Government through Botswana Fibre Networks has launched Botswana first online streaming platform to showcase Botswana’s stories and cultural heritage to the world.
The platform which is dubbed “UPICtv” is a home grown subscription-based streaming service which will host a bouquet of local and international titles and will have a particular focus on locally produced dramas, movies, comedies and continuity programmes.
In an interview UPICtv Project Manager Mahatma Ramoloko said: “Services are basically gravitating towards the internet, if you want convenience to access content everywhere whenever it’s there in the internet and the penetration rate in terms of fixed and mobile internet allows us to be able to put such a service to the front. It provides that level of convenience to be able to watch from your home, phone, television and smart television and wherever you go where there is connection you can access the content.”
“The platform is a single product in that you have access to a catalogue of content as we currently have a monthly package, but we are currently working on a weekly package and an hourly package to appeal to lower end market and those who would like to have that short term commitment to the platform. It is accessible through smart devices across all platforms such ios, android and its accessible from anywhere in the world but content rights may differ per region. Some of the content that we have may be licensed only for Botswana such as with Netflix some of the content they have in America is not available here so there is that disparity,” Ramaloko said.
“You will find that our content is quite varied from action movies to romantic comedies to kiddies’ content both international and local. We tried to make it appeal to everybody and when you have an account you can have multiple devices per account meaning you can have a sub account for your wife and the kids. We provide a level of convenience for everybody in the family to be able to watch what they want when they want,” he said.
The platform costed Government around P28 million from development platform layout to content acquisition. Ramoloko said “there is two layers to its development, in a nutshell it took us about three years to develop right from business case development to where we are actually realising the platform including the sourcing and contracting of content and we also had to source the content.”
Quizzed on how submissions work, Ramoloko said: “We normally put out a call for proposals or tender once a year but we want to be able to increase the capacity because we need to be able to refresh the content quite frequently as with video on demand you can binge watch so we need to have new stuff either on weekly basis or monthly basis new series and movies.”
“The benefits extend beyond just the content producers. We license content on monetary terms from content producers. We also pay out royalties through Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS). Content production itself interfaces with a lot of industries right from make-up artists to caterers to set designers so the benefit is quite huge for Batswana. For us to be enable to us to be able to capacitate ourselves we need to be participants within this industry as it has the potential to transform us and give us that much needed youth employment and we are always talking about. It’s an entire ecosystem by itself,” he said.