AfricaXP partners with Moben International to provide free TV channels through Wi-Fi hot-spots in buildings and taxis

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Streamed content in Africa faces two key obstacles: data is expensive and billing is usually overly complicated. African content distributor AfricaXP has partnered with Poland’s Moben International to deliver free TV channels through Wi-Fi hot-spots in South Africa. Russell Southwood spoke to AfricaXP’s CEO Craig Kelly about how this joint approach overcomes the key obstacles.


Moben International’s business proposition is extremely simply. In exchange for users seeing ads, it offers them free data, which it buys from operators. In South Africa, it has done a deal to operate over Telkom’s 6,000 Wi-Fi hot-spots and to put 3G modems in 1,000 clearly marked taxi cabs.

Its University sites and a number of Wi-Fi taxis are already up-and-running. It would like to have 60,000 Wi-Fi hot-spots but believes that around 20,000 will be feasible in the near future.

So how does it work? Let’s say you get in one of the data-enabled taxis. You open up your smartphone that will serve up a landing page and from there you can do your e-mails, access the Internet and watch TV channels for free. During each of these activities, you will be interrupted by advertisements, which will pay for the free service.

Craig Kelly, AfricaXP sees it as an interesting way of preserving declining DVD revenues:”Even in the Tanzanian market where there is good regulatory control, the revenues of those producing films locally on the Nollywood model has been in decline as digital takes over from DVD.” Digital means streaming and that has to be mobile in African markets.

In the pilot with Moben, the user who clicks on the TV channels option on the landing page, get re-directed through to AfricaXP’s VoD site. Initially, there will be three channels: Romanza (a telenovela channel), a sports channel (including Sports News Africa) and short format item channel.

”Once it’s working, we can add in many different themed channels including Nollywood, children’s and lifestyle.”  The video streams are compressed so that watching them does not use up too much data. Once this compression process is completed, the pilot will start in two weeks time:”The aim is to test to see what people watch and for how long and what their reaction is to the ads. Meanwhile it should be generating revenues for us.”

AfricaXP gets a share of the advertising revenues. Moben chose AfricaXP rather than You Tube because it didn’t want users to find themselves watching two sets of advertisements and getting annoyed.

Advertising is being sold by Habari Media which started as a digital ad sales agency (for the likes of the BBC and Facebook) but has over time morphed into an advertising agency that specializes in digital.

For Phase 2, Moben has ambitious plans to buy wholesale data from the mobile networks and offer a service and offer the same free data in exchange for advertising service wherever its chosen operators have data coverage.

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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 32 issues and these can be viewed on this link

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Here are some examples of past issues below:

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

 

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