Ugandan Startup SimuSystems is trying something if successful would allow any TV network or TV broadcaster to automatically enable pay-per-view function on any of their programs and profitably attract customers from the huge and untapped segment of African population who could not afford to pay a monthly Tv network subscription.
The solution consists of a simple phone app coupled with the usual Tv decoder, and will allow users to seamlessly subscribe for digital Tv on a need only basis. For example, users could just pay few cents of dollars for a 90 minutes movie or $1 for a 24 hours access in order to follow the final match of a football tournament.
SimuSystems big plan is to seize the current time frame of shift from analog to ditigal TV in africa to empower any TV Network to grow their sales with a PAY-PER-VIEW solution. According to the founders, the mission of the company is help the underprivileged people to be able to access digital Tv as far as they could afford. Additionally, the SimuTv initiative is the next best option against piracy in Africa.
For TV networks, the SimuTv app could be customized to reflect their brand in terms of design, functionality & the like. For end customers, the solution brings flexibility and convenience.
“Suppose you simply want to watch a movie or a football match on a particular Tv bouquet which is damn expensive monthly! our app will allow you to do just that; effectively creating a need only Tv system.” Said the founders.
I recently spoke with Asiimwe Raymond, co-founder of SimuSystems, and he shared more about his startup:
Is SimuSystems like iTunes or AppleTV for African shows and movies?
In many ways it appears to be itunes or apple tv, but it is not. While iTunes or Apple tv makes deals with content providers to sell media off their store, we don’t do this. We licence out our app to Tv networks; develop it to reflect the buyer’s brand in terms of functionality, design and so on. For instance assuming dstv bought our app; The app would basically reflect that it is a dstv app.
Our job then remains to make updates available, provide technical support for transitioning to our app system and the like.
How will you compare to any existing model?
The best answer is we in fact are not doing a Netflix, IrokoTv of sorts; we don’t intend to stream tv using internet signals. Our app only survives when there is an existing pay digitalTv system.
What is your business model?
I can only make it clearer by describing how the digital Tv system in Uganda works first. In Uganda, East Africa, and Africa generally; pay tv providers require a monthly subscription; in many parts of Africa this is simply not affordable. Pay tv digital subscription seems the only plausible solution to digitize the continent by 2015, simply because the cost of broadcasting digital signals by countries at a nation wide level is simply impeccable (see this link:http://bit.ly/XRQPyx).
So in essence what we have done is negotiate with paytv providers. Our app will then allow end users already connected to a provider such as dstv; pay for a particular bouquet or selection of Tvs, only when they need it; say for about 2 hours. This will considerably bring down pay tv costs; for instance a provider that asks for about $20 a month will make it possible for users to watch the same package or tvs at about $1 a day!
How will you make money?
Our revenue will be generated through licensing the app, providing consultancy and support services in setting up a system dependent on our app and regular app updates.
Have you secured any deal with producers and contents holders?
Many Tv networks have shown interest. We are still negotiating a deal with them.
What about the limited Internet access in most countries?
We have designed the app not to be internet dependent. Using mobile phone network technologies like SMS and USSD systems we are confident we won’t need a lot of internet. Except that if a user occasionally connects to the internet they will receive updates. In fact the USSD system is entirely designed for non smartphone users. Accordingly notifications by non smartphone users will be by sms.
Have you secured any funding for this project
We have not received funding for the project yet, apart from our our personal savings and skills input. Notwithstanding we have launched the indiegogo campaign you might have seen and are open to other options.