Telkom, SABC to switch on TelkomONE streaming service

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze
Johannesburg, 09 Nov 2020
Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko.
Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko.

Telkom has introduced a streaming channel, TelkomONE, which will host the free-to-air radio and TV channels of public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The five-year deal announced today will see the SABC provide its content to Telkom on a non-exclusive basis. In exchange, the SABC will receive a carriage licence fee, as well as a share of the advertising revenue generated on the TelkomONE platform.

TelkomONE will livestream the SABC's television channels 1, 2, Sport and Education, as well as all 19 SABC radio stations.

Sipho Maseko, Telkom group CEO, says the mobile-friendly TelkomONE will include content over and above the SABC channels, such as comedy, lifestyle content and music for youth and others on-the-go.

"We are excited about the opportunity to provide South Africans with free access to watch their favourite SABC content, online, when and wherever they want.

"TelkomONE will make it possible for subscribers to pause, go back into the programme guide (time-shift) and instantly watch a scheduled TV show they may have missed. Telkom is making digital TV functionality available to all.”

He says highlights to look forward to include local short films and new productions, such as Thesha – a visual trip into modern-day South African youth culture, experienced through the lives of two teenage friends, and Hashtag – a fun, energetic, lighthearted family-friendly talk show hosted by Sophie Lichaba, Mantsoe Tsatsi, Jarred Doyle and Francois Louw.

For the SABC, the partnership is likely to catapult the broadcaster’s desire to take on Netflix and Showmax in the over-the-top (OTT) space.

Since October last year, the financially-constrained public broadcaster has been eyeing entrance into the competitive digital content offering space.

At that time, it announced it had developed an integrated OTT strategy with the goal that it develops or acquires its own OTT streaming platform as a medium-term goal.

Speaking at the launch of TelkomONE, Madoda Mxakwe, SABC group CEO, said: "Telkom was a natural partner with whom to build a new platform for developing and disseminating South African content. The partnership is significant in ensuring that our content, in all its formats, reaches consumers everywhere at any time.

Madoda Mxakwe, SABC group CEO.
Madoda Mxakwe, SABC group CEO.

“The SABC has a wealth of content – both acquired and produced by local talent – that we broadcast on our free-to-air channels. Through the new streaming channel, we will further promote universal access to popular SABC content for audiences and customers, in an affordable manner and with ease of access on mobile.

“We will also create added opportunities for our talented local producers to showcase more of their work on a platform on which content can live longer than on traditional media platforms. The TelkomOne partnership is part of the SABC’s overall strategy of becoming a competitive multichannel and multiplatform public content provider.”

Telkom’s alliance with the SABC comes as more telco industry executives shift their focus to digital content propositions, TV and radio, which are now driving revenue growth.

Research firm McKinsey says telcos leveraging digital to optimise efficiency have improved margins and cut operational costs.

According to professional services group Ernst & Young in its report: Why telcos are moving deeper into content, operators are now key players in pay-TV markets worldwide, and differentiated TV and video content are critical in accelerating revenue growth.