Vodacom quietly kills off video streaming service

Vodacom has quietly pulled the plug on its on-demand video streaming service, Video Play.

MyBroadband learnt of the service’s shutdown from a disappointed Video Play user over the weekend.

The user sent a screenshot from the Video Play app with a notification informing customers that Vodacom would terminate the service at the end of June 2022.

“Please take note that as of 30 June 2022, this service will no longer be available,” the message stated.

“You can continue watching free videos on Video Play until such time. Thank you for your support,” it added.

The user called the decision “sad news”, as Vodacom had recently made the service free.

MyBroadband found the service’s Android and iOS mobile apps were no longer available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The Video Play website was also unavailable, presenting the visitor with an HTTP Error 403 Forbidden message.

MyBroadband asked Vodacom why the apps and website were unavailable but did not immediately receive feedback to our queries.

Screenshot informing Vodacom Video Play users of the service’s shutdown.

Vodacom launched the Video Play service in August 2015, initially offering only a handful of videos from eNCA, eTV, Urban Brew, and MobiTV.

The original app used spare network capacity to download and cache selected content during low-demand periods. This came at a reduced cost to the subscriber.

Customers had to buy a prepaid bundle of minutes within the app to use the service.

Vodacom later switched the service to a subscription-based model that offered daily, weekly, or monthly access to the catalogue for R25, R40, or R99, respectively.

According to Vodacom’s annual results for its 2018/2019 financial year, the service had racked up an impressive 869,000 active users by the end of March 2019.

It grew its library to include several big-ticket international movies and TV shows, at one point reaching 9,000 titles.

Notably, it was the first streaming service in South Africa to offer the Zack Snyder cut of The Justice League.

Another one bites the dust

Video Play is not the only local video streaming service from a mobile network operator to get axed, although it has lasted longer than its rivals.

MTN previously offered its VU subscription streaming service, initially launched as MTN FrontRow in December 2014.

It was initially available at a monthly price of R179 but reduced to R119 and then R99 to better compete with Showmax and Netflix.

VU was shut down in May 2017, less than two and a half years after launching, as it failed to gain much traction.

Cell C’s Black suffered a similar fate in December 2019, barely two years after it launched.

Initially punted as the operator’s vision for the “future of entertainment”, Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson later admitted launching the service as a potential contender to the likes of Netflix was “crazy”.

It cost the operator a monumental R1.5 billion, contributing significantly to its financial woes.

Telkom still offers its TelkomONE platform, which was launched as part of a collaboration with the SABC in November 2020.

The operator previously told MyBroadband that the service’s performance had exceeded its expectations.

MTN recently also teamed up with eMedia as the technology partner for its eVOD streaming service.

This allows its customers to pay for their eVOD subscription using MTN airtime.

Now read: DStv streaming app issues fixed — and new features subscribers can expect

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Vodacom quietly kills off video streaming service