Tag Archives: Canal+ Group

Canal+ ups its stake in MultiChoice

Blood Psalms

France’s Canal+ Group has increased its stake in African pay TV company MultiChoice Group to more than 26%, having almost doubled its interest in the company over the past year.

Canal+ has gradually upped its stake in the South African company behind the DStv and GOtv pay TV platforms since it first acquired a 6.5% interest in October 2020.

A year ago, the Paris-based broadcasting giant announced that it owned 15% stake in MultiChoice; this rose to 18.44% in June this year, then 20.12% a month later.

A statement to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) this week revealed that Canal+ has further increased this to 26.26%. Canal+ is owned by Vivendi, a mass media holding company that also owns Gameloft, Havas and Prisma Media.

As required by South Africa’s Companies Act, MultiChoice has filed the required notice with the JSE’s Takeover Regulation Panel. If Canal+ acquires a 35% interest in MutliChoice, it would trigger a mandatory offer to shareholders.

However, whether or not Canal+ and Vivendi owner Vincent Bollore intends to make an offer to acquire MultiChoice, it would face some major hurdles, given South Africa’s tight restrictions over the foreign ownership of broadcasters.

“While the group regularly engages investors and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community, its policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders, nor on its interactions with them,” said MultiChoice this week.

Canal+ and MultiChoice have worked together in recent years, coproducing shows such as the South African action-drama series Spinners (8×50’) and gritty Kenyan police procedural Crime & Justice, both made with MultiChoice’s streamer Showmax.

Showmax and Canal+’s African OTT platform MyCanal also coproduced 10-episode South African drama Blood Psalms, based on a pre-colonial Xhosa legend. Canal+ also operates Canal+ Afrique, an African version of Canal+ available mainly in the francophone countries of Central and West Africa.

MultiChoice is backed by African internet company Naspers.

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AUB, Canal+ work against ACON piracy

Officials from the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) and French broadcasting giant Canal+ Group discussed issues relating to TV signal piracy during a recent meeting held ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (ACON) football tournament.

Grégoire Ndjaka

With the 2021 tournament set to take place in January and February next year after being postponed due to Covid, the meeting was aimed at ensuring technical and legal measures are put in place to secure the signal of African channels broadcasting the tournament.

According to the AUB, piracy was a significant problem during the last ACON, which was held in Egypt in 2019. African broadcasters spend significant money to acquire the rights to show the games, while also relying on ad revenue earned during their coverage of the tournament.

AUB CEO Grégoire Ndjaka said: “Our permanent concern is the protection of TV signal. The fight ought to be carried at all levels. Are you allowed to screen the match? If yes, there is no problem. Secure your signal. But if you don’t have a broadcast contract, should you be allowed to operate illegally while others are paying? That’s the problem.”

From a technical point of view, Alexandre Gruner, director of channel relations and partnerships at Canal+, said; “If we have compelling evidence and take note of any illegal activity on Canal+ bouquet concerning AFCON or the FWC [next year’s Fifa World Cup], rest assured, we will suspend your signal.”

Sebastien Punturello, MD of Canal+ Senegal, added: “I spend at least 20-30% of my time fighting signal piracy. For several years, we have actively led the battle thanks to the support of local authorities, our relations, various ministries and the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council – CNRA Senegal.

“Almost everywhere on the continent, television signal piracy is developing using handcrafted techniques, helped by ICTs and other rival groups whose audience rates sometimes compete with those of Canal+, whereas they haven’t acquired the right to broadcast in certain territories in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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Africa Channel picks up Rok Studios films

International cable and streaming network The Africa Channel has picked up hundreds of Nollywood films from Canal+ Group-owned Nigerian prodco Rok Studios.

Narendra Reddy

The deal was closed by distributor Thema, also part of Canal+, and will include current films and plus hundreds of hours of Nollywood releases from 2015 to 2020.

More than 370 premium titles, including The Secretary, Ovy’s Voice, Picture Perfect, Dear Mummy B and A Woman’s Scorn, will be offered by The Africa Channel in North America and the Caribbean, while most of the content will also be available on SVoD service Demand Africa and free, ad-supported streaming platforms globally.

Narendra Reddy, executive VP and general manager of The Africa Channel, said: “We are delighted to partner with Rok Studios to bring North American audiences this expanded selection of content from Nollywood – the second-largest movie industry in the world. Canal + and Thema TV’s commitment to presenting multicultural content to global audiences aligns with our own, and this is a first step in building an expanded relationship with one of the pre-eminent media companies in the world.”

The Africa Channel and Demand Africa showcase the African continent’s leading English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies, cultural and historical content.

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eSportsONE arrives in Ethiopia

German broadcaster Sport1’s new channel eSportsONE is now available on the new Canal+ pay TV platform in Ethiopia, following a distribution deal between Sport1 and Canal+ Group.

eSportsONE, which launched in November last year, is mainly distributed in Europe, where it is already available in Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway and Sweden.

The channel is offered in the Desta package on Canal+ Ethiopia and features over 1,000 live hours of international eSports events per year, as well as exclusive in-house analysis formats. Its content partners are ESL, NBA 2K League, Psyonix and Activision Blizzard.

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Canal+, iRoko launch SVoD in Africa

Vivendi-owned Canal+ Group has partnered with Nigerian video-on-demand company iRoko to launch a mobile-first SVoD service for French-speaking Africa.

Jacques du Puy

Set to roll out in the coming months, the service is part of Canal+’s new strategy of expanding its footprint globally. According to the company, sub-Saharan Africa counts 250 million French speakers across 23 countries and as many as 165 million smartphones were thought to be in circulation up to 2020.

Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ Overseas, said: “Now that Canal+ is close to having two million pay TV households in Africa, our ambition is to widen our audience to those whose mobile is the main entertainment device.

“iRoko’s original approach integrating popular content production and mobile SVoD perfectly matches our group’s entertainment vision in French-speaking Africa. This will also allow us to make more accessible the content that we specifically produce and design for the African market.”

Jason Njoku

iRoko CEO Jason Njoku added that his company has been “committed to leading viewers to content they will love and Canal+ Overseas shares our vision, translated into French. Canal+ has over 20 years’ experience of delivering content to Francophone Africa, we have an unrivalled Nollywood content catalogue and have pioneered VoD in Africa.”

The on-demand service will be accessed via an Android App with download functionality, aimed at building a mobile-only subscriber base and will showcase popular French-language TV content. The app will be entirely translated into French and all content will be in French.

Canal+ and iRoko previously signed content distribution deals for linear TV channels including Nollywood TV. Last year Canal+ acquired Nollywood broadcaster and production studio ROK from iRoko for an undisclosed sum as part of a move to boost its local production in Africa.

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iRoko turns to North America, Europe

Nigerian video-on-demand company iRoko is planning to target markets in North America and Europe rather than focusing on African growth.

Jason Njoku

The move is part of efforts to reduce ‘cash burn’ and curb losses caused by, among other things, Covid-19, which have led to the axing of around 150 jobs.

Jason Njoku, iRoko’s CEO, said that even though international subscriptions grew by 200% in April, consumer confidence ebbed and collapsed as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.

The pandemic came at a time when the company’s revenues were being further squeezed by the latest rounds of naira devaluations and an amendment to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission code regarding payments to artists.

“All of the macro and individual issues plaguing West Africa were essentially not major issues in the West. Yes, jobs were being lost. Yes, economies were contracting, but with all the stimuli leaders were injecting, it made the impact on the average person marginal,” said Njoku.

“Our annual ARPU [average revenue per user] internationally is US$25 to US$30. When people talk to me about Netflix and its impact globally, and then in Africa, I always smile. My response is the same. Globally, streaming media is booming. In Africa, it is regressing.

“iRoko is now ‘pausing the burn’ and plans to hunker down and see what the next 18 months brings. Even after pushing incredibly hard in Africa for the last five years, our international business represents 80% of our revenue today. So by taking out Africa growth-related costs, we cut our US$300,000-per-month burn to less than US$50,000 a month. Still high, but once things normalise we should have a clear path to free cash flow and profits in 2021.

“We still believe in Nigeria, we still believe in Ghana, we still believe in Africa. It’s a strange thing to realise that even after almost nine years with iRokoTV, five exclusively focused in Africa, we still may be too early for Africa.”

Last year, iRoko sold its African film studio and international TV network ROK to French audiovisual firm Canal+ Group, which bought the company to strengthen its content production reach across Africa.

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France’s Canal+ acquires ROK

France-based Canal+ Group has acquired Nollywood broadcaster and production studio ROK for an undisclosed sum as part of a move to boost its local production in Africa.

Mary Njoku

The deal was struck with ROK’s Nigeria-based parent company Iroko, which has exited the production and broadcast subsidiary while retaining full ownership of Francophone African SVoD platform Iroko+, which was previously a joint venture with Canal+.

ROK claims to reach some 15 million pay TV subscribers across the DSTV and GOTV platforms in Africa with its ROK channels and has so far produced over 540 movies and 25 original TV series, making it one of the most prolific production houses in Nollywood.

Under Canal+’s ownership, ROK will produce “thousands more hours of Nollywood content to deliver movies and original TV series” for Canal+’s audiences in French-speaking Africa, according to the French firm. The acquisition also includes ROK’s linear pay channels.

Iroko, which also owns and operates the Iroko SVoD app across Anglophone Africa and around the world, launched ROK in 2013 to produce content for its various platforms. Canal+ Group will continue to collaborate with Iroko, with non-exclusive content distribution of ROK content via Iroko’s SVoD app.

As part of the deal with Canal+, ROK founder Mary Njoku – who is married to Iroko founder and CEO Jason Njoku – will continue as director general of ROK Productions SAS, and retain a shareholding in the company.

“ROK has captured the imagination of millions of movie fans and they have truly supported us as we’ve grown the company to celebrate and enjoy our African culture,” she said.

“I’m excited to be taking our platform on the next stage of its journey with Canal+ Group, which shares our passion for creating original content and supporting new talent, and together we have ambitious plans for the future.”

Jacques du Puy, CEO of Canal+ International, added: “Through this acquisition, Canal+ Group is very happy to develop and enhance the catalogue of Nollywood content and expand the ROK brand inside and outside the African continent.”

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