Q&A: NextSpeel.com founder Larry Oti

Q&A: NextSpeel.com founder Larry Oti

The Nigerian online streaming business is growing at a fast rate as more Nigerians and African diaspora demand indigenous content. NextSpeel.com is the latest player in the sector, so HumanIPO caught up with founder Larry Oti to discuss all things NextSpeel.

HumanIPO: Before NextSpeel, what were you into?

Larry Oti: NextSpeel is just a product that came live out of everything in my computer. I’ve practically been building stuff since 2010.

You could have gone into any sector, why entertainment and TV?

I have touched or lets say I currently have interests in other sectors. For entertainment…it was about time. The industry in Africa is getting larger by the second and now is in sync with the entire world which means audience boundary gets thinner by the minute

What is the concept of NextSpeel?

About TV series, we can say the niche is pretty much virgin. The concept of NextSpeel for us came up in 2011, execution started same year in another dimension, we were thinking of coming in from a kind of back door for a whole lot of reasons. But by 2012 we took the bull by its horns and here we are today.

What do you offer that TV stations do not?

We offer these soap operas and TV series on demand. There are no watch times or schedule and our deal with content owners doesn’t have anything to do with terrestrial or cable TV timings.

This means an episode can be available on NextSpeel before you see it on cable. Apart from on-demand access, we are making available to the world. We are and over time making them available on all kinds of devices that would ease access no matter where a user is at anytime

How do you get your content?

We license our content legally from the owners – producers, executive producers, production companies,

Which notable owners are currently on board?

We have content from the likes of Bovi Ugboma, Greg Odutayo and Ruke Amata.

What is the arrangement with the producers? Do you pay them?

We are all in business to make money…so we pay. That’s the way they make money.

What lessons have you been able to learn with the beta launch?

There would be lots of lessons, especially ones we’d probably learn the hard way, but it is too early.

Have you factored in the challenge of internet speed?

Most definitely, especially for consumers on our side of the planet. There are a lot of things we can do about it, but we have to take one step at a time….mobile has proven to be one way so we are putting massive efforts in optimizing for mobile.

Our systems detect the speed of the user’s internet connection and serve a video version that would not setback the user experience. That way, there would be less buffering.

I just signed up on my Nokia Lumia and tried to play a video (Soul Sistas), but I was told I could not watch videos on my phone. What is wrong?

Currently, you can’t watch videos on mobile. Reason is the experience wouldn’t be very smooth and we don’t want users to start pointing fingers. We are working on it and it should be available in days’ time.

A little tech explanation. We are delivering videos to mobile in HTML5 so we should have a good experience when we are done working on it because almost all smartphones support javascript and HTML5.

When this is fixed, will all devices be able to play videos?

Yes… smartphones. Tablets support video play currently. We are working on making everything perfect.

You pay for the content, but I’m playing the videos for free. How do you make your money?

For one, the basic… Ads. We all know it’s not stable, we all know that with the right numbers, we can make a killing. We would try our hands on different and more stable revenue models including subscription, release vertical products that we can monetize using other models. First of such products would be released next month

Currently, we are focusing on building a vast library of content and a loyal customer base.

Also in the coming month we would shift away from regular banner and text ads and move to something more unique and in-house that should be huge once we get it right….Right now, like i said, its users and more video plays.

I’m on my Samsung Galaxy Tab right now and I’ve tried to watch two series – My Mum and I, and House A-part, none played. The response I got was “The video you are trying to watch is currently unavailable. Please check back soon”. Why is this so?

That’s the not-so-smooth-experience I was talking about on the tablet. It should play most of the time though. We are working on it. We would be making announcements on our blog.

Don’t you think this could get users frustrated?

The PC has a far better experience….You know the way it is in tech, we push updates every now and then so we should be sorted out in no time

Why are there no subtitles yet, and are you considering adding them?

We would….those are premium features.

How would you assess the quality of the videos, compared with foreign productions? Is there anything that could be done to get them in HD?

HD exists in some..Yes. Production is just a different ball game that we don’t have control over. The only thing we can do is pick the best when we license.

I follow Afrinolly app closely and I understand the difference in your projects, but there are similarities too. Should we expect a NextSpeel app anytime soon?

Yes… sure. Dedicated mobile apps for specific platforms give you precision.

There are apps that allow users to download videos from any site even though the videos are not meant to be downloaded. Do you think your platform is protected against them?

We are one hundred per cent protected from download managers. You can try it yourself.

Do you consider allowing embedding features on other websites to drive traffic?

We don’t support embeds….You can basically tell your readers about NextSpeel. The NextSpeel platform is our revenue source…we can’t redirect traffic

What second party features do you support, and what partnership considerations are open?

For now none, one month from now should see some things come on board

What’s the average amount of data each episode consumes?

It depends… Data streamed on mobile is different….HD on PC and medium quality on PC.

It ranges anywhere from 50MB to 1GB.

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