Wabona video-on-demand beta in SA

A new online pay-per-view video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service, Wabona, launched its beta test website in November and is open to South African testers.

Afrikan Dust Media Group (ADMG) claims ownership of the service and manages it from their offices in South Africa.

Wabona, which an ADMG spokesperson explains is Sotho for “You see” and is pronounced Waa-bo-nah, is aimed at providing an affordable, easy-to-access VOD service for Africans and the Africa Diaspora.

According to ADMG, Wabona is an alternative content distribution platform for African filmmakers that will open more avenues to monetise their content.

This service will securely connect filmmakers with their ideal audiences, the company said, with the aim to support personal computers, tablets and smart phones.

A quick test of the service was promising, though the selection during beta was limited.

Wabona content director Simbarashe Mabasha said that they are busy concluding new content deals and will add content on an on-going basis.

“We are aggressively growing our content library,” Mabasha said.

Titles such as the South African sitcom Suburban Bliss, and films Paramour and By the Numbers were available for rent on Wabona. Other local series available include Yizo Yizo, Tsha Tsha, and Gaz’lam.

Once users have paid to rent a title, it is streamed directly through a player on the website rather than being downloaded to your local machine.

Simbarashe Mabasha
Simbarashe Mabasha

As may be expected from a beta, there are some niggles with the system (such as the left-channel only mono sound on Suburban Bliss), but overall Wabona looks like a promising video on-demand service.

In South Africa in particular, where there is little to no choice when it comes to Internet video-on-demand, Wabona is a most welcome entrant in the video content space.

Considering Wabona’s content focus it was interesting to see prices listed in US Dollars (USD).

Asked why prices are listed in Dollars and if they will show Rand pricing in future, Mabasha said that they will continue to price in USD.

This is because Wabona is a global service targeting regions with large African Diaspora populations, Mabasha said. He added that they have markets in North America, Europe, The Caribbean, Australia and Africa to consider.

At the time of writing the site offered rentals at a flat price of $1.50 per title for 72 hours, regardless of whether it was a feature-length film or 20-minute sitcom episode.

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Wabona video-on-demand beta in SA