Internet movie 'drive-ins' come to Tshwane

Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - The City of Tshwane has launched a 'Wi-Fi drive-in' service that taps a free internet project to stream films.

Different to traditional drive-ins, the Tshwane service will enable people to watch selected Hollywood films on their phones, laptops or tablets from selected, free Wi-Fi hotspots.

The service at first will be available at Fountains Valley public park on weekends, complemented by a flea market stall and food kiosks.

The initial phase of the Wi-Fi drive-in will offer 30 free movies and the service will update 10 movies a month. Expanding the number of venues where the streaming service is available is also on the cards.

"The next location is Die Draai, Bronkhorstspruit," Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the head of Project Isizwe, told Fin24. Project Isizwe, which is a non-profit organisation, has been tasked with delivering the public Wi-Fi project for the City of Tshwane.

While users of the service are capped at 250MB per day, the drive-in application is uncapped and can handle 5 000 simultaneous views.

Growing demand

Video streaming is growing in popularity in SA with the launch of a number of services, including Times Media Group's Vidi offering, MTN's FrontRow service, DStv's BoxOffice and Naspers owned ShowMax, a Netflix competitor that is being launched this week.

Knott-Craig said that the Tshwane drive-in app, though, is not a direct threat to the MultiChoice business model.

"Tshwane Drive In is only available in public spaces, not in households (hence the remote locations). MultiChoice will still have monopoly on household entertainment. In some ways, Tshwane will drive business toward DStv by wetting the appetite of consumers."

However, US streaming giant Netflix has previously indicated that it could enter SA in 2016, sparking local streaming competition.

"Netflix is the king. Watch those guys. Having said that, the South African broadband environment and consumer market is completely different to the USA, and opportunity exists for local players to carve a content niche."

Tshwane Wi-Fi users can access content at 15mbps, and Knott-Craig said that local content makes the difference for locals.

"Wi-Fi TV is proving this via hyper-local video-on-demand in the vernacular. Netflix will never compete for the eyeballs of Sotho-speaking followers of Mamelodi school soccer."

Fin24 Source