London — Issue no. 185 14 August 2014
Because international rights holders have held out for what seem like impossible minimum guarantees, African VoD platforms have tended to focus on local content. The pendulum seems to be swinging the other way with Aflix launching this week with international content at the fore. Also iROKO has signed up some international content. Russell Southwood spoke to Aflix Director Nyasha Mutsekwa about what's planned.
Mutsekwa has previous form in the VoD space as he used to run metvafrica.com, part of iBurst in South Africa, before it was closed down. iBurst had begun to realise that a VoD platform was not going to be an easy investment and got out. Mutsekwa went back to Kenya to consult on TV and media and while doing that met the Nigerian investor in Aflix and once the two met, was signed up to be part of Aflix.
The investment for Aflix has come from both New York and Nigeria, with the investor in the latter wanting to remain anonymous as he does business with the telcos.
So what's the offer?:"It's US$9.99 a month and you get access to ABC, Viacom, Disney, Miramax and MGM. There's also pay per view for US$2.99 if you're a subscriber and US$4.99 if you're not. The catalogue has just under 5,000 titles with ABC as the biggest supplier." There will be a 14 day free trial before the service requires payment,
On local content, things are moving more slowly:"We've had quite a few local content providers sho interest but we've haven't landed any yet. We're working with local TV broadcasters who would love to have a VoD service."
It's only available on Android devices and the app has been in soft launch mode on the Play Store since the beginning of August but will officially launch on 15 August. The last two weeks have been spent testing the payment gateway. Payment is either made using a credit card or with m-money credis from services like M-Pesa and Airtel Money.
In addition, Aflix is currently working to develop set-top boxes to give users the 'living room experience.' By simply plugging in the device into their TV sets, Aflix users can enjoy Hollywood entertainment on their 'big screens.'
He's talking to ISPS (including iBurst) about getting access to their subscribers on an affiliate basis and has another couple of partnerships that will be announced before too long.
The minimum download speed required to stream the content is a 3G connection but the software senses the download speed and adjusts the quality so it can operate on what Mutsekwa dubs as 2.75G:"We've done tests in Lagos and there were no issues with speeds."
Mutsekwa believes that Aflix is "bringing the luxury of theatre going into African homes, at a price point that is affordable. Aflix customers will be able to watch Hollywood titles, from the classic favourites, to current new releases and Blockbuster hits." Mutsekwa adds, "With the use of smart phones on the rise in Africa and the reality that movie going is quite pricey, this is the perfect time to launch our product and change the way Africans watch and enjoy their favourite content."