There is no denying that the OTT market in Africa is positively booming. It is clear also that the mobile operators will continue to have a huge part to play in this region, more so than in any other region.
TV, What IPTV?
A number of years ago, when Internet TV first got a hold in the market place, it was all IPTV, involving Pay TV operators delivering content over the top to their own set-top-boxes. Of course, in many regions they still have a massive share of the market, proving popular with consumers and enabling Pay TV operators to go direct to consumer.
However, back then of course, Africa was not ready or able to embrace this new era of TV. IPTV is still not feasible across the region. The infrastructure is simply not there yet for broadcasters to go direct to consumer in this way. Whilst it will inevitably come at some point, giving the broadcasters that direct access to consumers and the opportunity to tailor services according to preferences, we won’t see them being developed for quite some time yet.
What we have seen instead is massive movement and innovation in mobile services. Since those early days things have moved so much that the mobile operators have been able to make the most of innovations to lead the charge for providing OTT content to the consumers. This is very unlike every other region in the world, where this has been led by media companies and broadcasters.
The mobile industry in Africa is huge and in part because it has had such a massive impact to the everyday lives of people living there. In rural areas where previously there was no or very little connection to anywhere, mobile phones have bridged that gap.
It is hardly surprising then, that there are so many mobile operators across the region, from the global companies such as Airtel, Orange and Vodafone, to the local providers such as MTN and Safaricom. Competition is more fierce than in any other market and of course all the operators are looking to differentiate as much as possible, and more important generate revenue from their services.
Only a short while ago, calls and text messages were the main revenue driver for mobile operators. And then OTT on the go happened. Nowadays, the majority of revenue for these mobile operators comes from delivering TV to the mobile. The mobile operators are very much clued into adapting to this new era of entertainment. Partnerships with content providers means that consumers can access all the mainstream services, such as Netflix, Showmax, and Amazon, along with live channels from the incumbent broadcasters, including live sports, and of course video on demand services.
The Future for OTT in Africa
In the coming years, we will likely begin to see moves from some of the broadcasters looking to benefit from direct to consumer offerings. However, that won’t make sense until the infrastructure is in place.
For the foreseeable future therefore, the mobile operators will continue to be the best route to market for broadcasters and content providers, and consumers will continue to benefit from the price war brought about by fierce competition in this space.