Entrepreneur Thabo Molefe — better known as Tbo Touch — will launch a video-on-demand streaming platform later this year called THD. The platform will showcase original South African — and broader African — content, with the official unveiling expected to take place in the first week of October.
Speaking to TechCentral in an exclusive podcast interview on Tuesday, Touch revealed the name of the platform and said development of THD has been happening “for some time”. He said THD will shake up the local television industry and will be priced more aggressively than rivals while at the same time showcasing “compelling” local stories. It will offer video via apps and the Web and will provide streaming in up to 4K, or ultra-HD, resolution.
Touch, who owns the Touch HD online radio station, said he has secured “millions” in funding from the Industrial Development Corporation for the venture — sufficient money for its first 24 months of operation. He declined to say how much the service will cost, though this — and other details — will likely be announced at the October launch event.
He said the Touch HD group has hired a team of developers to build the platform, including the apps, and brought in videographers, producers and directors to film local documentaries as well as original series and movies.
THD will offer world-class quality and aimed at a broad audience, he added. “My product must be able to match anyone in the market — (for consumers) to say, ‘This is a quality product.’”
Asked which companies THD will compete with most directly, Touch said in the podcast: “I don’t see why DStv is not my direct competitor because of the abundance of choice we are offering on this platform as well as the quality we will put out there.”
He said DStv is in a difficult position. Though it offers “compelling” and “relevant” content, it is also expensive (for both the company and for consumers buying access).
“If you look at the war between Netflix and DStv, Netflix is winning because of the price point… However, you cannot do much. It’s like the war between (metered) taxi drivers and Uber. Netflix is giving compelling content at a very good price. The winner in the room right now is the one who can bring an affordable platform that gives you access to quality content.”
He said the market is highly competitive, but that that this excites him and is driving him to produce superior offering, both in radio and television.
Selling content to the world
Apart from South African and broader African content, THD will also offer a mix of Hollywood movies and series. It will seek to sell its original content to other platforms and networks around the world, too. “Distributors are buying the content while we are still creating it,” he said. “We can’t keep telling the Mandela story and expect we’ll be on cinema screens worldwide.”
He hinted at some of the original shows, including one about two big taxi-fleet owners who have the police in their pockets. Another will focus on African cuisine.
“We need to be able to create our own stories, not have Hollywood come to Africa and write our stories. That era has now arrived. I have met numerous content creators, we have added 18 videographers and directors in partnership with the IDC. They have pumped good money into the business to accommodate our innovative plans for the next 24 months.”
The platform will be completely free of advertising, Touch said. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media
- Listen to the podcast interview with Tbo Touch