Netflix has long presented itself as a champion of unfettered access to Internet content. Picture: Reuters

Hong Kong - PCCW, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, is planning a video-on-demand service for South Africa that would compete with Netflix and Naspers’s ShowMax, according to two people familiar with the matter.

PCCW’s HKT unit will unveil the entertainment service as early as next week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the product isn’t public yet.

Telecommunications conglomerate PCCW bought a majority stake in mobile video-on- demand service Vuclip in March and plans to expand the service into new markets, including Africa.

PCCW declined to comment in an e-mail. The company’s shares fell 1.5 percent to HK$4.08 at the close of trading in Hong Kong, giving the media company a value of HK$30.8 billion ($4 billion). The stock is down 23 percent this year.

Streaming services are targeting Africa as wireless networks become more widespread and reliable, allowing the delivery of video in a region where landlines are scarce. Local users access content on mobile devices produced by companies such as Nigeria’s IRoko Partners.

The challenges of capturing an audience of more than a billion includes persuading users to accept the data costs that result from streaming.

Naspers is trying to reduce the cost by planning to allow customers to download content rather than just stream when it expands ShowMax beyond South Africa.