The 2018 World Cup highlighted the changes in live sports viewership across the world, and especially in Africa, where there has been significant growth in the use of streaming services to watch matches. Through increased usage of mobile phones, laptops, and other internet-enabled devices, individuals across the continent are able to watch sports and other live events, and this trend is expected to continue to grow over the coming years. To learn more about the current streaming market in Sub Saharan Africa and its impact on the 2018 World Cup, GeoPoll turned to Mayur Patel, CEO of Kwesé iflix, the leading provider of on-demand entertainment in Africa.
Online Streaming in Africa Q&A
GeoPoll: How has streaming impacted the TV and media market in Sub Saharan Africa in the past few years?
Kwesé iflix CEO, Mayur Patel: The future of TV is the internet and the home of the internet in Africa is mobile. More than 80% of broadband in Africa is accessed via smartphones and tablets, mobile devices are the place where consumers in our markets will increasingly connect with the content they love. Many of our users in the region have bypassed traditional linear broadcast TV, and their first experience of TV is on their mobile phone.
Entertainment producers are now partnering with mobile streaming services in order to access the growing market of mobile savvy consumers. We are now witnessing short form content being made solely for mobile users, along with streaming entertainment services gaining the rights to first time exclusives. People are also starting to consume live TV coverage, sport and entertainment, on their phones.
GP: What are some unique challenges of implementing streaming solutions in Africa?
MP: Some of the challenges our users face include the affordability of mobile data, storage capacity on their phones and the accessibility of subscription payment options. To help with this we formed partnerships with Africa’s leading mobile operators across our markets, from Nigeria to Zimbabwe. We have worked closely with them to create affordable video data bundles specifically for the Kwese iflix app, often with off-peak access, making it easier for our users to watch content on the go. For example, in Kenya during the World Cup, we partnered with Safaricom to launch the Giga Football Passes that gave users 24 hours unlimited data access to the Kwesé iflix app for less than a dollar.
To address storage capacity on people’s devices, we gave our users the choice to download content in three qualities – low, medium or high – so that they can decide what’s best for them. This allows users to download content at a small file size when using public WiFi and watch it at any point over the next 30 days.
On the payment side, we offer flexible options for users to access our full content catalogue. Individuals can buy a 1 day, 3 day, 7 day or 30 day VIP pass to suit everyone’s pockets. Users are used to buying data packs like this as opposed to having a rolling 30 day subscription. The result has been unprecedented growth in customer engagement.
GP: Where do you see streaming and on demand video moving in the next 2-5 years?
MP: In the next five years, mobile TV will be ubiquitous. The trends indicate that data costs in the region will decrease and it is likely that affordable uncapped data options will be more common for video consumption. With this shift, there will be an even greater influx of customers seeking out streaming services to suit their entertainment needs.
To stay ahead of the content game, Kwesé iflix has expanded on the traditional video-on-demand model and introduced new, engaging live, localised programming and features, targeting both mass market users and younger digital-savvy demographic groups.
User data reveals that local audiences have a strong preference for local content. To cater to this demand, we have increased the acquisition and commissioning of local content. We are excited to announce our Kwesé iflix Originals for East and West Africa which will premiere on the app in the coming months.
GP: Under the pay TV rights for the 2018 World Cup, your subscribers in various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa also had the option of streaming the matches, tell us more about this service, how it works, who it was targeted at and what the impact was on football fans in the continent
MP: Kwesé iflix made all 64 FIFA 2018 World Cup matches available live to millions of football fans throughout Africa on our mobile app.
Africa as a whole has the most engaged football fan base in the world, with over three quarters of the population interested in the sport. We wanted to democratise viewing of the sport people love, and give everyone who has access to the internet the ability to live stream games and enjoy post-match wrap ups, all on-the-go and on their terms. We also made all games featuring African teams, the final match and all the highlights of the games available for free.
The user reception amongst each of our markets has been extremely positive, indicting to us that we are on the right track with our live sport content and entertainment roll out. Consumers are embracing the combination of live sport and entertainment, all in one app. This was the first time that all the world cup matches were available on mobile in Africa and we hope to have set the bar for more great firsts to come in our markets.
GP: Was the engagement with streaming services during the World Cup higher or lower than you would have expected?
MP: In terms of scale – this was the single largest live mobile streaming event ever to take place in our markets over 30 days, and it took place on the Kwese iflix platform. We are grateful to the support from our partners and the users across our markets who selected Kwese iflix as their home for the best sport action.
By offering our fans unparalleled access to the games on their mobile device we saw more than 100 million minutes streamed throughout the World Cup. The Kwesé iflix app rapidly became the leading mobile sport and entertainment service in many of our markets.
GP: What are the biggest areas of opportunity for streaming services – live sports matches, news programming, entertainment, or something else?
MP: At Kwesé iflix we see the biggest opportunities in creating a complete mobile TV experience for our users – combining thousands of hours of top quality international and local movies and TV shows with premium live sporting events, news programming, kids entertainment, along with original content that resonates with the audience. We are the first app in Africa to provide mobile customers with standalone access to on-demand content, and a unique live sport and entertainment content offering via our live hub feature. This includes the largest pan-African linear local free-to-air and pay TV channels for mobile devices. We believe that opportunity lies in diversity and options for all.
For more information on Kwese iflix, please contact:
Regional PR & Communications Manager AFRICA
m (+27) 0711382253