Cell C's Black goes dark as linear channels off-air - TechCentral

Cell C’s Black goes dark as linear channels off-air

Cell C has stopped broadcasting the linear channels on its Black video-streaming service as the struggling mobile operator continues a major review of costs in its business.

The channels disappeared from the platform at the start of September. It continues to provide on-demand movies, series and other content, however.

A notice on the Black website says simply: “We are experiencing difficulties which are affecting our live TV channels and are working to resolve the issue in a timely manner. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Cell C told TechCentral that in recent months it has “made some important business decisions to ensure that the company establishes itself as a strong and competitive player in the industry. This includes reviewing its full product portfolio.

“We are taking the right steps to right-size the business, focusing on revenue generating activities and cutting costs where necessary. Our decision to reconfigure our product and services is part of putting the business on the right track. We need to move forward based on a road map that is robust, profitable and in the best interests of Cell C and its customers.

“Cell C has made a decision to review Black’s content strategy, in particular its linear channels and enter into negotiations with its content providers. Content remains part of the broader strategy and will continue to be offered, albeit in a different format,” it said.

‘Alternative Black products’

“Cell C black customers will continue to have access to music, series and movies even though linear channels have been temporarily suspended,” it added. All impacted linear subscribers will receive alternative Black products and services.”

In July, Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson said in an interview with TechCentral that one area where spending would be scaled back as part of a comprehensive review of the business was Black, which, he said, had failed to meet the company’s expectations.

“We are not going to pull the plug on Black, but I will tone down the investment into it and then use it as a product value enhancer and churn reduction mechanism as we go into a converged environment,” he said. “As a standalone, it’s not going to work, but it has to be integrated into your product set. Black could have done better.”

In its 2018 financial results, Cell C revealed that it had spent R523.9-million acquiring programming and movie rights. It spent a similarly large amount in the 2017 financial year — R528.3-million.

Econet Media

The latest developments come just weeks after Econet Group pulled the plug on Econet Media, which operated the Kwese satellite TV service and the Kwese Play video-streaming platform.

Econet Media’s insolvency practitioner has since put the business up for sale.

TechCentral reported in July that Econet Media had racked up more than US$130-million in external liabilities and was unable to pay suppliers before it was placed into administration.  — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media

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