Telecom operators are disrupting streaming and SVOD platforms in sub-Saharan Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile operators gained 26% of streaming and video-on-demand (SVOD) service subscribers in 2021, according to a report by French company Dataxis. Corporations like Globacom, Airtel, MTN and Orange are even seriously worrying global giants Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

In recent years, the streaming and video-on-demand (SVOD) market has grown steadily in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of subscribers almost doubled to just over 5 million. Last year it rose to 6.5 million, a 30% increase in one year. This emerges from a recent report by Dataxis, a French business intelligence company specializing in telecommunications, television and media.

Vodacom takes over Netflix

The agency notes that a growing number of OTT (video, audio and internet services) subscribers are now opting for mobile operator applications. In fact, in 2021, the share of subscriptions to offers from telecom groups reached 26%, ie 1.7 million out of 6.5 million subscriptions. As an example of this meteoric rise, Dataxis states that Video Play, the service created by South African operator Vodacom, alone holds 17% of the market share in this region (1.1 million subscribers). It is third, just behind American giants Netflix (1.5 million; 23%) and South African Showmax (1.8 million; 27.7%).

Mobile operators have capitalized on the attractiveness of their Internet subscriptions to create customized services. Some have chosen to become full-fledged market participants by launching their own all-in-one offerings. The latter consists of packages for voice and data telephony, access to television and streaming content. These multinationals include Globacom (Nigeria), Airtel (India), MTN (South Africa), Vodacom (South Africa), Safaricom (Kenya) and Orange (France).

Own offers and partnerships

It should be noted that Vodacom is behind Video Play, the third largest streaming platform in sub-Saharan Africa. For its part, Safaricom has launched its own mobile streaming website called BAZE. Globacom has developed the Glo TV mobile application that offers TV channels and streaming content. For its part, Orange offers its TV Pass subscribers the possibility to watch the content offered on their mobile application for free. For its part, Airtel has chosen to offer a free mobile TV application, but this is only accessible through its internet packages.

We should also mention MTN, which has developed local TV applications like MTN TV Côte d’Ivoire and MTN TV Zambia or platforms like Y’ello TV Guinea and Y’ello TV Rwanda. Some of the mobile operators are working with other players to get more coverage. This is again the case of MTN, partner of several streaming platforms including Wi-Flix, Showmax, StarNews and Kiwi (Cote Ouest Audiovisuel). Vodafone and Safaricom also work with these companies. At the same time, they are closing in on competitors like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Productions shaped by local cultures

Telecom groups have been able to make a difference thanks to their content that respects local cultures. For example, Showmax offers films from sub-Saharan Africa. In 2021, four of his top five productions came from this region of the continent. Given this profitable positioning, the global giants have started to change their strategy. Netflix is ​​entering Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, with co-productions. These different policies should increase the number of streaming and SVOD subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa in the years to come. This consumer benefit is driven by the increase in the number of Internet subscribers, which is expected to reach 709 million (+50%) by 2026.

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