MTN shuts down VU streaming service
5 May 2017
Remember MTN’s streaming service called Frontrow? We wrote about it here a few times after it launched. It launched at a time when suddenly it seemed everyone had woken up to streaming. MTN introduced Frontrow in December 2014, Naspers followed a few months later with ShowMax , and then soon after Strive Masiyiwa announced Kwese. The next month, Netflix launched in Africa.
Well, MTN is bowing out of this video streaming game. After relaunching the streaming service as VU last year, MTN is now shutting down the service.
The company announced in communication to customers today which Techzim received.
“We regret to inform you that we’ll soon be saying farewell to MTN VU, Which we’ll be shutting on 3 May 2017. Thank you for enjoying some of the world’s best entertainment with us”.
The interesting thing is that the VOD service seemed to have everything set up to succeed. It had content from all six big Hollywood studios, along with programming from BBC Worldwide, Endemol and Freemantle and so on.
VU also enjoyed zero rating on one of South Africa’s largest mobile networks. MTN has at least 35% marketshare of South Africa’s mobile subscriptions. For potential customers not already on the MTN network, VU offered prices that were competitive in comparison to Netflix and ShowMax. R99 a month! All this should surely have counted for something.
Some of the answers lie in the fact that streaming wasn’t really an MTN product.
VU was powered by a media company called Discover Digital, which has since decided to launch its own streaming service. The new streaming service will be called Digital Entertainment On Demand (DEOD) and it’s launching just a day after VU shuts down. It’s not clear what caused this development between the two companies.
Whether Discover Digital has immediate plans to expand the streaming service beyond SA, is also something we’ll learn in the future.