While folks continue to debate whether or not on-demand TV and movie services like Hulu and Netflix will arrive on the African continent anytime soon, competitors are coming thick and fast.

The latest is a new subscription service, designed expressly for the African market called NuVu from one of the least likely suspects, namely Ericsson.

NuVu is different from the vast majority of the services available today in that it’s designed expressly for use on smartphones and tablets in the African market.

It’s also ridiculously affordable. Ericsson believes that operators (who will be the channel to market for the service) will be able to bring NuVu to market at anywhere between US$2 and US$5 a month.

That (let’s face it) relatively inconsequential fee will give users access to about 3000 titles made up from a mix of international blockbusters and locally produced (and relevant) content.

What’s astounding however is that this very low monthly subscription includes the data charges users would normally have to build into their monthly budget in order to utilize such a service.

This win is achieved by driving the content down to users’ phones and tablets during low and off-peak times on the network. Its’ not a streaming service, but a download service, complete with DRM and offline storage capabilities.

The low/off-peak download strategy means there might be a wait before users can enjoy their content. But, that’s of course way better than paying a much higher monthly fee.

Users with access to a WiFi network won’t have to ensure this wait however, as these downloads will be instantaneous.

Airtel Nigeria has been named as the launch partner for NuVu and the service is due to see the light of day in the first quarter of 2016.

Specifics aren’t available about where else it will launch on the continent (and when), but the team working on the project has said that its confident it will launch with another four African operators over the coming year.

The service sure sounds great, but isn’t without its drawbacks.

The most notable issue some customers will have with it is its picture quality. Ericsson’s platform will transcode content down to 480p, which might be perfect for most smartphones, but will almost certainly get up the nose of folks that have devices with 720p, 1080p or even 4K displays.

Over time however, Ericsson says users can expect the resolution of the content to improved (as network capacity naturally increases). At the price (don’t forget, it includes the data costs), there’s frankly nothing that comes close to competing. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the market responds.

[Image – CC by 2.0/James Vaughan]
Brett is the big cheese at Hypertext Media. He's been covering the technology industry for so long, he's seen old technology be 'respun' as the next big thing one too many times. He started Hypertext in 2002 and quite frankly hasn't looked back (although he often longs for the days when a steady salary, sick days and leave were a given). Publications in his stable include htxt.africa; DailyFive (http://www.dailyfive.tv); Connect; Tarsus Channel and GirlGuides (http://www.girlguides.co.za). He also hosts the ZA Tech Show (http://www.zatech.co.za), does a monthly tech column for Sawubona and writes the odd gadget piece for a magazine here and there. Currently uses: 11-inch Macbook Air, iPhone 5, Blackberry Z10, iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Kindle Paperwhite, Marley TTR Headphones, Xbox360, PS3, Nintendo 3DS.