SuperTV’s data-free streaming service aims to attract a substantial chunk of MTN’s 6 million data subscribers to its service

19 November 2021

Top Story

After a rocky start, Nigerian streamer SuperTV has launched on MTN as a data-free service. Over the long-term, it describes getting 10 million subscribers as “not too ambitious”. Russell Southwood spoke to Acting CEO and Director Content Strategy and Partnerships Ijeomah Onah about its plans.

SuperTV’s road to its new launch has not been auspicious. In 2018 it launched with 9Mobile but its contract was not renewed. Since then it has raised funding from local investors and launched as a data free service on MTN at the end of September. However, in November its CEO Michael Usifo Ataga was murdered in mysterious circumstances in a rented Lagos apartment.

Nigerian industry veteran Ijeoma Onah stepped in to take over the position of CEO and drive the company’s content strategy. Getting set up during Covid-19 has not been easy: “The technical integration at MTN has taken some time. Summview in Paris has been our technical partner. It’s a new thing for almost everybody and getting it right has been important.”

In line with other streamers, its cheapest Bronze bouquet offers a daily package (N200), a weekly package (N700) and a monthly package (N2,000): “We want to make streaming available to the masses, not the 1%. The lowest subscription rate is N200. The three keys to success are affordability, flexibility and accessibility.” Since September, it has had 10,000+ downloads of its app on the Google PlayStore: “I’m not authorized to disclose subscriber numbers.” MTN is the biggest biggest mobile player in the Nigerian market with 70 million subscribers, 6 million (8.6%) have a data subscription.

Its bouquets are segmented by the year: the Gold bouquet (daily N350, weekly N1,200 and monthly N4,200) offers the most recent content. The Silver bouquet (daily N280, weekly N700 and monthly N3,400) has content that is 3-4 yeas old. The Bronze content is older than 4 years old: “Content provides can monetize directly from telco subscribers.”

For Gold bouquet content, SuperTV offers minimum guarantees and a revenue share. For Silver and Bronze bouquets it will give a revenue share. In its offer, it has 30 TV channels including Al-Jazeera, France24, Channels TV and RTI: “We’re interested in anything that’s sellable in terms of genre, including telenovelas, Hollywood, documentary and sports. There about 50 companies so far putting content on the service.”

“The whole concept is that you can find your favorite content. The pandemic has changed the system of traditional distribution and content owners are more receptive to online streaming.”

And what of future expansion plans?: “We need to consolidate in Nigeria but if it succeeds here, it will be successful elsewhere. It's a service that will resonate across Africa.”

In Brief

Ibakatv.com, a Video-On-Demand OTT streaming service that offers a library of premium Nollywood movies and TV series, has partnered with leading Nigeria telecommunications giant, Glo on a new entertainment service starting this December. The new product: “Subscription with free Data,” is a no restrictions offering done in partnership with Glo Nigeria. It will be officially launched on December 5, 2021 at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja by 5pm.

A new body has been inaugurated to govern the practice of broadcasting as a profession in Nigeria to improve the quality of the country’s media ecosystem. The organisation known as the Society of Nigerian Broadcasters (SNB) is tasked with coordinating, setting standards, admitting and issuing certifications of practice to all professional broadcasters in the country. SNB membership is open to established and aspiring broadcasters in four categories: full membership, associate membership, student membership, and SBN fellowship, all of which have specific entry requirements. The Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, John Ugbe, said during the launch of SBN at Channels Television’s global headquarters in Lagos that the organisation will focus on broadcast professionalism. Dr John Momoh, Chairman of Channels Media Group, stressed the importance of repositioning the media landscape with the onboarding of the new body for broadcasters in his remarks.

Zambia: TopStar had partnered with Kazafdi Films Limited and Crown Television to broadcast “The Divorce Club,” Zambia’s hit reality drama series. The reality drama series will air 16 episodes on Crown TV channel 89 on Topstar as part of the agreement. The above mentioned is intended at promoting high-quality, international-standard local content that will be available at a low cost to more than 750,000 subscribers across the country.

Global content production and distribution platform Amazon announced plans to work with African filmmakers and content creators to produce and distribute African content to a global audience. Amazon’s International Head of Local Originals, James Farrell and Chief Marketing Officer for Prime Video and Amazon Studios Ukonwa Kuzi-Orizu Ojo revealed the news in an interview with BMA Sources. Amazon’s team is delighted to be in Nigeria and “start working out how we can start producing Nigerian content for Amazon globally. I expected to meet a lot of ambitious and creative people,” Farrell stated. He explained that Amazon would consider content acquisition based on three factors: the population of people eager to watch their content, the distinctive way the content is presented, and the assessment of content performance. Amazon, according to Ukonwa, is aware of Africa’s rich taste in content and how much it is sought after globally. She indicated that Amazon would work with local creators to develop high-quality content through partnerships and collaboration.

Global: SA local crime drama, Reyka, will officially be available to international audiences. Fremantle has announced numerous global deals, which will see the eight-part series air in over 80 territories worldwide.

South Africa has shown its love for the Hlomu book series by assisting Showmax’s debut telenovela, The Wife, in breaking all kinds of records after its premiere last week. The Wife surpassed Uthando Lodumo’s previous record for the most first-day views of all time on Showmax. The telenovela also broke Devilsdorp’s record for most hours watched in four days, outperforming the launch of any film or series on Showmax, including Game of Thrones, The Real Housewives of Durban, and The River. Dudu Busani-Dube’s best seller Hlomu The Wife was the inspiration for the telenovela. The first season has 40-episodes and tells the story of Hlomu, a journalist portrayed by Mbalenhle Mavimbela of Skeem Saam fame, who falls in love with Mqhele, a taxi driver played by Bonko Khoza, not realising that when you marry a man, you marry his secrets.

The deadline for Netflix & UNESCO’s short film competition has been extended to 28 November 2021! This will give more emerging filmmakers from the Sub-Saharan Africa region 12 extra days to ensure they can participate in this exciting opportunity to tell their exciting re-imagined African folktales to the world. The competition, administered by Dalberg, opened on 14 October 2021 in partnership with Netflix with UNESCO to unearth emerging filmmaking talent from across Sub-Saharan Africa. The six finalists of the competition will each receive $25 000, be trained and mentored by highly-respected and skilled industry professionals and be provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African folktales”.

Somalia: The Maay dialect of Somalia is a variation of the language spoken mainly in the country’s South West state. However, there had been no private media outlets publishing in this dialect, forcing most people to either settle for formal Somalia or be cut off from the information network. Things appeared to change last week when Arlaadi Media Network launched the first-ever fully Maay broadcasting media station for television and radio. On November 2, a slew of Somali federal government officials stood shoulder to shoulder to cut the ribbon to launch Somalia’s first major independent broadcaster in the Maay dialect. Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe, Planning Minister Gamal Hassan, Youth and Sports Minister Hamza Said Hamza, and Justice Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur were among those present. They jointly announced Warteelka Arlaadi (Arlaadi Media Network), often known as ArlaadiMN, as the first privately owned public information outlet solely in Maay, arguably the second most widely spoken dialect in the Somali language.

South Africa: Netflix has announced the release date for the second season of the South African series How to Ruin Christmas. The first season of the series debuted on the streaming service last year, with season 2 set to launch on December 10. Created by Rethabile Ramaphakela and Katleho Ramaphakela, the second season will have four episodes. South African pay TV operator MultiChoice Group has posted what it describes as “satisfactory” fiscal first half results, with its best organic revenue growth since 2016 offset against additional content costs.

Multichoice increased its 90-day active subscriber base in the half year to September by one million to reach 21.1 million subscribers, split between 12.2 million households (58%) outside South Africa and 8.9 million (42%) in its domestic market. Streaming video users on DStv and Showmax continued to grow. Paying Showmax subscribers increased by 42% year-on-year, contributing to an increase of 3% in the group’s African OTT market share since December 2020. MultiChoice also saw a 2% increase in costs, with a 12% increase in organic costs, driven by a deferral of certain content costs from the last financial year. This included major sporting events such as Euro 2020, the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour and the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the non-recurrence of certain COVID-19 related content savings. The net result was an increase in group trading profit of 5% to ZAR6.0 billion.