Vidi a competitor for Multichoice?

2014-09-21 15:00

The Vidi video-on-demand service, launched last week, has presented a competitor to MultiChoice’s similar BoxOffice product, and has made South Africa less of a frontier market for US video-on-demand provider Netflix, which expanded into European markets this week.

Vidi, backed by the listed Times Media Group, is available on Android, PC and Mac, and an app for iPhone and iPad will soon be available.

Viewers can rent older movies for R15, and new movies are going for R27.

BoxOffice offers classic movies for R10, and non-DStv subscribers can expect to pay R32 to rent a new release. It averages 529?000 rentals a month, according to parent company Naspers’ annual report.

Netflix, which boasts more than 48?million members in more than 40 countries, this week started executing its May promise to expand into France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Times Media boss Andrew Bonamour kept Nu Metro Films when the group sold Nu Metro Cinemas as part of its drive to dispose of noncore assets last year, meaning it got to keep its large motion picture library.

Times Media Films is another subsidiary in the group, and in the year to June 2013, it bought the rights to the Twilight saga and The Hunger Games.

During the year to June, it bought up the rights to Need for Speed and Walking with Dinosaurs(3D). By Wednesday, some of these movies could be found on the Vidi platform.

As Netflix does not offer its services to South Africa, locals have been bypassing Netflix’s geolocation filters through a virtual private network connection to access content such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, both of which are Netflix original productions.

Some attorneys believe this is illegal and amounts to copyright infringement.

Times Media also has an opportunity to produce its own shows with Ochre Moving Pictures, the company responsible for the soap Scandal!, SABC Education’s Takalani Sesame and drama series Gaz’lam.

But BoxOffice and Netflix may not be Vidi’s biggest competitors. Rather, the fledgling service might have to contend with danger from an unlikely quarter: Telkom.

In February, the fixed-line operator published a request for proposals for the supply of connected home video-on-demand services. This was later withdrawn, with Telkom telling online news portal TechCentral it planned to issue a new tender based on a business model more closely aligned to its revised business strategy.

George Kalebaila of the International Data Corporation said: “The biggest threat in the short term to Vidi is expected to come from Telkom if it launches its own video-on-demand services by leveraging its ADSL infrastructure.

Telkom can offer video-on-demand as a bundled service to its ADSL customers as a triple- or quad-play offering, and position itself as the preferred connected home communications provider to its subscribers.”

In telecommunications, a triple-play offering is a broadband internet and fixed-line telephone service bundled in with television services. Quad play adds mobile to the mix.

The corporation believes Vidi’s quality of streaming is expected to be better than international alternatives because of its local content distribution network.

How they stack up


Subscription: R149 a month.

Payment: Credit card, certain current accounts or debit cards, depending on bank. Other payment options will be made available soon.


Subscription: $8.99 (R99.16) a month (HD streaming on two screens). Virtual private network connection: R50.

Payment: Credit card, PayPal. Gift cards are on the way in the US, according to a recent letter to investors. This could create a new market in South Africa, where entrepreneurs bought iTunes store gift cards in the US and sold them here, allowing locals to buy music and movies from the US iTunes stores before Apple officially came to South Africa.

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