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Chief executive of UK streaming service BritBox, Reemah Sakaan joins the BizNews team to discuss the arrival of the streaming on demand platform to South African shores. The streaming era has merely begun, as a number of entertainment providers fight for market share in an increasingly competitive market. It’s great for us as consumers, with a plethora of entertainment options at one’s disposal – and at competitive prices. The unique offering will have a host of British entertainment options, which Sakaan says is a fan favourite amongst South African households – it’s the reason BritBox has decided to penetrate the South African market. The streaming on demand industry as a whole is discussed at length, with Sakaan outlining the huge runway ahead for the industry. – Justin Rowe-Roberts
Reemah Sakaan on the background of BritBox:
BritBox sort of does what it says on the can. It’s a British streaming service. It’s a joint venture backed by the BBC and ITV, so a 50/50 joint venture and got into the British streaming game back in 2017 with the first launch in the United States, rolled out to Canada and launched in the UK, recently launched in Australia and South Africa actually launched last week. So it’s up, running and live in South Africa.
On the competitive environment in the on demand streaming industry:
On-demand streaming is just, as you say, ubiquitous and everywhere. And clearly the way people really are enjoying watching TV and having huge amounts of choice that we’ve never seen before. For BritBox to enter the game against the big American giants, we knew that we needed something really distinctive and different. And we feel we have that. We’ve got a very distinctive point of difference. We’re not trying to be a Netflix, if you just love this way of watching and you love British content, why else would you go anywhere for British content if you’ve got all of the BBC and all of ITV in one place. And so what comes out after that is obviously really great growth streaming markets, but also great British affinity markets. South Africa has always been a really fertile territory for UK content, generally similar taste and sensibility. It was a natural next step for us. Both the BBC and ITV have had successful TV channels – businesses in the market. A couple of those closed recently. So there’s definitely a gap in terms of where people are looking to go for content and an on demand service that does that for them all in one place as opposed to lots of channels all over the place is just a bit of a no brainer.
On BritBox’s pricing points:
We peg ourselves just beneath the big majors (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+). That’s because we’re sort of specialist and boutique. But it’s a super premium product – the quality of it. So, it’s R99 per month with a one week free trial. And then there’s an annual plan you can buy as well at R999 for the whole year, which gets you two months free as well. It’s really competitively priced I think, versus the quite significant contract commitments that sometimes people have to make. But that’s also the beauty of streaming really is that it’s quite easy in and there’s always a free trial. You can do it on a monthly basis – a lot more flexible than I think TV packages have been in the past.
On whether the streaming market is becoming too diluted despite it’s attractive runway:
It’s a really good point. Look, the flip side is that consumers have never had it so good – it was impossible to get all this amazing quality, all of this choice, all of this flexibility at such low prices. It’s an expensive product to make. This is really still the same stuff, but presented in a different way. So scale is really, really important – reaching critical mass scale.
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