There is a newcomer on the online video streaming scene in Africa - StarTimes.
On November 26, 2018, the Chinese electronics and media company entered the over-the-top (OTT) business with the launch of a new brand called StarTimes ON.
In an attempt to offer a great entertainment experience to its users, the app covers everything from news, sports, movies to music and religion. As such, the app has over 150+ channels in over 10 languages, with over 140 channels being completely free. Subscribers will have to pay for the sports content.
These include top international channels like Fox News, BBC World News, and local ones like NTA.
According to the company’s statement, "StarTimes ON weighs local contents importantly and has imported most popular contents dedicated to African users. Some national TV stations, like NTA, ZNBC, TVM, TBC, KTN, RTI and RTs, are available in their countries. StarTimes ON provides 40+ self-owned channels, with upgrading hundreds hours programs each day. Users can enjoy ST Novela Plus, ST Nollywood Plus, ST Dadin Kowa, ST World Football, ST Sport Premium and so on, with StarTimes ON."
It continued, "StarTimes ON provides multiple sports matches, including World Cup, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, UEFA Europa as well as other boxing, rugby, basketball, cricket matches. For example, users now can watch live Bundesliga and Ligue 1 football matches with StarTimes ON, and they can also watch replays and highlights of these excellent matches at any time and anywhere."
The Operation Director of StarTimes ON, Ariel Lin, added that "more excellent international and local channels will be put online, and diverse and rich contents will always be the core of StarTimes ON service."
All of these content will come in Standard Definition (SD), High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD).
The online video streaming business in Africa
According to the World Bank, there are about 89 million internet users across the continent with half coming from Nigeria. Reportedly, Kenya and Nigeria both make up 62% of the total internet users in Africa.
With this increasing internet penetration across the continent, it’s no wonder that the online streaming business is becoming extremely popular.
As such, Business Wire predicts that the numbers would have gone up from 1.56 million Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) subscribers in 2017 to at least 9.99 million across 35 Sub-Saharan African countries by 2023. However, the revenues are expected to be only $775 million by 2023 since some platforms are quite cheap.
The growth of the streaming business is proving to be a major problem for the pay-TV market. After the launch of Netflix in South Africa in 2016, Multichoicereportedly lost 41,000 Premium subscribers.
Econet's Kwese TVhas also been forced to shut down only 18 long months after it was launched. However, the company is pulling a smart move by only keeping its streaming services- Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play.
These are some of the current streaming services available across the continent:
Afrinolly - developed in 2011 with over 4 million users.
MyFilmhouse - lets users either rent or buy a movie online.
Show Max - owned by Naspers, the parent company of Multichoice (owners of DSTV).
Iroko TV - one of the first online movie streaming platforms in Africa.
Kwesé Play -This is an "exclusive" Netflix hardware partnership, owned by telecoms and media group Econet.
Netflix - the popular Online Video On-demand service launched in South Africa and Nigeria in 2016.