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The decision by shock jock Gareth Cliff to abandon terrestrial radio for online and WeChat streaming was one of the biggest things to happen to the South African digital space. In a country where free Wi-Fi is still a (relatively) scarce commodity and mobile data rates are pretty expensive, getting the latter right was always going to be a bit of a challenge.
That challenge has however gotten a little bit easier with MTN announcing that it’ll make the show free of data charges for its Internet Services customers.
The MTN Internet Services also include special data rates for the world’s leading all-in-one mobile social app, WeChat. It is through CliffCentral’s WeChat Official Account (OA) that MTN subscribers will be able to tune in and stream his show free of charge.
The offering is the latest in a series of moves by MTN that has seen it slash its call rates as well as offer a number of other internet services, such as Twitter, for free.
Cliff says that the deal will enable the station, which launched on 1 May, to make its “unradio experience even more accessible.”
“As MTN, we are very excited to be behind the mobile launch of CliffCentral,” said Brian Gouldie, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN SA. “Through offering uncapped, free WeChat streaming, we are enabling our customers to engage with this entertainment platform from their mobile devices, at no cost to them.
This opportunity is bolstered by our recently-revamped internet offerings that are connecting more and more South Africans on mobile applications. It’s an exciting space that is showing exponential growth, with popular social apps such as WeChat taking off like wild-fire. It’s a fantastic partnership.”
Alongside audio streaming, subscribers to the Gareth Cliff channel on WeChat can also access video content, daily polls, vouchers and competitions.
While Cliff will certainly have helped increase South African interest in WeChat, it’s always been uncertain how much of that interest would be sustainable.
Had there been significant drop-off after the first few weeks, it would have been easy to blame it on the prohibitive cost of data. Statements like “South Africa just isn’t ready for it” would likely have been bandied about. With the MTN deal however, that becomes much less of an issue and the pressure comes back onto Cliff to produce the kind of content that people will stick around to listen to.