Vodacom LIED to investors about Video Play streaming service?


South Africa’s leading mobile network provider Vodacom might have lied to investors in its official financial results about the success of its now discontinued video streaming platform “Video Play”, according to a well-placed source on the service’s team.

MyBroadband reports that it’s source said that Video Play’s figures were highly inflated, and when management realised what was really happening, they pulled the plug on the service.

Video Play’s numbers

Vodacom launched the Video Play service in August 2015, and when the company started to provide shareholders with figures about the service, it seemed like a massive success.

In its September 2019 interim results, Vodacom told investors they had 1 million Video Play customers who made 14.8 million video-on-demand purchases. Vodacom later told shareholders they had achieved over 40 million Video Play purchases in 2019.

However, in the company’s integrated report for the year ended March 31, 2020, Vodacom reported 3.5 million Video Play purchases made on the platform during the year, a number an order of magnitude lower than the other figures Vodacom previously provided for the same financial period.

Vodacom goes mute

After the huge dip in the service’s numbers, Vodacom stopped reporting subscriber numbers or purchases related to the streaming service and migrated subscribers to a free-mode model up to 30 June 2022 and then quietly pulled the plug on Video Play on July 1, 2022 with executives who were part of the platform’s management currently no longer at the company.

Asked for comment by MyBroadband on the strange numbers, Vodacom declined to offer a response and also could also not say why its Video Play purchases suddenly plummeted when other streaming services blossomed in South Africa.

The network explained that despite the streaming service’s initial success, it wanted to become an enabler for video streaming through its add-to-bill capability and its VodaPay Super App instead of operating a standalone streaming service.

Explanation just doesn’t add up

It does not seem to make logical business sense for Vodacom to move a million paying subscribers who apparently made 40 million purchases to a free platform.

If Video Play grew as rapidly and was as successful as the numbers showed, Vodacom would have perhaps offered it as a streaming service in the VodaPay Super App.

The Video Play service formed a core part of the network provider’s Vision 2025 strategy which seeks to “deliver the most engaging customer experience, reduce demand and increase digital adoption”, further adding to the mystery of its discontinuation.

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