vod-africa
Content Delivery Networks

The growth of video on demand across Africa

Video on demand (VOD) is quietly making its presence known across Africa. And as you would expect, increased internet penetration in major cities has cultivated a hunger for plug-and-play content services.

In Nigeria, IrokoTV has given the West African population an option to watch Nigerian films through their phones and desktop computers. While Aflix, which serves popular American content, is currently consumed via mobile phone in 30 countries.

Richard Alden, the chief executive officer of Wananchi Group, a company that provides television and internet services, thinks that the internet is changing content viewership in Africa already.

“What we are seeing worldwide is that television viewing continues to be strong but people are now consuming media in different ways. People are not necessarily watching less [TV]. In fact, I think they are watching more but what is happening is that people are having more choice on what they are watching through different devices,” Alden told IDG Connect.

Alden’s company through Zuku, its triple play service (Internet, television and phone) has hinted at delving into this field by offering exclusive movies and television series from around the world to the Kenyan market.

Alden confessed that some sort of unofficial VOD consumption is already happening thanks to the high speed broadband that can be found in various parts of the continent.

“A lot of people are already using [VOD] because the power of the internet is so strong and it allows you to do it,” he added.

In reality, Africa has seen a growth of demand in video streaming. YouTube, the simplest form of VOD, has seen increased activity in Africa. Musicians from Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa are seeing improved viewership for their online videos and popular videos are now hitting over one million views.

According to SkyVision Global Network, a communications service provider, events such as Africa Cup of Nations, World Cup, African U-20 Championship (football) are reasons driving demand for Direct to Home (DTH) and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) in Africa.

“The increasing demand in Africa and the Middle East for DTH and IPTV services is overwhelming. Over the past several years there has been a growing demand for reliable video solutions across many segments - including governments and broadcasters - wanting to cover national and international events,” the company reported.  

SkyVision is now looking to expand its services to meet this growing demand across the continent.

Glenn Davies, Group CEO of Inigmah, a VOD enabler operating in Africa, agrees that there is growth of the service across Africa.

“Any African countries which have a stable internet network are always the first to use our services, this includes but is not limited to; South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique and the Ivory Coast,” Davies told IDG Connect.

“Most clients are simply using YouTube or Vimeo to showcase their own locally produced content,” Davies told us. “Our VOD system allows our clients complete control over the monetization of their own licensed and local content in ways which are not able through other ways.”

Broadcasters now understand the importance of having third party companies to manage their content and protect them from infringements.  

“Our VOD system allows us to protect content behind subscription and pay per view models as well as allowing live video presentations such as educational seminars, live events or local music concerts to be showcased and monetized in a manner not available before,” Davies added.

The company is also looking to integrate mobile money payments to help companies to enable quick uptake.

If bigger players such as Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telecommunication company and Zuku enter this space, then the ‘official’ VOD consumption will be a reality for many. They have the money and influence to spread this service.

But, as always, the biggest game changer in the way content will be consumed in Africa will be developments in the mobile phone. Now gadgets are not just dropping in price but they also have more storage, faster processors and larger screens. All the ingredients, in fact, for great video viewing.

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Vincent Matinde

Vincent Matinde is an international IT Journalist highlighting African innovations in the technology scene.

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