Noam Josephides CEO at Vonetize : Vonetize introduces pay-per-view and offline viewing for OTT in Africa

    • Q. Can you briefly explain to our readers the various activities of Vonetize?
    • A. Vonetize provides end to end premium VOD and Internet TV services. We are handling both the content side as we have direct content license agreements with all the Hollywood studios and TV networks. Currently we have licenses for 60 countries including almost all Africa, Latin America and Middle-East countries. We bring the newest movies from all studios, TV series, children content, youth shows, niche content such as Bollywood and Nollywood and all sorts of content. Currently we have around 35000 titles.We also provide a full technology suite which means VOD applications, live streaming applications, an advanced 4K Set Top Box supporting live channels, cloud recordings and TV apps, websites or smartphones, tablets, Chromecast and more. We have all the content management systems, streaming, billing, advertising, encryption systems, all proprietary developed and working for over 6 years with millions of users worldwide.The model that we work in is mainly B2B and B2B2C service, by which I mean that we are partnering with either mobile operators and internet service provider or consumer electronics manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. We partner with them to pre-install and bundle the service to their customers either as a mobile app or a full solution including STB or hardware.

    • Q. What are Vonetize’s activities in Africa? Do you have any partnership or service launching in the pipeline?
    • A. So far, we have the SmartVOD service live in 33 countries in Sub Saharan Africa excluding South Africa but we might extend to SA in the next few months as part of an agreement that we are making right now. We have a partnership with a company in Tanzania, THT Media and Clouds Media to distribute TV channels with mobile operator and other partners in Tanzania. We have also announced a partnership with a partner in Gabon, a French speaking country and we are currently planning the launch of our service in six to seven African countries with mobile operators.

    • Q.Having worked in other continents, what are the unique challenges of Africa? What would you say can hinder the adoption of OTT services?
    • A. I would like to point out that, the challengers present in Africa, we also have more or less the same in some Latin American countries. Low Internet connectivity remained the biggest challenge in Africa. The second challenge is billing and monetisation as in many African countries, the use of credit cards is not very common, so we need to use other means of monetization. The other challenge are the data prices or data bundles and the way people buy data, for example almost all content services in the world have premium content working on a monthly subscription base. However, in most of the African countries, more than 75% of the data packages sold by mobile operators would be daily packages or weekly packages. Consequently, you cannot bundle the price of the monthly subscription into a few cents for a daily connectivity package. The challenge is to be able to offer our subscription on a daily and weekly basis and this is something that Vonetize can support.Our system was specifically built to integrate numerous ways of alternative means of payment such as mobile carrier billing, credit cards, debit cards, mobile money, e-wallets down to even paper vouchers and prepaid cards and redeemable codes, everything that can be utilized by our distribution partners to get people into the app for content.The alternative to credit cards is to support local currency in African countries. There is always a challenge between exchange rate reconciliation with studios but it is something we automated in our systems. Or we can also support local cache of the content at the mobile operators’ data centers or network, which is something they usually prefer so that the content is served within the network which is something we have already done before and we feel it enhanced the quality of service and video for our viewers.

    • Q. We know that African countries are not really ready to have a monthly subscription for SVOD services, do think that Pay-per view and offline viewing model is more adaptable?
    • A. Of course, Vonetize support all of the content consumption models including subscription, rental and purchase of content titles. The importance of offline viewing comes from two different angles: the first one will be network utilization and less dependency on streaming, and the other would come from the studios licensing release windows which enable us to sell the newest releases many months before they become available for subscription based viewing. We support Electronic Sell Thru (EST) purchase, which means, purchase of digital copies of content including download rights, transactional VOD of 48 hours rental and for other content titles, we support the subscription. The new releases of the studios will always be on EST first then on rental.

    • Q. Can a telecom operator in Africa say marry the Pay per view and the offline viewing mode in a single service?
    • A. Of course, the solution is divided in two. One of them is the user if he wants to consume the movie by streaming or download it and watch it offline later. The other would be very useful in Africa, users can schedule the download, as in some countries, internet is cheaper at night or when the network is not congested. We support download on offline hour or delay download which is more economical.

    • Q. We know that content is king and in Africa they are very fan of localized content so how do you try to tap in local content in Africa?
    • A. We have a team doing the licensing of content and they always mix between international content and local content. We are very strong with the international content partnering with big brands like Disney, Warner, Pixar and Star Wars and others, but of course local content or localized content per country is always part of the discussion. We are partnering with distribution partners and we think that although there might be existing VOD services of local content in specific countries that are very good. When you do the mixture between international content, local content catch up TV and even live channels whenever possible, you mix the richest experience for the user.

    • Q. How do you think operators in Africa can monetize premium content?
    • A. The rules are set to the content owners, you would never have a Disney content for free or ad-based, it will not happen in this ecosystem. However, you can have payment wall under pay per view or subscription options. We sometime have advertising based content in order to increase traffic or having a free trial to build trust before payment. Normally such category will not stand by itself and will need to live alongside the premium, paid content.

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