WeTek was present at the latest edition of NexTV CEO Africa. The event, which took place last week in Mauritius and is organized by DATAXIS, is Africa’s most influential annual event for the TV, media and entertainment industries.
Can you briefly explain to our readers the various activities of WeTek?
WeTek is a tech company with a global reach focused on delivering the top-of-line and innovative solutions, whether it’s hardware, middleware, or software, for the IPTV/OTT video delivery arena. From a hardware standpoint, we’re experts in creating customizable Android TV and AOSP powered OEM set-top boxes. Regarding middleware, we have developed WeCast, an end-to-end OVP for telcos, ISPs, operators, broadcasters, production houses and content providers to set-up their IPTV/OTT businesses and deliver Linear TV and VOD content. Moreover, WeTek is committed to creating great multiscreen experiences delivering brandable user interfaces design and app development for multiple platforms such as tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, web browsers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and more.
Tell us more about your African projects and partnerships?
Despite WeTek’s global approach with business in the Americas and Europe, the African continent has always been an appealing region for the company, mostly due to its people’s potential and eagerness to move forward into the future of television. In that sense, we’ve been participating in trade-shows around the region and establishing partnerships capable of catalyzing the advances within the IPTV/OTT panorama. In fact, we’re currently very excited with our ongoing Nigerian project which will allow our partner to offer state-of-the-art set-top boxes to consumers and utilize our WeCast OVP to create a new hybrid television service offering Linear TV, VOD and a world of OTT content within the country.
Having worked on other continents, what are the unique challenges of Africa? What would you say can positively impact the adoption of OTT services?
As we all know, low broadband penetration is a common problem within the region with cable connectivity hampering its expansion. However, we’ve been seeing a steady rise and positive investment into deploying 4G networks. Having this in mind, we have developed a set-top top box aimed at operators and ISPs boasting an LTE modem enabling OTT video consumption via 4G connectivity in regions where fixed broadband networks are still lacking. Of course, there’s still a lot to do, but we’re definitely excited about exploring the improvements in mobile broadband and, more than that, helping operators the possibility to open new revenue streams.
We know that African countries are not ready to have a monthly subscription for SVOD services do think that Pay-per-view and offline viewing model is more adaptable?
Africa is a large continent with 54 countries. Even though you can define many common threads through
the region, the fact is that there are subtleties that you need to take into consideration when comparing, for instance, North Africa to Sub-Saharan Africa. Considering that pay-TV operators will continue to be a major force within the wider television scope, pairing their service with parallel VOD content offered via OTT is a sensible option that we’re enabling with our set-top boxes and OVP. This hybrid model can help key players in the region opening new revenue streams while generating win-win dynamics with local production houses and regional OTT providers towards delivering localized content, which is very important in Africa. Moreover, this dynamic can turn the potential threat of OTT to pay-TV providers into an actual benefit.
How do you think operators in Africa can monetize premium content?
Digital Terrestrial Television has taken off in Africa having already surpassed satellite (DTH), which until 2016 was the go-to platform for premium content, as the main pay-TV platform in the continent in what concerns the number of subscribers. This means that there’s an underlying opportunity for new players to combine VOD premium content with their traditional television offering and generate extra revenue. WeTek’s solutions, from STBs to it WeCast OVP, is helping these companies to take ownership of the HDMI 1 and become stalwarts in the future of the African television landscape.