MTN recently launched video on demand (VOD) platform FrontRow, which offers a subscription service for R199 per month (R179 for the first three months).
This means that South Africans now have a choice of three different, local subscription VOD (SVOD) services.
However, many chose not to wait until such services officially launched in South Africa, instead using ways to circumvent the geographic restrictions placed on Netflix and international streaming services similar to it.
Legal experts told MyBroadband that bypassing such geoblocking mechanisms is probably illegal, albeit not criminal.
It is also unlikely that those who might be infringing South Africa’s copyright laws in this way would be prosecuted, MyBroadband heard at the time.
Questions on the legality aside, the effect is that the streaming products from MTN, Times Media Group, and Altech are competing against Netflix in South Africa.
The table below provides a brief summary of how the various services compare in terms of price and technology.
|SVOD price comparison||Netflix||Node||FrontRow||Vidi|
|Subscription||R151 ($7.99+4.95)*||R299||R199 (R179 x 3)||R149|
|Movie rentals||N/A||R15 | R25||R15 | R27||R15 | R27|
|Push / streaming||Streaming||Push||Streaming||Streaming|
Tabulating the differences in content on offer is tricky due to the sheer volume of data such a comparison would need to show, but suffice it to say that the US Netflix catalogue dwarfs that of any SVOD service in South Africa.
“Streaming” means that a service delivers content over the Internet to player software of some kind, and a subscriber watches it as it is delivered.
Push-based services like the Altech Node send encrypted content to an end-user device — in this case a decoder-like box — which a subscriber can then unlock to watch.