South African telecommunications company Telkom SA has announced that streaming platform Netflix will no longer be available on its set-top box from October. The announcement was made by the company’s Content Executive Wanda Mkhize who said that “Our current partnership with Netflix has unfortunately come to an end. While customers will no longer have access to Netflix on the Telkom set-top box from 1 October 2021, they will still be able to access other OTT services on their STB”, signalling the end of the partnership between the phone and internet company and Netflix.
Telkom has assured users that although the partnership with Netflix has hit rock bottom, users can still rest assured of new content coming from new partnerships in the works. “We have exciting new and refreshed content partnerships for our valued customers which will be announced in due course”, it said.
The partnership between the two parties took off in 2018 and was Netflix’s first of such collaborations in South Africa. During the time of the partnership, local content such as famous “Blood and Water” and “Queen Sono” was birthed and more local content was also being expected.
As expected, the deal cancellation with Netflix has caused an uproar from customers who have confessed to buying Telkom’s set-top box because of Netflix. Many customers complained of already paying for a service that they would never get and to address this, Telkom has promised customers who purchased its Telkom LIT box in the last six months a voucher worth R1,000.
There are speculations as to why the Telkom-Netflix deal was cancelled. Some say that it could be as a result of Netflix’s partnership with the provider of DSTv and GoTV – Multichoice Group Limited, which is also the largest paid TV provider in the whole of Africa. Although these speculations remain unconfirmed, there is a huge possibility that they are true. Multichoice recently signed deals with Netflix and Amazon which will let users have access to their streaming platforms through its new decoder.
Although the Multichoice deal will provide TV users with seamless access to Netflix’s services, Netflix may be the one to enjoy the deal with Multichoice the most. The streaming service is currently experiencing a post-pandemic decline. In the first quarter of this year, the streaming platform recorded only 3,98 million new sign-ups compared to 15.8 million it recorded during the lockdown and is lower than analysts’ expectations of 6.25 million.
The deal with Multichoice could be a great way to add new customers in Africa, and Africa has the population and market it needs. Netflix is trying to make up for its poor figures by venturing into new markets especially in Africa. The streaming service launched a free mobile-only plan in Kenya last month. The company has also ventured into the gaming industry and has acquired Night School Studio, the developer of narrative and graphic adventure game, “Oxenfree”.