Mobile video network StarNews Mobile and partners MTN are bringing US-based Black & Sexy TV’s shows to African viewers.
Previously only available to US users via internet streaming devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Android, and IOS apps, Black & Sexy TV will become available to Nigerian smartphone users in Q1 2021. Subscribers will simply need to click on a link sent in a notification to stream episodes and will be billed weekly for access. MTN will zero-rate the data utilised, enabling customers to stream channels and episodes without eating into their data packages and making them more affordable.
StarNews Mobile works with popular local and international stars in South Africa and The Ivory Coast to create short videos that appeal to mobile video streamers. It has strong distribution and marketing partnerships with pan-African mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Moov, relationships with local African artists, and seamless monetization offered through micropayment services.
Dennis Dortch Co-Founder and CEO of Black & Sexy TV says his company is excited to experiment with fun, bite-sized episode formats that are more appropriate for the consumption habits of African mobile customers.
Explaining the potential for this type of content, StarNews Mobile CEO and Founder Guy Kamgaing explains: “Mobile users in Africa have significantly less access to entertainment due to expensive data plans and lacking content tailored to their region.”
Black & Sexy TV is a spin-off from the 2008 Sundance Film Festival darling A Good Day to be Black and Sexy directed by Dennis Dortch and licensed by Showtime and Netflix. After 3 years of offering free programming on their YouTube Channel, the network launched a monthly subscription service Black & Sexy TV Premium on Vimeo, which featured exclusive series, movies, and special footage for $6.99 per month.
There is undoubtedly huge pent up demand in Africa for mobile entertainment, but distributors face a number of hurdles. The first is smartphone ownership. The GSMA forecasts that 475 million sub-Saharan Africans will be smartphone users by 2025, with mobile Internet use growing from 272 million customers in 2019 to 475 million in 2025. However, despite this growth, 35% of mobile connections in Africa will still be via feature phone in 2025 – excluding these users from the benefits of the mobile Internet. Closing the digital divide in Africa requires lower cost smartphones to be available and better device financing to maximise the number of Africans able to access the mobile Internet.
The next hurdle in targetting this market is affordability. Subscriptions have to be approached differently in Africa. Long-term subscriptions, such as seen in Europe and North America, are too costly for many African subscribers who may choose to view more intermittently, as they can afford it. Allowing them to have day passes or shorter term subscriptions is vital; micropayments are key to unlocking the potential.
We’re excited about the future of mobile in Africa, and we’re heartened to see companies like StarNews Mobile unlocking the benefits of the digital world for Africans by bringing the best content, as it’s happening, to Africans in a way that’s also affordable and accessible.