Low-bandwidth mobile streaming app opens up distribution possibilities
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:50
If content is king, then distribution is queen, says Pierre van der Hoven,
founder and CEO of Tuluntulu, the recently launched low-bandwidth mobile
One of the main obstacles faced by the creators of content in South Africa is the
difficulty they face in getting their content onto a public platform. Television and
cinema distribution provide limited options. One of the secrets to the success of
the Nigerian film industry, for example, is that it has few or no barriers to
content distribution. It has several options in this regard, from straight-to-DVD
business models to those that rely on the countrys myriad television platforms,
to the growing use of over-the-top streaming. South Africans have far fewer
Developing online media could offer a solution but South Africas ongoing
broadband shortage makes this difficult too. Traditional solutions to this problem
consist of various proposals to increase broadband infrastructure build bigger
highways. While this is essential, it is also the more expensive and time-
consuming option. Content distribution platforms can be more quickly expanded,
Van der Hoven says, extending the highways metaphor, by using the
infrastructure already in place and just building smaller cars. South Africa may
not have an efficient high-bandwidth network just yet but it has fairly abundant
coverage of low-bandwidth mobile networks such as EDGE (Enhanced Data
rates for GSM Evolution).
Tuluntulu, the system developed by Van der Hoven and his team, makes use of
this infrastructure to provide new channels of content distribution in South Africa
and the rest of the continent.
The Tuluntulu app, which was launched in June, was developed as an answer to
the question of how to distribute content on a congested, low-bandwidth
network. At the cost of video and audio quality not significant considerations
on a mobile platform anyway, and certainly not when content is the main
consideration Tuluntulu will provide a place for content creators to broadcast
their material to a receptive audience.
As it currently stands, the app costs the end user nothing except for the data
used when downloading on a mobile network on a WiFi network, even this
does not apply. The nature of the app and the codec used for the streaming of
content means that it uses a minimum of data, making it very cost effective for
consumers. In this way, the plan is to build up the number of users to the extent
that the platform becomes a viable attraction for advertisers.
The app launched with 10 mobile TV channels, including Al Jazeera, ANN7, and
MindSet Learn, as well as several new channels devised by the Tuluntulu team,
some offering an Africa focus, others dedicated to niche concerns such as
fashion, hunting and adventure sports. Other channels offer comedy and music.
The bouquet of channels attached to the app is set to grow.
Van der Hoven says that one of the main benefits of the app, both for
consumers and creatives, is that it goes some way towards breaking down
barriers to content. Affordable to people on both ends of the spectrum, it offers
something like the mobile equivalent to public access television. The channels
developed by Tuluntulu will need a flow of new content to feed them and this
will open up opportunities for content developers who have not been able to
make use of traditional broadcasting methods.