Tag: MultiChoice

Questions around MultiChoice’s executive exodus

Source: MyBroadband

Four high-profile MultiChoice executives have resigned or have left the company in recent weeks, raising questions as to what is behind these departures.

This week, MultiChoice announced that the CEO of its South African operations, Mark Rayner, had resigned to “further his journey outside the group”.

The company said Rayner will leave MultiChoice on 30 November 2020 and that his successor will be announced “in the near future”.

This follows shortly after the resignation of MultiChoice Connected Video CEO Niclas Ekdahl in June to “pursue personal interests”.

Yolisa Phahle will take over Ekdahl’s position, in addition to running the General Entertainment division.

Other departures include MultiChoice Group chief strategy officer Max Krudop and MultiChoice Connected Video head of communications Richard Boorman.

The exodus of high-profile executives at MultiChoice sparked speculation that there may be something more to these resignations than meets the eye.

One theory is that MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela’s management style and strategic direction for the company led to the resignations.

There is also speculation that some of the resignations and departures were not planned, but this could not be confirmed.

 

By Thinus Ferreira for News24

South Africa’s Competition Commission has started an investigation into MultiChoice that has announced plans to add global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video alongside its own Showmax service.

In its latest financial year results announced in mid-June, MultiChoice revealed that it plans to add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services to a new streaming app carousel that it wants to launch for DStv subscribers.

This new streaming app vertical will house separate blocks or apps, incorporating DStv Now, Showmax, Joox, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video – and in future even more global streaming services like possibly Disney+, HBO Max, Spotify and others – as MultiChoice evolves to become what in the pay-TV industry is termed a “super-aggregator” of video content.

How it will work, and already works elsewhere in the world, is that consumers can still subscribe separately and directly with these streaming services, but can also do so through their traditional pay-TV service that gives access to their rivals in win-win “frenemy” content distribution agreements.

MultiChoice wants to provide DStv subscribers who sign up for one or more of these SVOD services – for however long – the convenience of one monthly bill paid in rand and the streaming service amount(s) just showing up as an additional invoice line-item.

How MultiChoice benefits is that by offering DStv subscribers seamless access to streaming service competitors but through its interface and platform, MultiChoice gets to keep a DStv subscriber within its own eco-system. MultiChoice also gets paid a commission by a SVOD service for every subscriber who signs up to each of these services.

How the pay-TV subscriber benefits is that the tacked-on streaming service subscription, paid in local currency, is usually a bit cheaper than going direct as part of a promotion to entice them to try and use it, and because the pay-TV operator because of scale gets a “wholesale” price.

The streaming service benefits by getting additional revenue and new subscribers through leveraging the scale of the pay-TV operator and piggybacking on the more trusted local brand. It lowers what is called “product friction” – potential customers to scared to try something new or unwilling to complete a new registration and sign-up and cumbersome login process.

Traditional pay-TV operators in the United States like Comcast, in the United Kingdom like Sky, Canal+ in France and several others worldwide have already taken the leap to integrate and offer streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and others that are actually competitors, into their existing services and making them available through their platforms and user interfaces.

MultiChoice plans to take the wrapping off its latest DStv Explora decoder next Wednesday in a media launch that it will broadcast on one of its own DStv channels, with the decoder that will likely be 4K-resolution capable.

It will likely also come with a DStv remote control that will have a dedicated Netflix or video streaming button, similar to elsewhere in the world, taking DStv subscribers directly to the streaming app carousel where DStv Now, Showmax, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and future streaming services will all appear stacked next to each other.

It’s unclear how the new Competition Commission investigation might scupper or alter MultiChoice’s showcase plans for next week.

MultiChoice was asked for comment regarding the Competition Commission investigation into MultiChoice’s SVOD expansion plans, and how the investigation will impact the Randburg-based pay-TV operator’s plans for the consumer roll-out of these rival services on its platform.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s group executive for corporate affairs, told Channel24 on Wednesday in response to the media enquiry that MultiChoice is unable to comment at this stage.

Siyabulela Makunga, Competition Commission spokesperson, told Channel24 about its investigation of MultiChoice wanting to add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that “we’re not commenting on the issue because it is still at a very sensitive stage”.

He couldn’t say when the investigation started, or when it might be finished. “It’s still very early,” he said.

We know this was a long read and your time is precious. Did you know you can now listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

 

DStv offers up free channels

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

DStv Now has made a selection of channels available to all South Africans for free.

DStv Now is an online streaming service which is bundled with DStv’s satellite broadcasting service, and allows subscribers to watch TV and shows from mobile devices, smart TVs, laptops, and more.

The new free channel package is available to all South Africans, however, and not only DStv subscribers.

The company said that in response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, a number of DStv Now channels are no longer locked behind a subscription and are available to anyone with an Internet connection.

DStv channels which are now available to stream for free are:

100 – DStv
180 – People’s Weather
238 – SuperSport Play
313 – PBS Kids
320 – Channel O
343 – TBN
400 – BBC World News
401 – CNN
402 – Sky News
403 – eNCA
404 – SABC News
405 – Newzroom Afrika
414 – Euronews Now

Staying informed about the latest news on the virus is the first step in stopping its spread, said the company. For this reason, it has made several 24-hour news channels available.

In addition to these channels, episodes of popular series are also available via the Catch Up portal on the free service, including Igazi, The River, Isibaya, Binnelanders, Suidooster, and Die Ware Naarheid.

MultiChoice building catches fire

Source: EWN

MultiChoice on Tuesday evacuated its headquarters in Randburg while the Johannesburg Fire Department tried to extinguish a blaze in the building.

Details were still sketchy but Eyewitness News confirmed with the satellite TV broadcaster that no one was injured.

It is not yet clear what started the blaze.

MultiChoice’s group executive for corporate affairs, Joe Heshu, said the affected buildings were all evacuated but the fire was isolated to the technical area.

“The fire department is on-site. No employees have been harmed and we expect no interruptions in service or customer care,” Heshu said.

Staff said the fire began just after 1 pm in the afternoon.

The building was evacuated as a precautionary measure and staff would only be allowed back inside once it’s been declared safe.

The extent of the damage was not yet known.

According to The Sowetan, “The fire was mostly on the ventilation system on the roof of the building. This is not the new MultiChoice building, but the old one – the technical [operations] building.”

YouTube to break sports broadcast monopoly

Source: IOL

YouTube has announced that sports fans now have access to LIVE and Video On Demand (VOD) streaming.

Users can stream basketball, rugby, cricket and football events including the 2019 NBA Finals, Women’s World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, UEFA Champions and Europa leagues, ABSA Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Serie A.

Sports consumption on YouTube in the EMEA region is growing fast. In 2018 alone, YouTube saw a 70 percent increase in views of sports and fitness related content — totalling more than 61 billion views.

In Africa, sports content on YouTube is both broad and deep with YouTube delivering evergreen sporting highlights alongside new and emerging sports experiences like home fitness and 79 percent of viewers saying that YouTube has sport and fitness content they can’t find anywhere else.

“It goes without saying that Africa is sport-loving continent, so it makes perfect sense for us to bring African sports fans what they love. Our audience is constantly looking for sports content on YouTube,” said YouTube content partnerships lead Dayo Olopade.

Olopade added, “In 2018, we saw a 70 percent increase of views in Sports & Fitness content on YouTube across Europe, the Middle East and Africa with content garnering more than 61 billion views. Today we are here to say we hear you and we are more than happy to bring you the content you desire, in partnership with NBA Africa and our other partners”.

South African fans can now catch NBA basketball fixtures, La Liga 123 matches and UFC matches LIVE on YouTube, while the remaining sporting events will be pre-packaged video on demand.

Pay-TV MultiChoice has announced plans to retrench more than 2 000 employees in the call- and walk-in centres of its business, due to a “strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model”.

In a statement, the company said that customers are “increasingly moving away from traditional voice calls and visits to walk-in centres and adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company.

2 194 employees were given notice on retrenchment, but MultiChoice Group chief executive Calvo Mawela said the restructuring will make new roles available “for multi-skilled employees with the expertise, skills and technological prowess to enhance the customer experience”.

However, media worker trade union ICT said in a statement that “the Union has not been officially informed, which makes the process unlawful”.

By Tom Head for The South African

Naspers, the holding group of Africa’s biggest pay-TV organisation MultiChoice, have decided to list the business on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The move comes as traditional media outlets consider ways to stem the momentum of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

The shares will go live on the JSE on 27 February 2019. Investors will be able put their money into MultiChoice if they believe it’s a sound financial investment; something that CEO Calvo Mawela firmly believes is already true:

“With strong financials, the flexibility of an ungeared balance sheet and deep local knowledge, we hope to deliver excellent returns to shareholders over time.”

MultiChoice to receive boost in its battle with Netflix et al
But how will this make it more competitive with the likes of Netflix? Well, put quite simply, opening up a more diverse range of investment will eventually improve the worth of MultiChoice. Naspers are now narrowing a discount between its own market value and the value of its stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent, according to MoneyWeb.

By floating the shares on the JSE, an increase in net worth will allow MultiChoice to spend more money on quality programming and any potential streaming developments of their own in the future.

What is the MultiChoice share price estimated to be worth?
Meanwhile, South African Market Insights (SAMI) told us that this is perhaps the best time for Naspers to make this move. While subscriber numbers are up, their total revenue growth has limped along at a slow pace. They also estimate that MultiChoice will be worth R211 a share when they go public.

“MultiChoice has seen strong subscriber numbers grow over the last three years – up by 29.4% – while revenue over the same period only grew by 1.4%. Their trading profit margins are in decline too.”

“But looking at the number of shares MultiChoice plans on issuing, it will give the company a valuation of R94.8 billion, which will make MultiChoice the 21st largest firm listed on the JSE at around R211 a share.”

What happens next?
MC have approximately 13 million subscribers in Mzansi. No company is too big to fail, but SAMI have warned that there will be a “feeding frenzy” when the shares are first made public, as investors scramble to get a slice of the pie at the earliest opportunity. We will only get a true reading of its popularity a few months after it has listed.

DStv switches off its mobile TV service

Source: Tech Financials

MultiChoice has announced that it is ending its support for DStv Mobile service.

The TV operator company said in a letter to customers that the service will end on 31 October 2018.

DStv Mobile service was launched in 2010 as a DVB-H technology, which was fresh and new at a time.

The company said it’s not feasible to continue to maintain a separate land-based, dedicated network for this service alone, when an even better service can be offered to our customers on DStv Now via the internet and WiFi.

“While the DStv Mobile service will stop completely on 31 October 2018, we’re starting to switch off some of our transmitters already. As this might impact the reception of some of our customers, we are no longer billing for our DStv Mobile service from 1 September 2018,” the company said.

“We’ll also cancel any Decoder Insurance against DStv Mobile devices.”

The company said it has recycling bins available at its branches in Randburg, Durban and Cape Town where customers can drop off their mobile device to recycle. “You can also drop it off at any of our DStv agencies or recycle it through your local recycling centre,” said the company.

Naspers to unbundle and list MultiChoice

By Nick Hedley for Business Day

The transformation of Naspers, which was founded more than a century ago to produce Dutch-language newspaper De Burger, into an online-only behemoth is almost complete.

Africa’s most valuable company, which owns a 31% interest in Chinese internet giant Tencent, said on Monday it planned to unbundle its pay-TV business MultiChoice onto the JSE.

Naspers will hand its interest in the DStv operator to its shareholders.

Investors cheered the news. After falling 3.2% earlier in the day, in line with Tencent’s decline in Hong Kong, Naspers rallied to close 0.7% up at R3,206.42, valuing the company at R1.4-trillion.

Naspers hopes to list the new entity MultiChoice Group, which includes its local and rest-of-Africa pay-TV business along with Showmax Africa and security company Irdeto, in the first half of 2019. The unbundling will cap off a remarkable transformation at Naspers, which was mostly a publishing and pay-TV business until its 2001 investment in China’s Tencent.

Naspers would not raise funds through the deal, said CEO Bob van Dijk, but its shareholders would benefit as the market currently ignored MultiChoice when valuing the group.

In its sum-of-the-parts valuation, US bank JP Morgan calculated that Naspers’ majority-owned MultiChoice unit is worth $8bn. More than 90% of that value sits in SA, according to the bank. That implies that MultiChoice Group is worth more than Shoprite.

Van Dijk said Naspers plans to give MultiChoice SA’s BEE investors another 5% stake in the local pay-TV business. “Besides unlocking value for our shareholders, maybe more important we think it will also unlock value for [BEE scheme] Phuthuma Nathi, which is already one of the most successful broad-based BEE schemes.”

He said Naspers will continue to invest in its SA e-commerce businesses, which include Takealot, Mr D Food, PayU and AutoTrader. “In the last year, we invested more than R3bn in the e-commerce businesses in SA alone. We expect to continue to invest and we’re looking at interesting prospects.”

It will also retain its interest in Media24, which is moving quickly into online publishing. The pay-TV market was poised for further growth despite pressure from internet-based rivals such as Netflix.

“Even in markets like Europe, people still have traditional TV services and on top of that people have connected services. In Africa the story is even more positive — you see very significant growth in traditional TV … as well as decent take-up already in SA of [streaming services] DStv Now and Showmax. I’m confident it’s a growth story.

“I feel confident about putting the business on its own legs.”

Robert Pietropaolo, a trader at Unum Capital, said the unbundling would be positive for Naspers “but the pressure will certainly be on MultiChoice to stay competitive”.

“MultiChoice themselves have already started cutting their headcount and they have started offering lower-tier packages, which unfortunately does not bring in the desired revenues. MultiChoice will not only have to be nimble from now on, but I think they may have to re-invent themselves to be competitive,” Pietropaolo said.

In the year ended March, the pay-TV operator lost 41,000 premium subscribers across its African markets. Even though the total subscriber base grew — MultiChoice added 563,000 users in SA in the year to March — this growth came from far less profitable lower-cost packages. However, the company remains highly cash generative. Over the same period, MultiChoice generated revenues of R47.1bn and trading profits of R6.1 bn.

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela said the company had slowed the decline in high-margin premium subscribers. It lost more than 100,000 of these customers in its 2017 financial year but reduced that number to about 40,000 in 2018.

“Our focus on Premium is beginning to bear fruit.… We’ll continue to focus on Premium to ensure that we do not see further decline in Premium subscribers going forward.”

Job cuts loom at DStv

By Chris Forrester for Advanced Television

According to a report in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, pay-TV operator DStv is laying off up to 200 staffers in a move to save cash amidst increased competition.

A DStv spokesperson said the move was in order to create a leaner and more agile business. Existing staff are being asked to reapply for their jobs, says the newspaper.

DStv’s parent, MultiChoice has lost some 41,000 Premium top-tier subscribers in the year to March 31st.

MultiChoice has made no secret of its annoyance that rivals such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are eating away at its core subscribers and yet operate without having to fulfil the licensing obligations faced by MultiChoice.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela has called for a change in regulations to cover the new OTT entrants.

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