4 April 2017

Africa-Based Trace TV Launches Traceplay, First Urban and Afro Urban Mobile Pay Platform Globally - 'We're Doing in 2 Weeks What Netflix Did in 10 Years.'

analysis

It's taken a while to get there but Trace TV is launching an ambitious music TV platform globally. It will be available in more than 200 countries across the world, including nearly all African countries. Russell Southwood spoke to Trace TV's CEO Olivier Laouchez about what he's hoping to achieve.

It's been a long pregnancy as the launch has been on the cards for many months. So what caused the delays:"There were technical things. We wanted a partner who was able to deliver a spec for a complex platforms. There are multiple launches, multiple languages and multiple channels. We had to clear a lot of rights issues for so many territories and input a lot of meta data. Eventually we are where we are."

Based in Johannesburg, Trace TV is doing what is arguably either the first or second global launch of a mobile SVOD platform from Africa. Naspers' Showmax launched recently in Poland but the main emphasis was not on a mobile platform:"We are doing in two weeks what Netflix did in 10 years."

The launch is not a "big bang" launch:"As you know it's a very complex product and we don't want to have a big bang but the only way to get it right is to launch live. So for example, in Kenya we had a problem with a credit card issuer that we've now fixed. In another territory we had problems with Android and that's been fixed."

In two weeks time there will be a more formal launch and currently local teams in each region are explaining the channels and the content that will premiere. A documentary on Congolese musician Papa Wemba is in the works and will premiere shortly.

TracePlay has the same philosophy as the rest of Trace TV. It's about both audiences and the creators of urban and afro urban music:"The reason we have so much music content is that there is no platform globally with curated urban and afro urban music content. So we're offering this as an added value service to subscribers plus music movies and documentaries related to music.'

So how does Africa fit into the global plan?:"We believe that the SVOD market is not big enough to be sustainable in just one market even globally. The reason to invest in some countries is that with the income we can invest in more production."

"The African (business) model is not is not the same as models in other markets. The African issue is connectivity. We've had serious discussions with many operators about bundling content plus data, enough data to be able to watch a film or a series. There's been a big shift in how mobile operators are approaching SVOD. It used to be 'bring us the content and we'll do it'. Now we're bringing content and marketing and they are bringing the platform and the network and the billing for daily and weekly subscriptions".

So is the SVOD service a different product or an extension of the TV service?:"We are in the business of moving from traditional TV to streaming. We're starting to get some analytics from the new service and people like to watch on digital what they can watch on TV. It's another way to expose our content. There's no other destination where you could find this urban and afro urban content. There's a strong appetite for it and we're filling a gap for this type of music and culture."

So what is this the content? It has what it claims are the best Afro-urban series, movies, documentaries and concerts. There are 9 urban and afro-urban music TV channels and the number sport celebrities channel. In terms of genre, these include Trace Urban, Trace Africa, Trace Toca, Trace Mziki, Trace Tropical, Trace Najia and Trace Gospel. There is instant access to more than 2000 selected programs including original programming. Finally there 30 radio channels covering the various urban and afro-urban genres, 24 of which are advertising free.

Global prices start at a month for 4.99 euros and a month for 49.99 euros for a year. Both offers come with a 7 day free trial. Each offer allows access to 3 screens: either laptop, TV, tablet or mobile.

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