Airtel, one of Nigeria’s telecommunication service providers, is not only one of the leading companies in the Internet market but also seems to be deliberate in positioning itself in the digital space as it recently launched the Airtel TV app. The app, which is subscription-free, promises to be a “one-stop platform” for music videos, live stations, and sports news.
Introducing the New Airtel TV app!
Watch what you want when you want! Subscription is free… 💃💃💃
Enjoy Movies, Music, Series and Live TV. Download now on your mobile phone.#LiveFreeWithAirtelTV pic.twitter.com/9MjHXGpNTy
— Airtel Nigeria (@AirtelNigeria) January 6, 2020
The Airtel TV app is accessible to both iOS and Android users on the Airtel network as an Airtel number is required on signing up. Additionally, only registered users can have unlimited access to the app’s content library.
A report says that Airtel has partnered with Trace Africa, Discover Digital, and other content providers to bring content to the platform.
“The television platform would deliver the very best of television experience directly to all Airtel customers across the country,” Dinesh Balsingh, Airtel Nigeria’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
It is also noteworthy that in 2015 Airtel Nigeria introduced Wynk, a music streaming app that gives its millions of subscribers unlimited access to international and Nigerian songs on their mobile devices. Users with a premium subscription can sync their playlists to three devices.
Suggested Read: Airtel Nigeria Launches Wynk, A Music Streaming & Download App
And in 2017 Airtel Ghana, in collaboration with Interactive Edge — a global partner in digital technology — launched the Airtel Play Portal. The portal provides users with content from Stream TV and also gives them access to live TV stations and African movies. After the free trial ends, users can purchase Airtel Play bundles with USSD code.
Having said this, Airtel Nigeria isn’t the first telco to launch a TV or music streaming app. In 2019, 9mobile introduced SuperTV app which allows customers to watch movies and shows in Nigeria. Also, MTN Nigeria launched MusicTime! — its music streaming platform — that allows users to enjoy local and international music.
With telecommunications providers in Nigeria delving into the digital space with multiple services, it may seem that they are continually trying to maintain and satisfy their customers.
A repeat of 3flix Mobile TV or not?
In 2018, Airtel Nigeria launched 3flix Mobile TV for smartphone users. The content on the app ranges from movies to music, fashion, sports, entertainment, cartoons, documentaries, and so on.
Unlike the newly-launched Airtel TV, Wynk, and Airtel Play Portal, Airtel customers needed to subscribe to enjoy the service. For Wynk, the tariff was pegged at ₦20 ($0.055) and ₦75 ($0.21) for daily and weekly subscriptions, respectively. However, at the time of publication, Wynk, Airtel Play Portal, and 3flix Mobile TV were no longer available on the Google Play Store.
However, considering that 3flix Mobile TV was a subscription-based service, it may seem that Airtel Nigeria has learnt its lesson by making this newly-launched TV app free for users. Nevertheless, the cost of Internet subscription might still be a problem as Nigeria’s mobile Internet penetration figures keep rising. Consequently, the VOD market in Africa may be struggling to have a foothold in that space.
Suggested Read: How do you capture a market like the African VoD market?
The cost of Internet subscription is still high in Nigeria as compared to some other African countries. Airtel Nigeria is currently winning the data wars as it gained about 2.3 million Internet subscribers between January and August 2019.
A quick peek into the app
Unlike iROKOTV, users on Airtel TV can watch movies — Nollywood and Bollywood — but can’t download content from the platform. And with a stable Internet connection, users can choose to stream in low, high, auto, or medium quality.
Although there are about nine genres on the app, it may seem that Airtel TV is still populating the platform as there are a few recent Nollywood movies and music videos on the app.
On the app users can watch movies in languages which include Hausa, Swahili, Hindi, Yoruba, Igbo, and Shona; however, the movies in these languages are old.
Asides the video-on-demand (VOD) service, another notable thing about the app is the live TV with channels like Bloomberg, Trace (Urban, Africa, Mziki, Tropical, Gospel, and Sports Stars), Gametoon, Fashion Box, Bollywood, Nautical, God TV, Inspiration TV, and Al Jazeera, among others.
Nonetheless, if the network provider company can continue to maintain its position in the data wars, reduce the cost of data as ordered by Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while providing a strong Internet connection and adding more recent Nollywood and international movies and music videos to the app, it could start competing with the likes of iROKOTV and Netflix.