What to expect from streaming in Africa for 2021 … and beyond
The entertainment industry has undergone a seismic change over the past year and with streaming now at the forefront of its future, the African streaming market is expected to grow fivefold over the next five years.
Looking back into 2020, there is no need to repeat how much things have changed globally as we have had to adapt to a radical new lifestyle involving lockdowns, wearing masks and social distancing.
The impact on the entertainment industry, especially the streaming industry, has been extraordinary. With millions of people around the world stuck in their homes, unable to attend church, weddings, funerals, shops, the movies, or even hang out with friends and family, the adoption of streaming services quickly accelerated.
In 2020 around the world, we saw the launch of AT&T’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock. Disney + was born from 20 to 73 million subscribers
between February and October. Netflix has crossed the 200 million subscriber mark. Apple TV + released some hard-hitting new titles, and the $ 1 billion short-format mobile bet Quibi was scrapped in December.
Additionally, the line between traditional and over-the-top (OTT) platforms has become increasingly blurred, Warner Bros. choosing to release his biggest titles on HBO Max as well as in theaters, a move that could threaten survival of cinemas. Just look at the number of Golden Globe nominated streaming titles
to see how far the power dynamic has shifted from mainstream Hollywood to the big streaming players.
On the continent
With regard to Africa, we observe similar trends. The reality is that doing business in Africa is a challenge, something MultiChoice has learned over the past 30 years. Infrastructure challenges aside, the complexity of multiple languages, cultures, currencies, banking systems and regulatory frameworks make it a complex continent on which to thrive. This is our home, however, and we continue to thrive and learn how to best overcome the challenges of opportunity.
External analysts at Digital television research predicts that the African streaming market is expected to grow five times as much by 2025, reaching 12.96 million subscribers, up from 2.75 million in 2019. These figures indicate a great opportunity before us, and we remain optimistic .
Bringing global trends closer to home in South Africa, the impact of the 2020 Covid lockdowns on Showmax has been dramatic. There was a 50% increase in the number of active users and a doubling of gaming events on the platform in South Africa during the strictest lockdown period in all categories – international series and films as well as local films, series and content for children.
Rather than change what people were watching, the locks changed How? ‘Or’ What people watched. For people who might have been curious about streaming before, the lockdown saw them take the plunge and sign up to see what on-demand really was.
What all of this has meant for us as a fundamentally African streaming company – operating in 46 African countries and a number of diaspora markets – is that we have had to change the way we work. We had to become more agile, more strategic and had to push the boundaries of innovation.
It remains essential to meet the needs of consumers, create great content that Africans love and deliver it to our customers the way they want, with cutting edge technology and a personalized and compelling streaming experience.
One of the main goals last year was the launch of Showmax Pro, which adds live sports streaming from SuperSport as well as live music channels and news to the existing entertainment offering. We are seeing positive adoption in South Africa as well as in key markets such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.
Showmax also became the first streaming service to make mobile downloads possible for offline viewing and launch a mobile-only plan, an initiative that has since been followed by other key players.
The MultiChoice group also had to innovate, 2020 seeing the release of DStv Explorer Ultra and the announcement of DStv Streama. Both devices allow users to add streaming apps like Showmax, Netflix, and Amazon Prime in addition to DStv.
Ultimately, people want to be entertained with stories that reflect their life, language, hopes and fears, so it’s not just in our technology that our company has had to adapt to an African market in full growth. Showmax has invested a great deal of energy in the growth and preservation of our South African and African catalogs, and has seen a steady growth in the audience for local content across the continent as a result over the past 12 months.
Hyper-local content remains a strategic differentiator for the MultiChoice group, with nearly 2,000 hours produced in the first half of the current fiscal year, bringing the group’s total library of local content to around 60,000 hours.
As streaming continues to accelerate, we are in the exciting position to lead the way with an OTT offering, a first in Africa, designed for local markets.
Yolisa Phahle is CEO of General Entertainment for MultiChoice Group Africa. She oversees the entertainment strategy for MultiChoice, including channel acquisition, channel production, sales and distribution, and local production. With roots in South Africa, but born in the UK, Phahle was a successful musician before returning to South Africa in 2005, taking M-Net’s 0 channel and turning it into Africa’s premier music channel. .
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