SABC opens bids for Internet streaming platform

The SABC has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from suppliers as it prepares to launch an Internet streaming service that is likely to be a key component of its future strategy.

The detailed, 73-page RFP, published earlier this week, comes a year after the public broadcaster issued a request for information, or RFI, so it to learn more about what’s available in the market and what it might be able to do with the latest streaming technologies.

The RFP requires bidders to submit their documents to the SABC by no later than noon on 18 January. Bidders must also attend a compulsory online briefing session on 8 December.

The document provides an enormous amount of insight into the SABC’s streaming plans, both for video (television) and audio (radio) content that it produces. The broadcaster wants a streaming app and website that will offer, among other things:

  • Live streaming
  • A catch-up service
  • Video on demand
  • Audio on demand
  • Pop-up channels
  • Multiple user profiles
  • Single sign-on
  • Offline viewing of content
  • Digital marketing tools and digital advertising
  • An electronic programme guide
  • Closed captioning
  • Network personal video recorder functionality offering record, rewind, pause and fast-forward

At the backend, the broadcaster wants a solution that will allow it to provide streaming feeds to multiple destinations, including websites, apps, social media and third-party streams.

The backend solution must include digital rights management, content management, e-commerce (including a payment gateway), security and a content delivery network, among other things. It must mostly be hosted in the cloud and be made available on a pay-per-use basis.


The public broadcaster wants to own the so-called “over-the-top”, or OTT, platform itself. Until now, it has used third-party platforms, like YouTube, to disseminate its content – but it has little if any control over them.

“These platforms are restrictive and do not allow the SABC to be competitive enough. The SABC cannot monetise content to its fullest marketing value,” the RFP says.

The issuing of the RFP comes as the SABC remains locked in a dispute with Sentech, which carries its television and radio channels over legacy terrestrial broadcasts.

In May, the SABC wrote to both the Competition Commission and communications regulator Icasa over what it called Sentech’s “unfair and anticompetitive pricing”, and urged both regulators to investigate.

Though the SABC will continue to broadcast on terrestrial networks for the foreseeable future, it’s entirely likely that more and more of the viewing public will shift in the coming years to consuming its content via the Internet instead, making it critical that it chooses the right technology platform.  — (c) 2021 NewsCentral Media

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