The SABC’s pivot to streaming will bring its ads along for the ride


The SABC has made a few half-hearted attempts at launching itself as a streaming service in the past, but the broadcaster is taking matters a little more seriously in its partnership with Telkom’s newly-launched TelkomONE service.

We attempted to learn a little more about the SABC’s ambitions, with the public broadcaster being oddly tight-lipped about its plans for the future. Except when it comes to ads, as it happens. Those, they were quite happy to tell us about.

A break from the SABC

One of the best things about streaming services — paid ones, that it — is the almost total absence of advertising. Netflix badgers you with a trailer for its own services every now and then, Spotify only will if you’re not shelling out sixty bucks a month (or less), and Showmax will only show you ads on platforms that aren’t… well, Showmax. South Africa’s public broadcaster’s streaming efforts, at least for the near future, won’t be doing any of that.

Instead, the ads that run on the SABC’s broadcasts will be carried over to its TelkomONE presentation as well, as a “…value-added-service”. We’re not sure who this is adding value for but it’s probably not the people watching the ads. Later, these ads will “…be replaced with ads sold by the Telkom and SABC sales teams,” according to an SABC representative. So at least you won’t see the same ads as those shown on broadcast TV.

The revelation is also suggestive of the company’s programming plans. If the SABC is planning to keep ads in place, then — at least in the initial stages of transition — it’s probably not expecting to do much in the way of on-demand content. It’ll likely follow the old programming model for a while, while the kinks are worked out the system.

Make it happen

Another small item we got feedback on is the possibility of specific content for the streaming service. When asked if they would be creating any content specifically for streaming, we were told that it’s possible that this event may come to pass. They weren’t about to be drawn on timelines, or hints about what sort of content that may be, however, so take this with a pinch of salt. Which might explain the rest of our conversation.

Only one answer

We had several other questions for the SABC, including which platforms the company’s streaming ambitions would eventually be seen on and whether TV licences would be required for those who only make use of the service on mobile devices. In answer we we given a single, blanket statement.

The SABC spokesperson said “The SABC can confirm that it is planning to launch its video and audio streaming services in line with the ever-changing industry trends and consumer needs. At this stage the SABC is not in a position to provide more detail, due to the commercial sensitivity of the information.”

Which isn’t, you know, especially helpful. But at least we know that the broadcaster is planning on keeping its ad revenue flowing on the streaming service as well as its traditional transmissions.


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