Wednesday, June 10, 2020

MultiChoice to add Netflix and Amazon Video Prime as video streamers, now reaches 19.5 million subscribers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will soon add both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as global video streamers to its DStv platform, with the pay-TV operator that continues to show pay-TV growth in South Africa and across the rest of Africa in sub-Saharan Africa, adding roughly another 900 000 DStv and GOtv subscribers over its last financial year.

MultiChoice's subscriber tally according to its latest 2019/2020 financial results released on Wednesday, is now 19.5 million, with MultiChoice that revealed that it will soon be adding two "major" international streaming services for subscribers - Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

MultiChoice already runs its own Showmax subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service.

By adding international streaming services to it's existing DStv platform MultiChoice has now clearly decided that it will go the "super aggregator" way, similar to what pay-TV services ranging from the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand have done over the past year.

In this way, existing subscribers get access to further streaming services through DStv, paying their monthly bill in local currency for the add-ons, lessening payment friction and providing one place for subscribers to find and watch the content they like.

"We have long been a content aggregator, and this is proof of our aggregator model at work
– providing simplicity, choice and convenience for our customers," says Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO.

"As our industry evolves, we believe that we are well-positioned to benefit from both worlds – a
large, growing pay-TV market in Africa, as well as an emerging over-the-top (OTT)
opportunity, where our own OTT services and aggregation capabilities can drive success."

MultiChoice has shown a 5% increase in subscriber growth in its 2019/2020 financial year, taking it's total pay-TV subscriber base to 19.5 million households.

South Africa still represents MultiChoice biggest and most powerful market with 8.4 million pay-TV households, while the rest of Africa combined represents 11.1 million households.

Besides adding two global streaming services, MultiChoice is also getting ready to roll-out and launch its as-yet-unnamed "DStv dishless", stand-alone DStv streaming service that will mimic its existing direct-to-Home (DTH) service but without the need for any installation.

Covid-19 makes MultiChoice grow
Despite a tough consumer environment, MultiChoice says that its South African business "held up well" - it grew 6% year-on-year in its 2019/2020 financial year, or roughly 500 000 subscribers over a 90-day active basis.

"The impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in South Africa and associated lockdown saw an uplift in subscribers towards the end of March 2020," the pay-TV operator says.

MultiChoice says it saw "strong, ongoing growth in Connected Video users on both the DStv Now and Showmax platforms as online consumption increases" with Showmax that now has more than 50% local content.

"The aftermath of the virus and low oil price, although uncertain in quantum, will likely have a negative impact on the economies of many of the MultiChoice Group’s markets, with weaker
currencies and higher levels of unemployment expected," says Calvo Mawela.

"While macro-economic implications are largely uncontrollable, we are taking steps wherever we can to counter potential future headwinds. These include implementing further cost savings initiatives across the organization and continuing to do what we do best – provide our customers with great entertainment."

MultiChoice says that over the last financial year it has produced 3 850 additional hours of local content, with its local content library that now exceeds 56 800 hours. Local content now accounts for 40% of the total content spend.

MultiChoice is doing two new co-productions, Blood Psalms and Rogue, plans to launch 4 further new local content TV channels including a new action movie channel, and plans to further ramp up local content production in 2021.

DStv Premium base continues to shrink
MultiChoice's base of DStv Premium subscribers - it's most valuable top-tier subscribers continues to shrink in South Africa.

MultiChoice that combined DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers into a single category, has shown a 4% decline year-on-year, or 100 000 subscribers, in terms of the subscriber mix. MultiChoice says that DStv Premium pricing impacted growth.

ALSO READ: MultiChoice wants to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for TV content, next DStv Explora will provide access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video OTT streamers.
ALSO READ: EXPLAINER. How and why MultiChoice by adding video streamers to its DStv offering is finally pivoting into becoming a pay-TV Sweets from Heaven.  
ALSO READ: This is how MultiChoice changed its 2019/2020 financial results presentation in which it first revealed that it is adding Netflix and Amazon Prime Video ... and then deleted and altered its presentation.