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Discover Digital is a digital entertainment business planning to launch an alternative Video-on-Demand (VoD) TV service in South Africa later this year. This recent news came out when the company announced the acquisition of streaming, download and electronic sell through (EST) rights to South Africa’s premier national motorcycle racing category, the Monster Energy SuperGP Champions Trophy.
Sports is kind of a big deal in South Africa. Those who hold the rights to broadcast that content is pretty much golden given that it’s the largest sector of the entertainment and media industry in the country, and is estimated to clock in R19.5 billion by 2017.
For the time being, Naspers-owned SuperSport holds the majority of rights to sports broadcasted in the region, but that might be set to change… at least a little bit.
While a variety of competitive, alternative VoD services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon have taken off in the countries like the US, South Africa and many other emerging markets have been left out in the cold. This is mostly because of expensive internet rates but also because the process of acquiring rights and access to content is tedious and expensive with strong local players not budging.
There are existing VoD services in South Africa such as the MultiChoice’s Catch Up and Box office though they’ve proven somewhat controversial. The satellite network, DStv, is through SuperSport the owner of most of the country’s popular sports content but it’s limited by its high subscription costs and lack of alternatives. It’s unclear where Naspers, which owns MultiChoice, stands on this potential competition. Memeburn did reach out to it for comment, but has so far received no response.
Though the rates are still unknown, in its press release, Discover Digital notes that it will offer customers both Transactional VoD and Subscription DoD services through local telecom networks and Internet Service Providers.
“The deal forms part of our strategy to build a strong international and national sports portfolio for our customers,” says Gary Buskin, a Discover Digital executive. He says the deal is a major milestone for the company as the first local sports content acquisition.
Stephen Watson, co-founder and executive director at Discover Digital, notes that the company has developed two set top box products with one offering a “complete ‘smarthome’ solution” by giving you access to a wide rage of VoD content as well WiFi connectivity. The other set top box is a micro version without a tuner that plugs straight into the TV, probably similar to Google’s Chromecast.
“We intend to expand our content offerings to include Movie Titles (current and library); Series, Children’s content, Music Video and Education Content,” Watson told Memeburn. Much of this technology is made possible through Discover Digital’s development and agency partnership with Ireland’s Digisoft.tv.
Buskin says that the success of businesses like Netflix in the USA bodes well for a similar service to be available in Africa. “The advancement of internet television is inevitable and sports content will form an important part of any operator’s content catalogue,” he says.
A step in the right direction, Discover Digital plans to be “actively driving content acquisition of both traditional video content and sports” and launch its service in the middle of 2014.