Sherif Dahan, Regional Director, OTT MEA at Vuclip, talks to Intelligent CIO Africa about Vuclip’s recent launch of their video streaming app, VIU.
• Is there a particular industry that Vuclip is targeting with this new app?
VIU is the OTT offering of Vuclip, the leading mobile video-on-demand service provider for emerging markets. Since launching in 2016, Viu has been made available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Bahrain.
• What are the pros and cons of engaging in North Africa?
North Africa is always perceived as a highly promising region of high reach markets such as Egypt and Algeria. Hence, being present offers a big opportunity for growth and service adoption. One of the main points to consider is the ability to provide the right content mix for each of those markets.
Egypt as a market is very different from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. The languages and genres of content for each of those markets is a major factor when considering launching an OTT service. Internet and smartphone penetration, quality and speed of connections and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) levels are not as high as other regions, yet scale is incomparable.
• Is digital TV in North Africa (Egypt) a viable entertainment option?
Yes, however there many factors that come to play. With the young population, below the age of 35, constituting more than the half of the population, consumption of content through digital mediums, be it smartphones, desktops, laptops and tablets is exponential. Internet penetration and fixed broadband affordability are both experiencing an upward trend. The challenge lies in the economic situation at the current stage in Egypt after the devaluation of the Egyptian pound whereby the overall buying power of the largely dominant middle class has been majorly affected; making access to smartphones and higher data packs ever more challenging.
• How does Vuclip plan to scale in North Africa (Egypt) and the Middle East?
VIU is already live in 8 markets in the Middle East; the full GCC as well as Jordan and Egypt. In those markets, consumers can access an extensive premium library of movies, TV series, TV shows, documentaries, select sports shows and thousands of music videos. For each of these categories, we strive to be highly relevant to the regions and countries we operate in. In the Arabian Gulf region, our library avails Arabic, Indian, Filipino and regional content across the mentioned categories and hence the traction from the locals, expats living the gulf as well as major diasporas like Indians and Filipinos is very high. We make sure to constantly update our service with titles that are highly popular as well as some ‘Day and Date’ runs of shows like the lineup of Ramadan TV series we availed throughout the month of June. Our app is already on the top in the Google Play Store entertainment category reflecting the type of traction we are getting in our markets.
• What is the difference between North Africa (Egypt) and rest of the world as far as Vuclip’s market opportunity is concerned?
The Egyptian market is one that grants huge reach to any service or product; with a population fast approaching one hundred million with a majority comprised of the young digital citizens. This market is highly receptive and promising to services like Viu. While we carry learnings from all the markets we are live in, we treat every market with utmost attention to the target audience, relevance and premium offerings. In Egypt, we provide a lineup that comprises Arabic, regional and Bollywood dubbed movies along with the most recent TV series including multiple simulcasts.
We complement those with selected TV shows from across the region and prominent global producers and distributors of sports, cooking, prank/practical joke shows and documentaries that has proved to drive traction amongst our audience in Egypt. Egypt has a long cinematic history that contributes to more than 90% of the Middle East yearly production of movies and TV shows. Hence, the entertainment preference of the Egyptian audience has to be taken into consideration when formulating a content offering strategy. In addition, features like ‘download to watch later’ is one that VIU avails and has proved to be highly appreciated by our Egyptian user base.