Telecommunication companies (Telcos) are set to battle DSTV for the control of football viewing rights on the African continent in 2019, when the next licensing round is due, different sources have told BusinessDay at the ongoing AfricaCom conference in South Africa.
DSTV, owned by South Africa based MuiltiChoice through its SuperSport brand currently controls the distribution of sports content on the continent with exclusive distribution rights for the UK Premier League, Spanish football league, the Bundesliga and other top football channels which are popular on the continent including Nigeria.
DSTV paid an estimated £296 million for the viewing rights to the English Premier league in 2016 and holds the rights until 2019 when it comes due for a renewal.
However, with significant advances in video technology in the last few years, Telcos’ are now in a position to also bid for and distribute football, as well as other video content in a more democratic manner across the continent.
Analysts believe that DSTV’s ownership and distribution model restricts the viewership to a few privileged people who can afford it.
Analysts speaking at the ongoing AfricaCom conference noted that while there are only about 20 million TV sets on the continent, there are about 1 billion phones owned by Africans which means that video distribution over mobile phones could easily reach more people.
Industry experts have however pointed out that the video- on-demand (VOD) may not yet be ready for prime time, especially in Nigeria, as a result of low broadband penetration.
Satellite operators like DStv who are in the business of content creation have remained dominant in the market as very few satellite TV operators offer triple-play which is an attractive proposition to consumers (Direct-to-the-Home), with advantages such as HD channels and DVRs.
Pay TV remains huge in Africa, as recent reports by Ericsson states that Sub-Saharan pay TV revenues will reach $5.35 billion in 2020, up by 69 percent from $3.17 billion in 2013.
Speaking at the conference, Adam Poulter, Managing Director, VUBIQUITY International said that he believes that Africa is on the verge of revolution in the repackaging of sports content. Other sources at the conference who did not want to be quoted confirmed that some Telcos are already positioning to bid for the sports viewing rights in 2019.
Erna Korff, marketing director at Telkom South Africa told BusinessDay that bidding for sports viewing rights is something that they would consider.
Already, in Nigeria, the dominance of DSTV in the pay TV space is being challenged by the recent launch of TSTV and Kwese TV.
TSTV which is a wholly Nigerian Owned Pay TV Operator has promised to offer complimentary internet service to its subscription which could open subscribers to accessing vast content on the internet and also change the way viewers interact with content or pay for them.
During its launch in Abuja, TSTV said it will implement the Pay Per View subscription which is likely to be the preferred subscription model if the Telcos enter the video content space, sources tell BusinessDay.
Telecom Provider, Econet, also in October launched in Nigeria a pay TV channel, Kwese TV. However, Kwese TV is a satellite based TV service and not delivered through broadband. However, they offer three payment options; three-day subscription priced at NGN990 (€2.34), a seven-day subscription for NGN1, 850, a monthly subscription for NGN6, 275. Dish, decoder and installation costs NGN10, 960 and includes one-month free subscription.
Expectations are high that the launch of Huawei’s Envision Video Platform for Africa will help drive the delivery of video content on the continent. Experts forecast that video content will drive 80 percent of all video traffic in the next four years, with viewers increasingly opting for live streaming services.
Based on a cloud architecture Huawei’s new envision video platform will support the latest 4K, Ultra High Definition, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, improve the users experience with high quality video and enable user interaction. It is also made to optimize video streaming services based on network conditions.
“By releasing this platform during Africacom, we want to deliver a message to operators and our partners, that in this golden era for video business, especially 4K video, we are ready and capable of helping them shape their video strategies to drive new revenue,” says David Chen, Director of Marketing and Solution Sales of Huawei Southern Africa Region.
Africacom is the premier Pan-African technology, telecoms and media event which takes place in Cape Town, South Africa annually. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the event showcases cutting edge ICT innovations and hosts high level discussions on accelerating Africa’s digital revolution.