Times Media Group has launched a subscription video service in South Africa called Vidi, at a price of R149 per month.
Vidi also has a video on-demand (VOD) section for newer releases, where it charges between R15 and R27 to rent a movie.
At the service’s launch on Wednesday (10 September), the group said that 21 series are already available, or a total of 69 seasons, or 1,325 episodes.
Asked why the content selection is so limited, Vidi said that content is very expensive and represents the biggest barrier to entry for services like it.
The group says it plans to grow its TV catalogue by about 200 hours monthly, or an average of five series.
Original and local content will also be added to the service as part of a second phase.
Times media said it aims to produce its own content through its own production company, in time. “Local content is definitely a focus,” it said.
Times Media MD of broadcast and content Andrew Gill told BusinessTech that the group has not set any take-up targets, as it believes that that market is strong enough to make it a commercial success in the short term.
“It’s not going to require a miracle,” he said.
Subscription vs box office
Just-off-circuit movies are not available as part of the subscription service, and when asked why that was, spokespeople from Vidi explained that there are two post-cinema release windows: transactional VOD (TVOD), and subscription VOD (SVOD).
Services like Netflix only play in the SVOD space, while iTunes and BoxOffice are TVOD players.
It’s worth noting that iTunes does offer a back catalogue of video content, but not on a subscription basis.
Video streams from Vidi automatically scale according to the connection speed available, to a minimum of standard definition (SD).
A minimum connection of 1 Megabit per second (Mbps) is required for the SD stream, Vidi said.
Vidi offers content in full HD (1920 x 1080) where the studios have made it available at that resolution. To stream full HD content, Vidi said you would need about a 4Mbps connection.
In terms of data costs, a standard length movie, depending on the quality it’s streaming in, will eat between 1 Gigabyte (GB) and 2GB, Vidi said.
A 44 minute episode of a TV show will use anything between 500–700MB.