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Africa sees VOD boom

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The number of video-on-demand (VOD) users in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will grow by about one million, despite the lack of broadband infrastructure in the region.

According to a Deloitte report, users will select movies, TV programmes and short clips from a catalogue of hundreds of titles, which will then play on demand through television sets, mobile phones and other digital media devices. This user behaviour, it says, will be equivalent to that taking place in millions of broadband-equipped homes globally.

However, Deloitte notes that in the SSA region, VOD will play back from digital video recorders (DVRs) and the files will have been distributed principally via satellite links, and for a few households via digital terrestrial transmission.

VOD is a service that has reached maturity in hundreds of millions of homes globally, observes Deloitte, adding that SSA has not participated in the wave of this adoption. Yet VOD is a desired service among higher-income households, especially in SA and Nigeria, whose citizens account for over 50% of consumer spending in SSA.

The report found that in these countries, and in a growing number of wealthier capital cities across the continent, there is a considerable buzz about the availability of VOD services, with satellite and DVRs able to provide solutions that replicate the VOD experience.

By contrast, Deloitte states that nations such as Chad, Ethiopia, Liberia, Rwanda and Burundi may continue to have TV and electricity penetration of below 5%. Satellite VOD providers may find greater opportunity in the short to medium term in other parts of the developing world, especially India, where though fixed broadband penetration is at a similar level to SSA, the reach of the electrical grid is substantially greater, as is the number of households with televisions.

The firm urges providers of these VOD services to consider what other content could be distributed using this combination of technologies. As well as movies and television programmes, the most popular clips watched on YouTube and other online video sites, could be delivered to DVRs, it adds.

It concludes that a solution that works for sub-Saharan Africa may also appeal to consumers in many other emerging markets with similar combinations of low fixed infrastructure but wide satellite coverage.

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