The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) plans to launch a video-on-demand streaming service to compete with global media giants that provide subscription video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ in 2021.

This follows the announcement that the floundering broadcaster and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies have proposed several regulatory changes, one of which is that video-on-demand providers like Netflix must collect TV license fees on behalf of the SABC.

The details about the SABC’s streaming platform are scarce but according to Channel24, the service will be modelled after the British Broadcast Corporation’s (BBC) iPlayer and work in a similar way as the SABC’s News app.

“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,” said SABC spokesperson, Mmoni Seapolelo to Channel24.

Seapolelo said that she could not reveal more details at this time because of the “commercial sensitivity of the information”.

The BBC launched its iPlayer service in 2007 and it allows TV license holders to watch all of the British broadcaster’s television channels online, while nearly all the programmes that have been broadcast are available to watch on-demand shortly after they have been aired, for a limited amount of time.

The iPlayer also curates content from the BBC archive.

An “SABC iPlayer” would enable the broadcaster to host its content on its own platform. It currently provides some of its original content to DStv’s Catch Up service and places some of it on YouTube.

The SABC sold a portion of its archive to Multichoice in 2013 as part of a controversial deal. Archival content from the broadcaster’s golden age was shown on a DStv channel called SABC Encore from 2015 onwards.

SABC Encore was removed from DStv at the end of May 2020.

At the time Seapolelo said that “The Corporation is at this stage exploring more avenues to ensure that our audience continue to enjoy the broadcast of SABC’s premium vintage programmes on alternate platforms.”

The SABC’s archive is worth billions of dollars. At the State Capture Inquiry, it was revealed that the public broadcaster charged the now-defunct ANN7 news channel R2000 for every second of archival footage it broadcasted.

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