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Video-streaming firm Basebone sees growth in emerging markets

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South African-based over-the-top (OTT) digital media services company Basebone says it has seen increased consumption of its services in emerging markets, growing its income by 23% year-on-year in 2020.

Basebone, an international mobile entertainment service which launched in SA in 2007, is the creator of Baseplay, a video-streaming platform which provides access to thousands of movies, TV series, music, games, fitness and e-learning to mobile users.

Baseplay leverages proprietary technology that encompasses content management, mobile payments, advertising and anti-fraud technology to make digital content accessible to households across the globe.

The company has partnered with a number of content providers from Africa, with its services also made available in certain parts of Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Despite a challenging operating environment dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the OTT player says it grew its subscriber base by 114.5% in 2020 to 20.6 million subscribers, with more than 100 000 daily subscription activations.

Basebone CEO Michael Holmqvist says since inception, the company has over the years decreased its dependency on SA – where it bills itself among the largest OTT providers – by successfully expanding across the MENA region.

Reflecting on 2020 and the impact of the pandemic, Holmqvist points out there were pros and cons: “The appetite for our products escalated. Our advertising scaled and there was a lot more interest in our adverts during the pandemic.

“On the downside, however, as the pandemic progressed and conditions in the market deteriorated, people had less funds to spend. This was one of the drivers behind the company giving away content for free with adverts.”

Basebone has six office locations across five countries – UK, Spain, Kenya, Nigeria and SA (Pretoria and Cape Town) − with its services available worldwide in two main languages, Arabic and English.

Its flagship product, Baseplay, offers a suite of digital content that is packaged into five subscription services known as Baseplay Stream, Mastery, Games, Family and Pulse, featuring content from local game developers, filmmakers and content providers from across regions.

A member of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association, Basebone says it has signed agreements with SA’s telco operators and third-party service providers to zero-rate some of its content, including e-learning programmes – a move which has led to unprecedented growth for the company.

“Many users don’t have sufficient funds to purchase content consistently, even if they are subscribed. We give them a substantial portion of our content for free, a move that has successfully driven retention. We also work with content providers and creators to continuously deliver fresh and relevant content to our markets,” he adds.

Looking ahead, the OTT player says it will continue to aggressively expand its flagship product and is currently expanding into Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, as it hopes to increase its 20 million active subscription base.

Also on the cards for 2021 is an initiative to address the ever-growing need for fresh and relevant content by collaborating with new content creators.

“Viewers need new, fresh and original content. With more people staying home and the demand for content becoming greater, content creators have become more important than ever,” Holmqvist continues.

“Creators who partner with us will have access to the more than 20 million mobile users (and growing) and the chance to extend their reach into the largely untapped emerging markets.”

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