Africa has been awash with flashy VoD and streaming service announcements but often it's the quiet ones you have to watch. Summview has put together a white label platform designed for the Africa market with curated content that is getting traction both with mobile operators and audiences. Russell Southwood spoke to founder and CEO Denis Pagnac, Summview about how he's gone about it.
Denis Pagnac has worked in both the telecoms and media industries so was in an ideal position to bridge the differences between these two very different worlds when he decided to launch his company.
So why did he decide to launch Summview: "It was a combination of passion and expertise. My father was European and my mother was Afro-Caribbean. I was interested in doing something in Africa. It seemed to me that people there were willing to create new things and leapfrog. There used to be 1-2 state channels, now they want to distribute content everywhere on mobile phones".
Summview has created a multi-service, white label video platform that can be used by African mobile operator: "It's a one stop shop turnkey platform. It's available on mobile, tablet or smart TV box. It can be branded by whoever is using it, usually a mobile operator but also TV channels and cinema groups".
Currently the platform is usually used to stream either live TV channels or radio stations: "It provides video and audio content as one time streams but can also do catch-up or podcasts. The platform needs to be integrated with the mobile environment. It make sures everyone is a subscriber of the operator. It ensures good IP connectivity and network blocking and geo-blocking. It deals with payment through any of the following: operator billing, mobile wallet, SMS and USSD".
The approach used varies by country: "Sometimes it's unlimited, sometimes limited, sometimes a one time subscription, sometimes renewable".
On the content side, Pagnac has sought to build in-depth relationships with content owners and works with 50 different content owners, both international and African. The combination of content varies by country although it is focused on three main genres: education, information and news; and entertainment:"We work with different media brands in Europe including MTV, RFI, Trace and BET". He believes in less content but regularly refreshing it.
The current balance of regional African content to International is 40%/60% but he'd like over time to move nearer to a 60%/40% position.
The platform has been rolled out by major mobile operators in Africa. It powers MTN TV in Cote d'Ivoire, Moov TV (Etisalat) also in Cote d'Ivoire; TV Orange in Burkina Faso and Trace by Orange Pulse in Cameroon.
On the platform that has been operating longest - MTN TV in Cote d'Ivoire - its app has had 100,000 downloads and has between 5-10,000 active users. The users pay 300 CFA (US52 cents) per day and 3,000 CFA (US$5.20) per month:"We'd like to reduce these prices." The current offer includes 12 TV channels, radio channels, videos and premium content like telenovelas.
So what kind of content is he currently looking for?:"We look for content addressing different categories of audiences: entertainment, TV series, documentaries and particularly kids content. We'd like to get sports content but it's hard because of the rights issue."
How does he persuade mobile operators of the use case?: "They own the platform and we've optimised the costs (for them). It can be rapidly customized. It works to a business model and you can show the operator a business plan for breakeven quite rapidly. The costs are shared between content owners and the operator and there is no need to invest much to get a good service".