Leading video entertainment service provider in Africa, MultiChoice, has unfolded plans to expand its content and improve on its services to millions of subscribers across the continent.
The Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice Africa, Tim Jacobs, made this known in a recent meeting with journalists. He said the company would continue to evaluate its pricing structures as part of its plan to fulfill the yearning of customers for a good set of quality content.
Jacobs said, “We are constantly evaluating our cost structures. As part of our business model, we need to take into account the cost of content, relative to our different audiences. There have been massive increases in the cost of content such as the English Premier League football rights, which we have been factored into our pricing.
“We are looking at alternatives, too. There is a strong consumer behaviour (especially in Nigeria) where many consumers are self-employed and therefore, not monthly salary earners. So, we are looking at whether it is viable to address a different type of model or not.”
Explaining why MultiChoice Africa had to move the popular English Premier Football League to premium bouquet, Jacobs said it was due to the failure of a strategy devised by the service provider to cover the cost of the rights for the package.
Since it failed to achieve the subscriber scale required to make that possible at a cheaper price point, he added, the company decided to shift the EPL back to premium bouquet.
Jacobs said the decision was necessary to avoid a situation where price-sensitive Compact Plus subscribers, for example, would have had to take a disproportionately high increase in bouquet pricing to continue to watch the EPL.
He said, “In the latest round of rights negotiations, the EPL rights went up by 70 per cent and we needed to make tough decisions. It was a tough impact on consumers, but looking at consumer affordability, we felt it was better to offer them a sports package at a more affordable price, so we had to re-balance things.”
Also, while assessing the impact of pirates on the operations of MultiChoice Africa, Jacobs described piracy as a massive threat to broadcasters and rights holders, worldwide.
He said, “Pirates are only about enriching themselves. We work with rights holders and broadcasters to stop it, but it’s a moving target because their infrastructure means they can open new portals as we shut others down.
“It is not easy to evaluate how big the impact is, since by definition, a lot of it is underground and spread through social media. Sometimes the challenge is broader – certain competitors broadcast a beam that comes down into Africa. If you have that decoder and smart card that can pick up a service that is not designed to be broadcast in African territories, that’s also piracy because the rights for that territory either haven’t been assigned or they are owned by a mainstream service.”
Aware of complaints coming from subscribers across Africa about its repeat patterns for television, especially for DSTv, the Chief Content Officer of MultiChoice Africa, David Booth, said the underlying goal was to give audiences another opportunity to view missed programmes.
Noting that the viewing market in Africa had become increasingly fragmented, he said, “The challenge for us is balancing fresh hours of content and archive programming. The key is that a repeat is not a repeat if you haven’t seen it.”
Booth said the company had concluded plans to offer four additional pop-up and events channels to its subscribers in 2016. Part of the strategy includes bringing in a kids’ channel from Turner Broadcasting.
From October, Africa Magic viewers can expect to catch exclusive, primetime Ghanaian entertainment content on Africa Magic World. This was revealed by the Regional Director, M-Net West Africa, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, who was also at the press conference.
According to Mba-Uzoukwu, the ‘Ghana block’ will be run as a four-hour primetime content block. Other new developments with the Africa Magic channels include the Africa Magic Original Blockbuster festival, which builds on the original movies project which Africa Magic started in 2013.
The Original Blockbusters initiative aims to create local films that are fit for theatrical release, as well as for broadcast on DStv. The project is expected to allow for more job creation in the content delivery value chain.
Also, the launch of new M-Net channels for East Africa was announced at the meeting. The new channels,Maisha Magic Bongo and Jango Luxo, exclusively created for Tanzania and Angola, respectively, will be launched on 1 October and Ocotober 11, 2015.
The Regional Director, East and Southern Africa and Lusophone countries, Theo Erasmus, said that M-Net’svision was to create channels for each homogenous target market for Southern and Eastern Africa.
“We will also be producing a local version of the international smash hit reality show, The Voice, there,” he said, promising more local content in the near future, from territories including Zambia and Zimbabwe.
From MTV Base, comes new prank show titled You Got Got and the fourth season of MTV Shuga – outside of the hugely-respected MTV MAMA, which has put Africa’s top entertainers on the global stage.
Announcing this, the Channel Director MTV Base, Tim Horwood, said, “We are constantly trying to grow and push new talent and celebrate the continent’s big artists. We have a show called Rate or Hate coming soon, which will give artists who don’t make it onto the playlist, the chance to get some exposure online and, in promo, on-air. People will be able to vote for them, and if the audience demands it, they’ll get their shot on the channel.”
Horwood also said an East African Chart Show would be launched in 2016 to showcase the amazing things happening in the East African music scene.
He said the newest member of the Viacom International Media Network family on DStv – BET – would be growing and incorporating more local content. Since ‘Top Actor SA’ produced excellent talent, the show would be expanded to ‘Top Actor Africa’ to broaden the search for African acting and presenting talent.
A continental version of the prestigious ‘Black Girls Rock’ event is also on the cards and will form part of BET’s impressive music awards events, which include the BET Hip Hop Awards, the Soul Train Awards, the BET Awards and the international version of ‘Black Girls Rock’. The 4th season of ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’, starring Kevin Hart, is coming soon, as ‘’Being Mary Jane.