About two years ago, MTN Nigeria collaborated with Dobox Media, a Video on Demand startup, to produce MTN Dobox. Through this, MTN subscribers using this platform could rent movies and pay with airtime, as well as download with no data charges.
At the time, it seemed like an exclusive deal, and later on, even looked as though MTN had acquired Dobox. It was later discovered that MTN was in a non exclusive licensing deal with Dobox.
At the Mobile West Africa held in May 2014, Etisalat mentioned that strategic partnerships with Do Media was going to happen. A Dobox representative confirmed this to TechCabal. Etisalat Nigeria declined to comment.
Yesterday, we happened on a yet-to-be-officially-announced product on the Etisalat website — Etisalat Dobox. Naturally, we reached out to both parties to congratulate them for finally consummating the speculated relationship. And of course, we had questions.
Such as, if Etisalat now has a distribution/licensing arrangement with Dobox, does that mean the similar Dobox relationship with MTN has terminated?
In response to TechCabal’s inquiry, Etisalat’s representative said, “We began the Etisalat Dobox collaboration with a soft launch in January. Communication was principally to existing customers on the network. The partnership is non-exclusive, and we hope to have a long term relationship with Do Media as a provider of content.”
According to a Dobox representative, “Our license to MTN Dobox has not elapsed. We have successfully integrated with MTN, Etisalat and Airtel (non exclusively).”
MTN Dobox’s page is still (a)live and well, but we had trouble activating the service on one of our MTN lines. Airtel Dobox doesn’t appear to exist at the moment. We have reached out to Airtel for comment.
Etisalat’s Dobox on the other hand not only seems fully functional, but more fully featured than its MTN predecessor. Apart from movies, Etisalat Dobox users will be able to access to music videos, movie trailers, short films/documentaries and TV series. Like MTN Dobox, Etisalat Dobox subscribers will pay for their rentals with airtime, but download content for free.
Dobox isn’t without competition. It is only one of the of the portals that offer video on demand services in Nigeria. There’s iROKOtv, which has found the time within aggressive African expansion to launch an offiline download option for its Nigerian subscribers. Then there’s Solo View which allows them buy and download Hollywood and Nollywood titles. It might be too early to declare it the VOD wars, but things are definitely heating up.