Bringing the dynamic world of African web culture to a new television generation
Africa is home to a sixth of the world’s population, but only makes up 9 percent of the world’s internet subscribers and even then, at much lower speeds than the global average. This is beginning to change however with the introduction of new 4G networks and an increasing demand for online content. In turn, this appetite is opening up new opportunities for telecoms operators and TV providers to tap into this lucrative market.
The United Nations estimates that 60 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25 and according to Nielsen's Global Digital Landscape Report, mobile video participation rates for ‘Generation Z’ (15-20) and ‘Millennials’ (21-34) eclipsed those of any other generation. As a new generation of young people continues to cultivate the continent’s strong mobile culture, Africa is poised to be among the first regions to see mobile video consumption surpass every other form of video viewing.
This growth has been led by the popularity of messaging services like WhatsApp, which encourage sharing of short-form viral videos from sources such as YouTube. With the relatively high cost of mobile data, audiences have gravitated towards short-form internet video and there are currently more than 70 YouTube channels in Africa with more than 100,000 subscribers, according to Face2Face Africa. This has led to the rise of YouTube artists such as Ugandan afrobeats artist Jose Chameleon, Kenyan urban gospel Music artist, Mercy Masika and Cameroonian singer-songwriter, Irma Pany. These short-form videos generate a lot of engagement with younger audiences, offering a “wow factor” with all the action and excitement they want in one short burst.
African media and entertainment groups are recognising this online video trend and looking at new ways to engage, retain and ultimately monetise these relatively untapped audiences. For operators, media strategies across Africa vary greatly depending on audience affluence, access to internet, language, and regional tastes. Subscription based services are still dominated by direct-to-home (satellite) operators that have largely opted for imported movies and episodic shows along with premium sports coverage. There is now an opportunity to start packaging premium digital-first video as part of existing services.
Streaming services are growing in Africa, but are largely targeted at more affluent middle-class audiences with fixed broadband connections within South African, Nigerian and Kenyan markets. In the subscription video on demand (SVoD) space, competition between local incumbents and newly arrived international services has led to more demand for locally produced content with studios in South Africa and Nigeria leading the way in terms of popularity.
With relatively low average revenue per user, when compared to Pay-TV services in wealthier North American and European markets, both African operators and international rivals are tailoring content, mixing local and imported videos to attract audiences while at the same time keeping costs down. A great example of one such pioneer is ShowMax, a multiscreen SVoD service that is now available in 37 countries. Since its launch in 2016, it has attracted almost 10 million viewers with a catalogue that includes 50 percent local content.
Recognizing the relatively small fixed broadband market and growing mobile internet trend, last year ShowMax launched a new lower-priced service for Vodacom, a major South African mobile network operator, offering customers unlimited access to a comprehensive catalogue of episodic TV shows, movies and documentaries. Having identified the value of short-form content as a means of attracting younger audiences, ShowMax partnered with The QYOU to create Q Hits, a series consisting of 13 half-hour episodes featuring the best of African short-form video..The show, hosted by the Kenyan former Miss World, Rachel Marete, mixes some of the region’s most popular online videos including fast-paced sports highlights, music and dance, and even comedy skits that have proved popular with younger online audiences.
Looking to the future, the population of Africa is set to reach 1.3 billion by 2020, yet according to The Sub-Saharan Africa Pay TV Forecasts report it currently only has around 20 million Pay-TV households. With huge potential to attract and add subscribers, operators should begin exploring new business models that appeal to a mobile-first, internet-savvy generation. By taking the TV and video content that is proving popular online and compiling it into their offering, operators can build a loyal base of TV subscribers in the future.
Amory B. Schwartz is the Executive Vice President of Global Sales & Commercial Development at the QYOU, a Dublin-based streamed linear channel
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.