US and Nigerian-backed Aflix VoD service launches with major international content at an affordable price

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Because international rights holders have held out for what seem like impossible minimum guarantees, African VoD platforms have tended to focus on local content. The pendulum seems to be swinging the other way with Aflix launching this week with international content at the fore. Also iROKO has signed up some international content. Russell Southwood spoke to Aflix Director Nyasha Mutsekwa about what’s planned.

Mutsekwa has previous form in the VoD space as he used to run, part of iBurst in South Africa, before it was closed down. iBurst had begun to realise that a VoD platform was not going to be an easy investment and got out. Mutsekwa went back to Kenya to consult on TV and media and while doing that met the Nigerian investor in Aflix and once the two met, was signed up to be part of Aflix.

The investment for Aflix has come from both New York and Nigeria, with the investor in the latter wanting to remain anonymous as he does business with the telcos.

So what’s the offer?:”It’s US$9.99 a month and you get access to ABC, Viacom, Disney, Miramax and MGM. There’s also pay per view for US$2.99 if you’re a subscriber and US$4.99 if you’re not. The catalogue has just under 5,000 titles with ABC as the biggest supplier.” There will be a 14 day free trial before the service requires payment,

On local content, things are moving more slowly:”We’ve had quite a few local content providers sho interest but we’ve haven’t landed any yet. We’re working with local TV broadcasters who would love to have a VoD service.”

It’s only available on Android devices and the app has been in soft launch mode on the Play Store since the beginning of August but will officially launch on 15 August. The last two weeks have been spent testing the payment gateway. Payment is either made using a credit card or with m-money credis from services like M-Pesa and Airtel Money.

In addition, Aflix is currently working to develop set-top boxes to give users the ‘living room experience.’ By simply plugging in the device into their TV sets, Aflix users can enjoy Hollywood entertainment on their ‘big screens.’

He’s talking to ISPS (including iBurst) about getting access to their subscribers on an affiliate basis and has another couple of partnerships that will be announced before too long.

The minimum download speed required to stream the content is a 3G connection but the software senses the download speed and adjusts the quality so it can operate on what Mutsekwa dubs as 2.75G:”We’ve done tests in Lagos and there were no issues with speeds.”

Mutsekwa believes that Aflix is “bringing the luxury of theatre going into African homes, at a price point that is affordable. Aflix customers will be able to watch Hollywood titles, from the classic favourites, to current new releases and Blockbuster hits.” Mutsekwa adds, “With the use of smart phones on the rise in Africa and the reality that movie going is quite pricey, this is the perfect time to launch our product and change the way Africans watch and enjoy their favourite content.”

Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act's web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it covers online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 21 issues and these can be viewed on this link: Essential reading for those in broadcast or film. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to with Digital Content Africa in the title line.
Here are some examples of past issues below:

Licensing delays stall Kenya’s “i-Tunes” content platform on a Raspberry Pi but end may be in sight

The Mobile Deal that is keeping Africans from having more music, film and TV on their mobiles

Online film, music and TV content in Africa – In search of the elusive business model

Zimbabwe’s TV Yangu offers a social TV platform with original programming

Video clip interviews this week:

Director of Dr Bello, Tony Abulu on his next film Superstar slated for release in March 2015

Evert van der Veer, Head of Comedy Central, Africa on the South African comedy scene and programmes they make

Three competition winners talk about the film they'll make for Afrinolly's Cinema4Change

Mandy Roger on exclusive African content coming on Pana TV inc a Basketmouth series

Jason Njoku, iROKO on launching its production arm ROK Studios to test film and TV series

Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef on fear as Govt's favorite weapon and satire as antidote

Prince Ade Bamiro on the twisted tale of Close Enemies, 1st Nollywood film shot in Hollywood

Tinsel director Tope Oshin Ogun on her film Journey To Self and her next TV series

Jeremy Nathan on a film about Nelson Mandela as the "Black Pimpernel" - Mandela's Gun

Tunde Kelani on his latest film Dazzling Mirage about a family hit by sickle cell anemia

An African Edutainment TV Revolution - Can you mix a message with a good story?

Biyi Bandele talks about his new film Half of a Yellow Sun

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