TelOne sent us an interesting communication informing us of their new partnership (with Zollywood) that will allow users to rent a number of local movies. In that same statement was also the revelation that TelOne DEOD has managed to get 20 000 subscribers in the 5 months since it’s release.

The appetite for Video on Demand services seems to be clearly there. Kwese ifix also claimed that in less than four months they managed to get a million subscribers in the door. Whether these subscribers are still active users or not is another thing but the fact that they were willing to give the service a go is a clear sign of interest.

What this also means, is that though for a long time we have assumed that there is no market for such services, the 1 million+ subscribers Kwese and now over 20 000 achieved by TelOne has shown that there are many Zimbabweans willing to use the internet for entertainment purposes.

Once you also consider the fact that there’s an internet penetration rate of over 60% it’s not entirely surprising that there is a significant number of that percentage using the internet for consumption and not only communication.

Potential for growth

We can all agree that the video streaming field in our country is still in it’s infantry and even though services like Netflix remain the most compelling, local offerings such as Kwese and DEOD will continue to have a competitve edge because of the fact that the owners of these services also sell internet, which means they can make it considerably less expensive to watch Kwese and DEOD (as they have). I mean, some would want net neutrality and all that technical stuff but I think that stuff is more applicable in mature markets where access to the internet doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Apart from being able to deliver video content at a lower cost than Netflix, local VoD players will also benefit from being able to provide local and relatable content that Netflix will most probably not be interested in. Whilst there may be some question marks over how interested people would be in local content, I think Nigeria and South Africa offer some interesting examples of thriving film industries in Africa.

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