Hong Kong billionaire plans African rival to Netflix

PCCW's HKT unit will unveil the entertainment service as early as next week. (John McCann, M&G)

PCCW's HKT unit will unveil the entertainment service as early as next week. (John McCann, M&G)

PCCW, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, is planning a video-on-demand service for South Africa that would compete with Netflix and Naspers’s ShowMax, according to two people familiar with the matter.

PCCW’s HKT unit will unveil the entertainment service as early as next week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the product hasn’t been made public yet. 

Telecommunications conglomerate PCCW bought a majority stake in mobile video-on-demand service Vuclip in March and plans to expand the service into new markets, including Africa.

PCCW declined to comment. 

The company’s shares fell by 1.5% to HK$4.08 a share (about R7.20 a share) at the close of trading in Hong Kong, giving the media company a value of HK$30.8-billion (around R54.4-billion). The stock is down by 23% this year.

Streaming services are targeting Africa as wireless networks become more widespread and reliable, allowing the delivery of video in a region where landlines are scarce. 

Local users access content on mobile devices produced by companies such as Nigeria’s IRoko Partners.

The challenges of capturing an audience of more than a billion people include persuading users to accept the data costs that result from streaming. 

Naspers wants to reduce this cost with plans to allow customers to download content rather than stream it when the company expands ShowMax beyond South Africa. – © Bloomberg

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