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Telecoms provider Lebara, best known for calling plans to enable migrant communities to connect, has launched Lebara Play, which aims to bridge the content gap by providing a new entertainment service for migrants. The service claims to be the only multi-ethnic entertainment service bringing together free and premium, fully-licensed content in 13 languages in one place, without long-term commitments.
Yoganathan Ratheesan, Chairman and CEO of Lebara Group, said the company had been working behind the scenes for the last two years to put together the service, which unshackles the migrant consumer from extensive commitments in terms of contractual commitments, often entailing separate agreements and cards for a range of channels, or even the purchase of set-top boxes and satellite receivers.
“Serving the migrant community is at the core of everything we do at Lebara,” said Ratheesan. “While the need to call loved ones is never far away, as new locations become home for our customers, different needs such as financial services and entertainment become more important. Lebara Play is an unrivalled service designed for an under-served community; and the launch proves that we’re delivering on our plans to disrupt the existing entertainment landscape and diversify our communications business,” he added.
Company executives stressed that all Lebara Play’s content is 100 per cent legal and licensed, which not only produces a consistent and high quality user experience, but also provides a legitimate alternative to counterfeit DVDs and illegal services, and sends out a strong anti-piracy message in support of the creative industries.
Aditya Thakur, CEO of Lebara Play, said the opertator had built relationships with some of the leading content companies worldwide, and in the coming months would be announcing further deals to deliver customers even more of the TV and movies they love in their own language. “Lebara Play provides a huge range of content – blending the best of video on demand movies and live TV programming – with a simple and intuitive user experience, at a competitive price,” he explained.
Lebara has signed deals with some of the world’s biggest content players in Europe, Africa and Asia including:
Sun Network, home to Sun TV, KTV and Adithya, the most popular Tamil entertainment channels worldwide;
African Movie Channel – licensed for the first time outside Africa – specialist in new and classic African cinema;
Premium pan-African channel, Ebony Life, and leading Nigerian channel, Silverbird;
Number one French Nollywood movies channel, Nollywood TV;
Top-rating Turkish channel ATV Avrupa, alongside Euro D, Eurostar and TV8 International, plus an extensive catalogue of Turkish movies.
Lebara says the programming combines the best live TV entertainment with free and premium video on demand content, delivering access to more than 150 top-rated television channels and over 3,000 popular movie titles for Tamil, Turkish, French West African and English West African audiences across Europe. HD and SD quality content is available for streaming on mobile, computer and tablet, or via set-top box on a TV set.
Lebara Play will be available in the UK, Germany, Netherlands and France by the end of June. The rest of Europe will be launched over the summer and other territories worldwide by the year-end, with an expanding catalogue to include Romanian, Polish, Hindi and other content packages covering 13 languages.
In common with other of Lebara’s products and services, Lebara Play has flexible payment options. Voucher top-ups are available at local retail outlets, payable with cash or card – alternatively top up online, or in-app direct from your mobile device.
Subscription packages start from £9.99/€9.99 per month for web, tablet and smartphone. The set-top box special introductory price of £149 (standard price £199) includes a year’s unlimited viewing of a chosen subscription package.
The Lebara Play app is available to download for free from Google Play for smartphones or tablets and is coming to iTunes App Store shortly. The service can be accessed on PC or Mac via lebara.com/play, or viewed on TV via the set-top box (available from selected retail stores). Subscribers can register a maximum of three devices to their Lebara Play account, and watch two simultaneously.
Lebara Play’s platform has been developed in partnership with end-to-end content services solutions provider SPB TV.
“We used innovative advanced technology solutions for Lebara Play”, said Kirill Filippov, CEO of SPB TV. “With time-shifting and place-shifting, users can catch up with a show or a movie later or watch it from the start. They can start watching a movie on a smartphone and continue on a TV screen, and watch a TV show as it is simultaneously broadcast,” he advised.
“Our media platform provides an incredibly fast launch, transcoding and streaming anywhere in the world,” said SPB TV’s Co-Founder Sebastian-Justus Schmidt. “SPB TV is proud to be a partner of Lebara and contribute to its vision to be the brand of choice for one billion people by 2020,”
“SPB TV understand our aims for Lebara Play and have been excellent partners leading up to launch. We’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration and adding new features and functionality to deliver an even better customer experience, as we expand the service and release more content,” added Ratheesan.