South Africa launches free streaming service

Sentech has announced the launch of Freevision Play, an over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platform designed to provide South African residents free access to various local TV and radio channels.

The state-owned signal distributor first announced its plans for South Africans to stream television content online over ten years ago, in April 2013.

The Freevision Play platform is available to all South African residents with an active Internet connection and is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

Those wanting to access the service can download the Freevision Play app from their respective app store or visit the Freevision Play website.

Sentech notes that many of the country’s residents still face barriers to accessing quality content and accurate information.

“Freevision Play addresses this challenge by leveraging broadband infrastructure to deliver free, high-quality content to all communities,” says Sentech.

“This platform empowers users with access to educational, informational, and entertainment content, thereby fostering learning and engagement across the nation.”

It will also benefit local broadcasters by allowing them to reach a broader audience without paying the high costs associated with developing and operating their own OTT platforms.

This can help them to expand viewership and generate additional advertising revenue.

“Freevision Play takes care of the upfront investment costs,” says Sentech.

“It creates a multitenant platform, giving viewers and listeners a diverse range of choices while providing broadcasters with new audiences and viewers.”

Currently, it offers channels like KZN TV, Cape Town TV, Soweto TV, Tshwane TV,, and a dedicated stream for the Presidential Inauguration.

The maximum viewing resolution varies per channel, with the Presidential Inauguration stream maxing out at 1080p.

Channels like Cape Town TV and Tshwane TV offer a maximum resolution of 576p.

It features free ad-supported streaming TV channels, which it says offers viewers a flexible and accessible experience.

Sentech also offers Freevision, a direct-to-home satellite television service that requires a satellite and decoder to access.

“While Freevision focuses on delivering content via satellite, Freevision Play leverages internet connectivity to offer a more flexible and accessible viewing experience,” says Sentech.

A screenshot of the Freeview Play home page

In April 2013, former Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi announced the company’s plan to launch an online streaming service for local content.

He said the decision had come from analysing global trends, which it wanted to follow to keep South Africa up to speed with the rest of the world.

Mohapi explained that Sentech was developing a multi-media content distribution platform as part of its roadmap for the period 2013 to 2016.

He didn’t reveal much else about the plans, only that Sentech had registered a URL. The CEO said he expected the platform to go live by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

However, this never happened. Only in February 2023 did the company announce further details about the project.

Former acting chief marketing and sales officer Kopano Thage said it was crucial for local broadcasters to be available across all distribution platforms for South Africa’s digital migration journey.

“Sentech identified the challenges of customers in developing their own streaming services due to lack of capability, expertise, and resources in their quest to deliver content to their respective viewers and listeners,” said Thage.

“Recently, Sentech has worked with Nemisa to address their requirements in developing Nemisa TV focusing on video, audio and animation content.”

Stanley Similo, former president of the South African Broadcasting Association, said the organisation supported Sentech’s plans for an OTT platform.

“These are great strides made by Sentech and it is something that must move forward,” said Similo.

Discover Digital executive director Stephen Watson agreed.

“Sentech should play in the streaming space if it is committed to offering full broadcast distribution to its customers,” he said.

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South Africa launches free streaming service