coming year?
Our fundamental priorities are, unsurprisingly, to add new customers and to help existing customers find more to watch.
To achieve that, we’re focusing on all aspects of the consumer journey: make it easier to sign up, improve content discovery, iron out usability issues, add new features and functionality, and, of course, critically assess the overall content offering.
We’re also working on understanding how people use our services and how we can expand the usage cases.
As an example, we see huge traffic spikes on DStv Now during big rugby and football matches, but don’t yet see major use of the Kids section. Is that down to a lack of awareness that there’s a PIN-protected section to keep downloaded kids shows in one place, or is it due to the wrong content, some kind of usability issue, or something else entirely?
What does Netflix do well that local streaming players can look to emulate?
There’s a lot that we can learn from Netflix’s interface in terms of simplifying content discovery.
But then again, our goal isn’t to be a Netflix clone. We’re playing our own game, which means leveraging our strengths in local content, in sport, and in local distribution.
We need to earn the right to compete so, yes, that means looking at what other services do, but it also means looking at what they aren’t doing.
Where, geographically, is Connected Video focusing initially?
Our ambition is for our services to be ubiquitous across Africa.
There’s lots of work we need to do to get there, and we need more telcos to come to the party with cheaper connectivity options, but we do think there’s a huge opportunity for paid OTT services across the continent.