The SABC has issued a request for information (RFI) from streaming-media platform experts as it gears up to launch its own so-called “over-the-top” (OTT) digital streaming service akin to Netflix and Showmax.
The RFI, which was published on Friday (read it here), calls for information on the provision of an OTT media streaming platform. The SABC emphasised that the RFI is not a request for proposals yet, but simply an effort to solicit information to help it make the right decision.
TechCentral first reported in October 2019 that the public broadcaster planned to offer all its content on its own online video platforms. CEO Madoda Mxakwe said at the time: “While we know we are behind on the technology side, the SABC does not intend to leave streaming TV services to our competitors.”
He said the broadcaster’s news app for smartphones was the first example of what is possible when combining some television and audio content. “We intend to go much further, with the aim of putting all our content on our own streaming service.”
Mxakwe said at the time that the move from analogue to digital broadcasting and to streaming services, coupled with investment in content in indigenous languages, was a “key strategy to ensure the survival and relevance of the public broadcaster”.
In Friday’s RFI, which closes at midday on 30 November, the broadcaster said it is implementing a digital strategy that will allow it to “provide different service offerings to the market with the introduction and use of an SABC-owned OTT streaming platform”.
‘Relied on YouTube’
“Through this process, the SABC needs to understand what OTT platforms are available in the market and how they must be deployed and operated,” the RFI said. “For a number of years, the SABC has relied on the likes of YouTube, websites and social media platforms to publish its content. Unfortunately, these platforms do not allow the SABC to be competitive enough and monetise content to its fullest marketing value.”
Launching its own streaming platform will allow the SABC to “enter the OTT market effectively by providing different offerings to the public with ease of access, similar to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Spotify”, it said.
The SABC plans to offer both video and audio content over its streaming platform. Specifically, it wants prospective vendors and industry experts to give it information on:
- An SABC mobile application, or SABC iPlayer – the application used to consume content by the public on all platforms, namely television and radio.
- Streaming technology, including the required backend hardware, software and licences – this will allow the SABC to provide streaming feeds to multiple destination points.
The SABC iPlayer must have both “freemium” and premium models. The application, which must host seven TV channels and 19 radio stations “must be scalable should the need arise to add additional TV channels and radio stations”. It wants to offer content in resolutions of up to 1080p, but also in 720p and lower-resolution formats when appropriate.
The RFI makes it clear that the SABC is keen to offer a catch-up service, video on demand, audio on demand, pop-up channels, multiple user profiles, a single sign-on feature and offline viewing of content.
It also asks those contributing to the RFI to provide information on how a payment gateway might work, including for collecting TV licence fees and subscription fees, an interesting request given the SABC is a free-to-air broadcaster. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media