1. When did Discover Digital launch its own IPTV/VOD services?
Discover Digital started business in 2013 when, in its quest to make premium content available more widely in South Africa, it developed both VOD systems and Digital Kiosks for offline video content consumption, working with numerous international technology partners. During this time, Discover Digital engaged in discussions with MTN Group to assist them with content licensing, which subsequently led to a bid in 2014 to provide a fully managed white label OTT VOD service to MTN Group, providing and managing everything from Digital Rights Management, billing integration, CDN and CMS management, studio relationships, content sourcing and content curation, administration and reporting for TVOD and SVOD. The MTN Service, VU (formally MTN Front Row) launched in December 2014.
Separately, Discover Digital has developed strategic partnerships with various tier one and tier two telcos, broadcasters and businesses, providing VOD and IPTV technology and/or content solutions to meet their various individual needs. It has also developed its own Digital Entertainment On Demand service, DEOD, providing customer-centric premium entertainment and education content package options. DEOD launches in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa towards the end of 2017.
2. If so, how many customers has the company attracted?
Outside of South Africa, Discover Digital International now supplies VOD consultancy & services to business in London, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria, which include telcos, content aggregators and regulators. In Q4 of 2017, some exciting announcements can be expected as these entities go to market in their respective territories.
2. In 2014, the company said it was in discussions to add more content. Any update on the type of content the company provides to its clients?
Discover Digital has secured transactional video on demand (TVOD) rights for all six major Hollywood studios for the services it operates, which currently positions the company as the only TVOD service outside of DSTV’s box office to have secured these licenses. The company’s subscription video on demand (SVOD) catalogue has also expanded significantly. Discover Digital works with the world’s largest content aggregators and has added premium content from most of the major studios, including but not limited to ABC Studios, Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, BBC, MGM, Lionsgate, Fremantle and Endemol, plus millennial programming from AwesomenessTV. The company’s content make-up also includes the addition of several kids’ programmes from various suppliers including HIT, Saban and Nelvana, and over 1000 music videos from Warner and Universal.
Discover Digital has also secured exclusive 1st Run rights to ‘Power’ and ‘Black Sails’ which currently run on MTN VU service, and ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ from Starz. Locally, Discover Digital has secured the exclusive distribution rights to ‘Jongo’, a South African Super Hero story and the company also continues to manage the production and distribution of the SuperGP Champions Trophy within its sports content portfolio.
For DEOD, Discover Digital is in the process of securing a variety of African, locally produced content across music, sport and education categories.
3. In the same year, the company also said it would produce its own set-top-boxes to enable access to its services. Has that happened?
With the continued delays in the DTT migration, Discover Digital stopped production of its first hybrid DTT & VOD STB and has since focused on producing IPTV boxes for its customers. The company will launch both Linux and Android boxes in 2017, as well as support for Google’s Chromecast device and Apple TV.
4. Since 2014 there has been increased competition in the VOD market with the entry of Showmax and also Netflix. How is Discover Digital differentiating itself from the competitors?
Discover Digital is now South Africa’s longest standing VOD business, having launched in the same era as VIDI and Altech’s node, both of which have closed. Discover Digital’s approach to business is about being sustainable for the long term and as such, sees itself as a services company providing a variety of solutions for telcos, ISPs, broadcasters and anyone else wanting to play in or enter this space. The company also believes that bundling video on demand as a value added service with partners’ products becomes a great customer acquisition and retention tool and enables it to reach the end customer via business to business relationships. Effectively, that positions Discover Digital as a B2B2C player, enabling partners to play in the VOD space and offer OTT and IPTV services without the exorbitant stand-alone technology, content and management costs of doing it themselves.
5. How is Discover digital taking advantage of the fibre to the homes infrastructure that is available to many suburbs?
Most of Discover Digital’s partners have an FTTH component either in infrastructure or in their retail offering and it is through these various offerings that Discover Digital will be able to take advantage of the FTTH roll outs in suburbs. The company is visited by FTTH players every month and it is clear that VOD will form a key part of their digital value added services as they roll out. Fibre creates the means to deliver HD content and enter into premium video service offerings.
6. Which other countries in the continent does Discover Digital have a presence?
Outside of South Africa, Discover Digital International currently operates in London, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia and is soon to add another two countries in Africa. Its products and services are expanding beyond VOD into system integration and billing tools which offer cost, security and go-to-market efficiencies for customers. It sees a market for this beyond the ancillary benefits that such products provide in its own eco-system. Discover Digital is in a unique position to assist other VAS players with the complexities of Direct Carrier Billing, Withholding Tax and System Integrations costs which often create negative revenue models