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Zimbabwe’s First Private OTT Channel To Boost Mobile Ad And Video Subscription Revenue

by Brice Longnos | Sep 12, 2018

Private news publisher Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) has just been granted a broadcast and VOD license by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). Here are the main implications.

  • ZBC will still control the entire DTT market: While the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) announced the launch of thematic channels in May, this is the first time a privately-owned channel operator is authorized, seemingly putting an end to the state monopoly. However, it is worth noting the channel will be broadcast online, meaning ZBC will still control the entire DTT (digital terrestrial television) market.
  • Partnership with mobile operators is essential: AMH is initially planning a SVOD service with a mobile operator. Zimbabwe had a penetration of 102.7% in Q4 2017 for active mobile subscriptions according to POTRAZ (Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, versus 31% and 69% of TV devices in rural and urban households respectively, according to a Zimbabwe National Statistics survey. As with many other emerging markets, distributing over mobile networks will ensure AMH reaches the widest audience. Furthermore, in a market with low fixed broadband speed (8.71 Mbps downstream according to SpeedTest) partnering with mobile operators will enable AMH to take advantage of the rising penetration of mobile broadband (LTE), zero-rating, and large data bundles. . For example, Econet already allows a cellular broadband speed of 30 Mbps in urban areas. Exploring off-network streaming via downloads will also be necessary, like done by NuVu in Nigeria and Ghana. It might however not be enough for live-streaming however, unless the use of high-compression codecs and low-resolution feeds is made.

  • Freemium or ad-funding to grow subscribers: Going pure SVOD is not a realistic strategy in Zimbabwe, where ability and willingness to pay is quite low. So far, consumers have been used to access content for free via national broadcast channel ZBC and free video streaming sites such as YouTube. As such, we recommend the introduction of an ad-funded tier to gather eyeballs and grow use of the platform; with more premium content progressively placed behind paywall as Zimbabweans grow to appreciate the price for quality.
  • A shot in the arm for mobile advertising and subscription video: AMH's transition from traditional and online press to subscription and mobile video will bring global trends to the Zimbabwean advertising and video markets. Strategy Analytics estimates print advertising to drop at a CAGR of -3.6% between 2018 and 2023 in Africa (excluding South Africa), while we forecast mobile video advertising to grow at +20.7% (2018-2023) and subscription video at +38.2% (2017-2022).
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