BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster, has partnered with Switch Media and MTN to launch children’s network BBC Kids in South Africa.
The network offers content from the BBC’s catalogue aimed at families and children aged up to 12.
South Africa is the fourth market to launch BBC Kids, following Australia, the US and, most recently, Taiwan in July. In Taiwan, BBC Kids is available on OTT platform MyVideo and offers shows like natural history series Spy in the Wild and cookery show My World Kitchen.
In South Africa, BBC Kids is now available to MTN customers via a daily, weekly or monthly subscription.
Preschool series such as Hey Duggee, Sarah & Duck, JoJo & Gran Gran, Yakka Dee and Swashbuckle are available to watch for the youngest viewers, while shows targeting older kids and their families include Jamie Johnson, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, The Bagel & Becky Show, Horrible Histories and Gangsta Granny.
BBC Kids is ad-free and split into dedicated sections aimed at preschool children and older primary school children.
African OTT video consumption will be driven by the increasing number of mobile internet subscribers and is expected to grow by another 50% by 2026 to reach around 709 million, according to research.
International data company Dataxis found increasing numbers of OTT subscribers now choose mobile operators’ apps, and with the growth in the streaming market, mobile operators are, in turn, offering their own mobile platforms to capture the growing demand.
“Since mobile internet subscriptions are more accessible and affordable than fixed internet, OTT platforms have had to adapt their model to make their content easily consumable on mobile and a lot of multinational telecommunication companies such as Globacom, Airtel, MTN, and Orange have decided to become full players in the video streaming market in sub-Saharan Africa,” said the report’s writer and analyst, Léa Zouein.
“In 2021, mobile operators’ streaming platforms accounted for 26% of OTT and SVoD subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the challenges that could still prevent streaming platforms from becoming widely used, mobile operators that have been partners of streaming platforms for many years, are now becoming players in their own right by offering all-in-one services including voice and data phone packages, TV access and streaming content.”
In Africa, telecoms companies including Orange Group and MTN have launched various mobile applications so subscribers could watch various content offerings.
In May 2021, Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom launched its own mobile streaming service, Baze, with local and regional short videos.
In the same year, Nigerian multinational telco Globacom introduced its Glo TV mobile app offering TV channels and streaming content.
Airtel, Globacom, MTN, Orange, Safaricom and Vodacom are all examples of telecoms companies deciding to become full players in the video streaming market in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the coming years, Dataxis predicted, OTT video consumption will be driven by the number of mobile internet subscribers, which grew by about 8% between 2020 and 2021 and is expected to grow by another 50% by 2026 to reach around 709 million.
“For several years and in various African countries, MTN has been a partner for multiple streaming platforms such as Wi-Flix, Showmax and StarNews and, more recently, for the Kiwi platform launched in early 2022 by the group Cote Ouest Audiovisuel,” continued Zouein.
“Vodafone and Safaricom both work with Wi-Flix. Vodafone also works with StarNews alongside Moov and Orange, and Vodacom is partnered with Netflix, Showmax and Amazon Prime Video. Mobile operators therefore continue to aggregate streaming platforms while launching their own services.”
Mobile telecoms company MTN in Uganda has launched a video-on-demand (VoD) channel dedicated to local films called Kibanda Xpress.
Aimed at boosting the local film industry, the service has launched in partnership with the Association of Core Film Producers Uganda, trading as Pearlwood, alongside Albayan Media, the platform provider for the YOTV mobile app.
YOTV allows consumers to stream local and international radio and TV channels in real time via smartphones.
The Kibanda Xpress channel will feature over 150 Ugandan movies and live-stream other local entertainment content.
MTN Uganda chief marketing officer Sen Somdev said: “In 2020, globally there was unprecedented growth in online video usage with revenues estimated at US$34bn, of which premium VoD accounted for at least US$630m. Africa is gradually making its mark on the global entertainment industry with its vast talent and unique flavour of storytelling.
“We recognise the potential of the movie industry to create employment, to reposition the African narrative and positively contribute to the national GDP. Through Kibanda Xpress, we hope to boost the Uganda film industry to realise that potential.”
Mzee Bwanika, speaking for Pearlwood’s board of directors, added: “Our dream as local film content creators is to build a sustainable industry in which content creators not only earn consistently from their content, but one in which they also thrive and gain the global visibility deserved.
“Without doubt, going digital is the right move for the industry; it will reduce copyright infringements, increase the footprint of the Uganda movies and expose our artists globally among others. We are therefore very excited and appreciate our partners MTN and Albayan Media for making this possible.”
Aggrey Mugisha, YOTV channels CEO, said: “YOTV channels is a platform for our local content. We are here to tap different storytelling techniques from around Uganda and share them with global audiences. There is a unique tradition of storytelling in every country and, if it can be captured on film, then through YOTV channels we can share it with the world.
“Pearlwood is a great example that our local movie industry can be global, and that Uganda is a great entertainment market for the rest of the world.”
Kibanda Xpress can be accessed via the YOTV app from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
Hollywood studio Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has partnered with mobile operator MTN Nigeria to launch the Sony One app for MTN users.
Using the app, MTN users can stream or rent a selection of SPT content and Hollywood blockbusters via MTN mobile data packages.
Movies available for rent include Spider-Man: Far from Home, The Equalizer 2, Bad Boys for Life, Bloodshot, Angry Birds 2 and Black & Blue, while films available for streaming include the classic Ghostbusters and Terminator franchises, Hancock, Jerry Maguire, Chappie and White House Down.
SPT series are also in the mix, including Community, The Shield and The Boondocks, while new film and TV titles will be added to the platform regularly.
John Rossiter, who oversaw the development of the app as executive VP at SPT Networks and Distribution, CEEMA, said: “Sony One is tailor-made to the increasingly flexible way we see media being consumed in Nigeria and across Africa today.
“Today’s launch marks the first step in an inspiring journey for SPT: we have spent a couple of years reviewing and evaluating effective ways to serve our excellent SPT content to, and engage with, this hugely important continent. It is fantastic to launch this platform and there is no better partner to launch with than MTN in Nigeria.”
Srinivas Rao, chief digital officer at MTN Nigeria, added: “We are proud of our association with Sony Pictures Television. This partnership aligns with our GoodTogether philosophy; with it, our customers, who are at the heart of everything we do, will be assured of quality international content, including movies, music and favourite shows all in one app.”
SPT has also partnered with Hakeem Condotti’s BLK HUT in Nigeria as the licensee of the service. BLK HUT is a company that specialises in monetising content for creators and aggregators. The Sony One app can be downloaded on Google Play store and Apple store, while MTN users can subscribe to the dedicated Sony One plans via the short code 5445.
MultiChoice-owned VoD service Showmax and the Nigerian arm of South African telco MTN have partnered to launch a data deal for mobile users.
The offer will give subscribers access to Showmax’s full catalogue on a data-enabled mobile device. Content available includes Nigerian series and movies from Africa Magic such as telenovelas Riona and Enakhe and new seasons of Date My Family, Unmarried and My Siblings & I.
Also included in the offer are all Premier League, Serie A and La Liga football matches, plus a wide range of live sport from SuperSport including boxing and athletics.
Srinivas Rao, chief digital officer at MTN Nigeria, said: “Keeping up with our digitally savvy, always-on-the-go customers is an exciting challenge that is made easier with partners like Showmax. This alliance could not have come at a better time.”
Yolisa Phahle, CEO for general entertainment and connected video at MultiChoice Group, added: “Mobile streaming is an important consideration throughout Africa, which is why Showmax offers mobile-only versions of Showmax subscriptions. We’re proud to have an extensive collection of the continent’s most-loved original African content to share with MTN’s customers and to introduce them to the world of streaming on Showmax.”
Mobile operator MTN has launched its commercial 5G network in South Africa, which will provide customers with access to the new service in over 100 sites across the country.
The telecommunication company is stepping up its digital revolution with the next generation of mobile technology, which promises to bring about “exponential improvements” to the country’s economy, according to MTN.
During the company’s live-streamed launch event, MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said: “Today, from MTN’s birthplace of South Africa, we are stepping up our digital revolution with the next generation of telecommunication technology, demonstrating to all South Africans that 5G is no longer just an idea. It is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of the people we serve.”
The launch of the network is due in part to SA telecoms regulator ICASA’s allocation of temporary spectrum, which currently covers specific parts of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Durban and other smaller cities and towns.
Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN South Africa’s chief tech and information officer, said: “Our 5G strategy has been years in the making and we are confident that we have built a strong foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem. One of the key innovations driving the broad roll-out by MTN has been a strategic approach to dynamic spectrum sharing, as these deployments overcome the challenges of lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.”
According to the company, the regulator had allowed certain telcos additional spectrum in order to aid South Africans during the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the country tighter than any other in Africa. MTN’s 5G service runs on four spectrum bands, making it easier for network technology to migrate from older tech to 5G as well as cover smaller towns and rural areas.
Since the advent of cloud-based game-streaming, the main drawback for platforms in South Africa was always connection speeds. “Cloud gaming will do to gaming what video-on-demand has done to TV; it’s a complete game-changer only this is a game-changer that will be delivered by 5G,” the company said during its launch event.
African pay TV operator StarTimes has partnered with MTN Nigeria to offer the telco’s customers a range of movies, series and sports.
The agreement will give MTN customers access to more than 100 channels and video-on-demand content via the StarTimes ON and MyMTN apps.
StarTimes Nigeria chief operating officer Tunde Aina said: “With the video-streaming bundles on the StarTimes app, MTN subscribers will enjoy unlimited entertainment and video-on-demand services at a cheaper data price than any other network in Nigeria.
“The package comes with 26 live-streaming channels, including all seven sports channels, showing UEFA Europa League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Coppa Italia and more; blockbuster movies, cartoons, news and documentaries”
Telecommunications company MTN Nigeria has unveiled a musical reality show.
Y’ello Star is aimed at developing musical talent by providing young Nigerians with the opportunity to turn their musical dreams into reality.
The show will follow participants as they train in the art and business of music via the MTNF/MUSON scholarship programme, competing to win the top prize.
Rahul De, chief marketing officer at MTN Nigeria, said: “We know that there are a lot of talented people in Nigeria who need to turn up their musical careers. This platform will help launch them to musical heights. We have a wealth of experience in supporting Nigerian talent and are confident we can improve on our past successes.”
Regional auditions will be held in Abuja, Enugu and Lagos. Finalists from the auditions will proceed to the incubation hub in Lagos, where they will be coached by experts in the music industry in several areas as they aim for the top prize. The competition will run until June 2020.
MTN Nigeria has been at the forefront of supporting events that celebrate the country’s arts and culture and has created entertainment platforms such as Music+, MTN Y’ello top 10 and the recently launched music-streaming platform Music Time.
Preschool learning and entertainment platform Hopster has launched in Africa in partnership with South Africa’s Vodacom and Congolese telecom provider MTN.
Consumers can now watch educational shows such as Bino and Fino, from Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri, and other animated African and West Indian nursery rhymes. International preschool hits such as Pingu and Peppa Pig are also available.
Hopster founder and CEO Nick Walters said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have launched in Africa with both Vodacom and MTN. We see real potential for Africa to be a ‘leapfrog’ market – with a new generation of users moving straight to finding their favourite content mobile first, rather than on TV.”
Customers can access hundreds of Hopster’s educational localised French preschool shows, books and music as part of MTN’s time-based data plan packages, as well as via Vodacom’s new VoD service, Video Play.
Telecoms company MTN Nigeria has begun offering faster internet speeds by launching 4G+ in major cities including Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt.
The new service will offer a much higher broadband speed, regular connection and improvements in indoor coverage.
MTN is using 800MHz spectrum for the 4G+ launch in an effort to extend the reach and capacity of its data network in Nigeria and enable speeds of up to 200Mbps.
MTN subscribers using 4G+ should find that downloads will work at a much faster rate than before.
According to Mazen Mroue, CEO of MTN: “The launch of 4G+ represents a natural evolution from MTN’s already fast and reliable 4G network and further demonstrates the company’s commitment to continued investment in technology that caters to the present and future needs of its customers and country.
“At MTN, we believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. With this enhancement, our customers in covered locations can expect faster downloads and uploads, and better browsing and streaming experiences.”
To activate the service, customers need a compatible mobile device as well as an MTN standard 4G SIM card.
Kwesé iflix has partnered with two telcos to make the new African streaming service available to more customers.
Days after its launch, Kwesé iflix – which is offering coverage on the ongoing FIFA World Cup – has struck strategic partnerships with MTN and 9mobile, giving their subscribers access to the fledgling platform.
Adeolu Cairo, 9mobile’s director of consumer segment, said: “As an innovative and customer-centric telecom operator, 9mobile is always on the look-out for ground-breaking ways to enrich the lives of our teeming customers and Nigerians as a whole.
“Therefore, we are excited at the ample opportunity this collaboration with Kwesé iflix affords us to increase our investment in bolstering the growth of football and the bourgeoning Nigerian entertainment industry in a way never seen before.”
9mobile customers will be offered premium VIP Kwesé iflix content for three hours at N500 (US$1.38). Customers also have an option of subscribing to Kwesé iflix for N500 for three hours (valid for three days), N1000 for seven hours (seven days) and N2500 for 15 hours (30 days).
Richard Iweanoge, general manager of brands and communication at MTN Nigeria, said: “We are excited to be working with Nigeria’s emergent digital entertainment provider to offer premium TV and video content to our consumers.
“Some of the extraordinary content on offer includes live coverage of the World Cup tournament in Russia, blockbuster movies and much more.
“This is part of our effort to continue to deliver innovative services to Nigerians through our wide distribution network across the country – in consonance with the MTN vision to lead the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.”
MTN will offer its subscribers 24-hour access to the Kwesé iflix app at the rate of N250. Customers can access data bundles on MTN to choose between one-day, three-day, seven-day or 30-day VIP passes.
Kwesé iflix initially launched in partnership with Bharti Airtel, another of Nigeria’s leading telcos.
Airtel offers its subscribers unlimited streaming of all Kwesé iflix premium VIP content for N300 per 24 hours. It also offers one-, three-, seven- and 30-day VIP passes.
Kwesé iflix is a joint venture between between Econet and and iflix. One of its main attractions is its freemium tier, which allows users to access a range of programmes for free.
Pay TV company MultiChoice has been urged by the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) to introduce pay-as-you-view billing.
The president of NATCOMS, Deolu Ogunbanjo, gave the advice during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
He said that despite the fact MTN began per-second billing in South Africa in 2003, it claimed it was impossible in Nigeria. Because of that, cases were filed by NATCOMS against MTN, prompting Globacom to opt for per-second billing.
Likewise, Ogunbanjo felt it was unfortunate Multichoice said it was impossible to offer pay-as-you-view in the country and that the same services should be applicable to any satellite company that wants to operate in Nigeria.
“The question is, ‘Is pay-as-you-view available in South Africa, where Multichoice originated?’ That we have to find out before we start to fight,” he said.
“So let us do some research. If we can see any country where pay-as-you-view billing is currently used, then we will challenge Multichoice to also give us the service. Let them find the software that will ensure pay-as-you-view billing, otherwise we will boycott them.”
Although MultiChoice had earlier stated it would not operate the pay-per-view tariff system in Nigeria despite demands for it, NATCOMS will only do what the Consumer Protection Council has requested from Multichoice concerning its services, he added.
Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has agreed a deal that puts several of its global channel brands on mobile operator MTN’s short-film streaming platform in Nigeria.
MTN’s Shortz platform will carry shortform content from VIMN brands including Nickelodeon, MTV, MTV Base and Comedy Central as part of the deal, which VIMN secured alongside Lagos-based Arial View Nigeria and MTN.
Under the deal, MTN subscribers will have the possibility to watch all the best shortform video from the iconic VIMN brands via their favourite devices. The deal licenses AVNL to distribute and monetise content to MTN, Africa’s largest mobile network operator with more than 200 million subscribers, including 57 million in Nigeria alone.
Mobile penetration and the demand for short and bite-size content continues to grow in sub-Saharan Africa, thus making MTN Shortz a strategic and long-term platform to reach audiences.
VIMN announced the MTN deal together with a similar content licensing deal with Vodafone in Turkey, which took 300 hours of VIMN’s SVoD content, versioned in Turkish, from Nickelodeon, Nick Jr and Teennick. The content will be distributed exclusively for mobile consumption via the Vodafone TV app.
VIMN has also launched the MTV+ Prime Video Channel on Amazon in Germany and Austria. Prime members can add MTV+ to their existing Prime membership for €2.99 per month. The new offer gives Amazon Prime Video members the ability to access the linear MTV Brand New channel and various premium MTV content on-demand.