Tag Archives: MultiChoice

MultiChoice SA changes leadership

South African pay TV operator MultiChoice has announced changes to its top management team.

Nyiko Shiburi

The company has appointed Nyiko Shiburi as CEO of its South African operations. Shiburi started his MultiChoice career at DStv Mobile as a project manager in 2007 having been involved in decoder and broadcast technology product development.

“He ably dealt with macro issues such as economic meltdown, drought that impacted electricity supply, tax issues, currency devaluations, regulatory issues, acquiring new licences, political and people challenges, and has shown resilience and nimbleness,” said MultiChoice group CEO Calvo Mawela.

“Shiburi has been the company’s regional director for southern Africa for the past two-and-a-half years and has had to navigate the complexity of multiple territories and multiple businesses each uniquely different and uniquely complex.”

Fhulu Badugela, a former group executive head of human resources at MultiChoice Africa and operations director at M-Net, has been appointed regional director for southern Africa markets.

Calvo Mawela

“[Badugela’s] leadership and broader MultiChoice Group exposure has seen Fhulu achieve a great track record of leading operational excellence and enabling a high performance culture, and will help us drive forward the MultiChoice Africa Holdings business turnaround,” said Mawela.

Marc Jury takes up the role of CEO of the SuperSport division, responsible for managing negotiations and acquiring all sports-related programming across the SuperSport channels as well as overseeing the marketing of that content.

He was previously head of commercial and marketing for Cricket SA, commercial executive at sports marketing firm SAIL, MD for IFM Sport Marketing Surveys SA and an account director at United Media Entertainment Group in London.

“Marc has always had a great affinity to sport and this, together with his passion for motivating people and getting the best out of those around him, makes him the best candidate for the role,” Mawela added.

Lastly, Clement O’Reilly takes over as group executive head of human resources, while Gideon Khobane, current CEO of SuperSport, is now group executive for general entertainment, which is responsible for programming across all the pay operator’s platforms.

Shiburi and Jury will assume their new roles on December 1.

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Canal+ ups stake in MultiChoice

French broadcasting giant Canal+ Group has increased its stake in African pay TV company MultiChoice to 6.5%.

Shares in the South Africa-based company, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), spiked upon the news during Monday morning trading and were reportedly up 8.2% at R110.84 apiece at 10.39 today.

MultiChoice said: “Groupe Canal+ became shareholders in MultiChoice Group in April this year. We received notification that their shareholding has now increased to 6.5%, thereby exceeding the 5% threshold that requires us to inform our shareholders through the JSE, as well as the takeover regulation panel.

“We remain committed to acting in the best interests of all our shareholders and to create sustainable long-term value for them. As a publicly held company, MultiChoice regularly engages with its strategic partners and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community. The group’s policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders nor on its interactions with them.”

Canal+ Group is owned and controlled by French conglomerate Vivendi. As well as producing film and TV content, it has a significant pay television business and a film library of more than 5,000 titles. It is headquartered in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris.

MultiChoice is backed by African internet company Naspers. The pay TV firm already partners with Canal+ on programming initiatives, such as the recently announced 10-episode South African drama series Blood Psalms.

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Celestial Tiger Kix off in Africa

Kix will feature classic Bruce Lee movies such as The Way of the Dragon

Asian TV operator Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE)’s action entertainment channel Kix is set to launch on MultiChoice’s DStv in Africa.

Kix’s launch on DStv across Africa on October 1 will mark CTE’s first foray into the continent.

The channel features a mix of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West, spanning 1960s to the present day, aired in English.

John Ugbe

These include kung fu classics from the Shaw Brothers library, action comedies, adventure and fantasy action franchises and action thrillers. The movies features the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee, as well as other Asian action stars.

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria’s MD, said the channel will expand its slate, offering viewers more variety.

In addition to DStv, Kix will also be made available on MultiChoice’s Showmax streaming service from October 2, with 30 titles being offered on demand every month.

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Edo-based series set for DStv

MultiChoice channel Africa Magic is lining up a new series that has been filmed in the Nigerian state of Edo.

Ukinebo Dare

Enakhe comes as part of Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki’s drive to boost creative industry in the region, with 90% of the show shot in Edo State.

This initiative is a product of the Edo Creative Hub, which was formed after a meeting between stakeholders in the industry who had asked for more robust and constructive engagement to boost the state’s status in the sector. Enakhe deals with family feuds and illicit business deals.

Ukinebo Dare, executive director of the Edo State Skills Development Agency, said: “This project is being supported by EdoJobs and is introducing creative talent in Edo to the world, as well as telling the world that Edo is poised to host first-class productions.”

Dare said Enakhe’s showrunner, Victor Aghahowa, was born in Edo and was one of those hosted by Obaseki on International Youth Day in 2018.

“The interaction was held with various illustrious sons and daughters of Edo in Nigeria’s creative industry,” Dare said of that day in 2018. “His Excellency’s message to them was one of encouragement to join hands in building the new Edo and take the state to its pride of place in the world, something they were all passionate about.”

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MultiChoice, Televisa launch novela channel

MultiChoice has partnered with Mexican broadcaster Televisa to launch a pop-up channel on the African firm’s pay TV platform DStv.

John Ugbe

TLNovelas features Mexican telenovelas of various genres, offering romantic comedies, epic dramas and binge-worthy stories aimed at different viewing demographics.

Titles include flagship show Love Spell (Sortilegio) as well as Teresa, My Heart is Yours (Mi Corazón es Tuyo), Passion & Power (Pasión y Poder) and Fooled Into Love (Amores con Trampa).

John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “As Africa’s most-loved storyteller, we are unwavering in our commitment to ensure we continue to find the best available content and stories to delight our customers, both now and into the future. We endeavour to deliver both world-class international content as well as the very best in local content, giving our loyal customers a never-ending selection of outstanding entertainment.”

Fernando Muñiz, general director of Televisa Networks and Televisa International, said: “This channel launch showcases the growing value of the TLNovelas brand worldwide, with the English version of TLNovelas. Televisa continues its position as a leader in the pay TV market by offering content with the best quality.

“We continue to experience rapid growth all over the world due to partnerships with outstanding media players such as MultiChoice, and we are excited to take the next step of this expansion around the world.”

TLNovelas is available from now until August 2021 on channel 133 and is open to DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact subscribers. Televisa is the largest broadcaster in Mexico and also delivers satellite TV via subsidiary Televisa Networks.

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MultiChoice, M-Net roll out local channels

Pay TV operator MultiChoice and its pay TV channel M-Net are working to roll out new local entertainment TV channels in African countries including Ghana, Ethiopia and Mozambique over the coming months and into 2021.

New channel Ghana M-Net will carry M-Net original productions including a local telenovela, reality shows and comedy and will be positioned as a flagship network for DStv subscribers in the country.

The companies will also launch a general entertainment channel for Ethiopia, where M-Net is already working on its first telenovela in the Amharic language, as well as a lifestyle channel for Africa similar to Discovery’s HGTV and BBC Lifestyle.

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment, said: “Now it’s time to showcase to ourselves the best of our fashion, the best of our cooking and the best of the way in which we live.”

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MultiChoice SA chief Rayner resigns

Pay TV company MultiChoice has announced the resignation of its CEO for South Africa, Mark Rayner.

Mark Rayner

In a statement, Multichoice said: “It is with great regret that today we announce the departure of Mark Rayner from MultiChoice, effective November 30. Having been part of the MultiChoice family for the past 14 years leading in various parts of the group, Mark has now decided to further his journey outside the group.

“Over the years, Mark has been a key part of driving growth, championing product innovation and pushing customer focus. We wish him well in the future. An announcement on Mark’s successor will be made in the near future.”

Rayner joined MultiChoice in March 2007 where he served as the chief financial officer of DStv Mobile until September 2008, after which he took the helm at the company.

As CEO of DStv Mobile, he oversaw the introduction of various mobile television services across the African continent. He was appointed as chief operating officer of MultiChoice South Africa in November 2013 and was promoted to CEO in May 2016.

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MultiChoice invests in Ethiopia

Pay TV company MultiChoice Group is set to expand its investment and support the production of local content in Ethiopia.

Calvo Mawela
The investment is part of MultiChoice’s hyper-local content strategy to continue its investment in local content production and aggregation. Ethiopia is recognised as having huge growth potential with its large population (second only to Nigeria in Africa), impressive GDP growth and its largely untapped potential within the ICT sector.

Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice Group, said: “Our commitment to Ethiopia can be seen throughout our tenure. Unlike many other businesses, we remained in the country since we launched our local operation nearly 30 years ago. We have built a truly Ethiopian business which has delivered solid results for us over the years. The strong foundation we have established through our local business, knowledge and expertise, positions us with a distinct advantage as we seek to unlock opportunities presenting themselves.

“Ethiopia is open for business and has demonstrated its commitment to supporting businesses around the world. We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to Ethiopia through the development of local skills and industries, and through exciting plans for content that speaks to Ethiopians in their own voice.”

The company recently launched an Ethiopian channel, Zee Alem, on its DStv platform, invested in dubbing international content in Amharic as well as conducted training for SuperSport commentators in vernacular for local sports broadcasts.

“By continuing to invest in our local markets we intend to create lasting value for the local creative industry, with benefits including improved quality in the industry arising from training in our stringent technical standards; opportunities for local content creators; distribution of content in local languages; promotion of local talent who are able to build their individual brands; on-the-job learning for those involved in productions; and new content which we can license to other channels.

“In the aftermath of Covid-19, our commitment to the long term, and to creating local value chains and local content, is more important than ever. Multichoice is a business born and bred in Africa, and we are proud to reinvest in the continent for lasting socio-economic impact.”

MultiChoice has access to 19.5 million households across the continent with a library of more than 56,000 hours of local content in 17 languages for distribution via 33 proprietary entertainment channels in 50 countries.

In 2013, local content spending as a percentage of total general entertainment content spend was 30%. In 2020, it was 40% and is set to reach 45% by 2022.

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MultiChoice to add five channels

African pay TV company MultiChoice is launching five new channels alongside releasing a pair of new decoders.

Calvo Mawela

The Naspers-owned firm’s new channels focus on a range of genres, from telenovelas and kids’ entertainment to action programming and Korean dramas.

Tlnovelas will present an array of English-dubbed Mexican telenovelas from Latin America’s second largest producer and the channel’s owner, Televisa. It will run from September on DStv channel 133.

ZooMoo, a Canadian kids’ preschool channel from Blue Ant Media and aimed at 2-7s, will launch as a pop-up channel from October 1 to March 31 on DStv channel 314.

Kix is a Sony Pictures Television channel dedicated to action, martial arts and thriller movies. It will launch on October 1 on DStv channel 114.

Timeless Drama is a Turkish telenovela channel from SPI/Filmbox. It will launch in November on DStv channel 123.

Finally, TVN is a South Korean drama channel from CJ ENM. It will launch in November on DStv channel 134.

As well as the new channels, MultiChoice has unveiled two new decoders. The DStv Explora Ultra looks like a bigger set-top box and will carry third-party video streaming services in 4K, while the Streama decoder comes with a small remote control featuring YouTube and Showmax buttons, allowing subscribers to stream content from DStv, Showmax, YouTube and also stream music via the Joox app.

“Our DStv Explora Ultra brings the best of two worlds together by introducing streaming apps, adding depth to the entertainment offering available,” said MultiChoice in a statement. “It also sees the addition of built-in WiFi, making it easier to connect to the internet. It includes features previously available to PVR users, including Catch Up, Box Office and Showmax.”

MultiChoice hasn’t disclosed when consumers will be able to purchase the decoders.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said: “If you look at video entertainment in Africa, it’s still at its infancy stage. In the past three years, we have grown over one million subscribers each year. It has shown time and time again that Africans watch more TV than any other place in the world.

“This is the basis upon which we have built this company. We believe there is still opportunity for us to grow over 40 million subscribers across the whole continent. We want to be a one-stop-shop platform for video entertainment in the country.”

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MultiChoice, Canal+ link for African drama

Blood Psalms will premiere in 2021

South Africa’s MultiChoice Group and France-based pay TV operator Canal+ are coproducing a 10-episode South African drama series.

Blood Psalms is based on a pre-colonial Xhosa legend and will debut next year on MultiChoice streaming service Showmax and Canal+’s African OTT platform MyCanal.

Shot in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West provinces of South Africa, Blood Psalms tells the story of a teenage African queen who battles a world-ending prophecy to guide her people through injustice and war.

Produced by Layla Swart and Jahmil XT Qubeka, co-owners of South African prodco Yellowbone Entertainment (Knuckle City), the series stars local actors including Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Andile Nebulane, Awethu Hleli, Ayanda Daweti, Ayanda Makayi and Bokang Phelane.

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment and connected video, said: “This massive coproduction highlights Showmax’s commitment to a dynamic approach to superior-quality content. The partnership with Canal+ also creates an environment that is ripe for invaluable skills exchange between the South African and French production teams.”

Fabrice Faux, chief content officer at Canal+ International, added: “This African story, inspired by a Xhosa legend, will carry our viewers into mythological and epic adventures. With an outstanding directing and production team and a talented cast, Blood Psalms promises to be a big phenomenon that will resonate in all of Africa and internationally.”

Swart said: “Every one of the actors selected brings their own unique ability to authentically translate this magical epic on to screen. The goal, for us, is to ensure that the golden thread of Africa’s stunning history really shines. The story of Blood Psalms not only entertains, but also contributes to the preservation of African culture and languages as authentically told by Africans, to be enjoyed by the world.”

The production was made possible by several key partners, including South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, MultiChoice flagship channel M-Net, the Eastern Cape Economic Development Corporation and the MultiChoice Innovation Fund, which supports South African entrepreneurs.

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SuperSport, La Liga extend rights deal

Spanish top-flight football division La Liga has renewed its broadcasting rights deal with sub-Saharan African pay TV channel SuperSport, part of MultiChoice Group.

Gideon Khobane

According to SuperSport, this deal is central to its aim to be the home of football on the African continent. The agreement ensures it continues to be the home of La Liga throughout sub-Saharan Africa in all languages apart from Arabic and French.

SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane said: “We’re delighted to have finalised a new deal, as football is one of our popular broadcast pillars. La Liga is a fantastic product and our viewers enjoy the excitement on show from week to week.”

Melcior Soler, director of La Liga’s audiovisual department, added: “SuperSport has been a strong partner for La Liga in Africa for many years and our fan base across the continent has grown significantly during this time. We look forward to further years of success together.”

In related news, La Liga’s dedicated English-language channel, which made its bow in the UK earlier this year, is set to become available to subscribers of DStv, the direct-to-home satellite service owned by MultiChoice with approximately 18.9 million subscribers.

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Beyoncé’s Black is King rolls out

Beyoncé’s ‘visual album’ Black is King

New ‘visual album’ Black is King from US singer Beyoncé is set to roll out from July 31 on pay TV platforms across Africa.

They include MultiChoice’s DStv service, Canal+ Afrique, the new Disney+ video streaming service and also M-Net, flagship channel of MultiChoice. This is made possible due to the distribution deal Disney signed with MultiChoice’s M-Net and Canal+ Afrique.

The film was produced in a year and is based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, the studio album Beyoncé released alongside Disney’s 2019 CGI remake of The Lion King.

It reimagines the lessons from the new version of The Lion King for children and features an impressive list of diverse voices on its creative team, including directors Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch and Jake Nava, as well as co-director and long-time collaborator of Beyoncé Kwasi Fordjour.

Other cast members include international African models like Aweng Ade-Chuol and Adut Akech, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Tina Knowles-Lawson, actress Lupita Nyong’o, singer Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z, among others.

Additional co-directors and second unit directors add to the crew’s global representation, including Dafe Oboro, Julian Klincewicz, Derek Milton, Meji Alabi, Joshua Kissi, Alexandre Moors and Deon Van Zyl.

According to Beyoncé, the Black is King film was a labour of love and was researched, filmed and edited in the past year.

“It was originally filmed as a companion piece to The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry,” she said.

“The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our real history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books.

“With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride.”

Filmed in various locations, the film’s cinematography captures beautiful people and landscapes across continents, starting in New York, then Los Angeles, South Africa, West Africa, London and Belgium. It will be viewed by audiences in Africa including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Cameroon, Liberia, Burundi, Senegal, Togo, Somalia, Benin, Congo, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gabon, Cape Verde and other countries.

Although an official trailer for the film has been released by Disney, the screening dates and times on the African pay platforms have yet to be announced.

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MultiChoice boss told to take Covid test

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has ordered that MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe be tested for Covid-19 after he failed to turn up to answer a House committee’s questions.

John Ugbe

An ad hoc House committee is currently investigating the non-implementation of the pay-as-you-go tariff plan by Nigerian satellite broadcasters and the subscription increase for MultiChoice’s DStv service.

It has now instructed Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to find and test Ugbe after his non-appearance.

Ugbe twice failed to appear before the committee and in the second of two letters said his absence resulted from an illness he had contracted after arriving in Abuja on Tuesday for the hearing.

The letter was signed by Gozie Onumonu, MultiChoice’s head of regulatory affairs, on his behalf and addressed to the chairman of the committee, Unyime Idem. The letter appealed to the committee to again reschedule the meeting until Ugbe regains his health and is cleared by his doctor.

The letter reads: “We regret to inform the committee that we would be unable to appear before it today due to a sudden illness of our chief executive officer, after arriving in Abuja yesterday for this meeting. Because of the abundance of caution needed to be taken in line with the current pandemic, we believe it is necessary that the meeting be deferred until he has regained his health and is cleared by his medical doctor.

“In the meantime, we will submit written submissions to the committee to assist the committee in its investigations. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to the committee and please be assured of our best efforts at all times.”

A motion was moved by a member of the committee, Julius Pondi, directing the NCDC to locate Ugbe, test him for Covid-19 and report back to the house within four days.

Another member of the committee, Prestige Ossy, added: “This person is taking the committee for a ride. If he had written us or the doctor where he is hospitalised, then we will talk about it. But where he is in his house and we are all here seated waiting for him to come and he didn’t send any representative, this is the very height of neglect of parliamentary invitation and necessary sanctions should be invoked to make him appear as quickly as possible.”

Ossy added that the NCDC should also trace other passengers who were onboard the plane with him or had any contact with him at the airport.

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Showmax orders four originals

New reality show Life With Kelly Khumalo

African SVoD service Showmax has commissioned four original shows as it looks to bolster its local content offering.

The titles include Life With Kelly Khumalo, a reality show about the South African singer, which will debut on August 6. Produced by Being Bonang prodco BarLeader, the show will follow single mother Khumalo as she juggles parenting with the build-up to the release of her new album.

Tali’s Baby Diary, meanwhile, a sequel to mockumentary Tali’s Wedding Diary, is set for release in 2021. Produced by Sketchbook Studios, the show will centre on main character Tali’s unexpected pregnancy, which forces her into a desperate pivot from Instagram influencer to wholesome ‘momfluencer.’

Skemerdans, a nightclub-set murder-mystery drama, follows the struggle between two brothers, a scorned widow and an organised crime syndicate. The 13-part series, exec produced by Amy Jephta (Trackers) via Nagvlug Films, will also be released next year.

Finally, Horror series Dam tells the story of a daughter who returns home to the Eastern Cape to bury her father, only to be tormented by spirits in their house. It is being written and directed by two-time South African Film & Television Award (SAFTA) winner Alex Yazbek and produced by Johannesburg-based Picture Tree (Vehicle 19) for 2021.

Showmax’s head of content for Africa, Candice Fangueiro, said: “We’ve deliberately ramped up our emphasis on local content. If you look at something like the first-view metric, which asks what’s the first show someone watches after signing up for Showmax under the assumption this is probably what convinced them to join, three out of the top five first-view pieces of content are now local.”

Previous Showmax originals have included the aforementioned SAFTA winner Tali’s Wedding Diary, plus The Girl From St Agnes and Somizi & Mohale: The Union.

Positioned to compete in Africa’s crowded streaming market, Showmax offers a unique combination of hit African content, first-run and exclusive international series, premium documentaries and award-winning kids’ shows. The service is owned by Naspers’ pay TV subsidiary MultiChoice Group.

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CEO Ekdahl quits MultiChoice

Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of connected video at African pay TV group MultiChoice, has left the company less than two years after taking the job.

Niclas Ekdahl

Ekdahl who has more than 19 years of executive leadership experience in the audiovisual services industry, was appointed in 2018 to handle several projects.

These included redesigning the DStv Now interface, the launch of OTT service Showmax’s mobile-only plan, and Showmax’s field tests performance for its standalone streaming service, which will offer DStv content over the internet without requiring an installed dish or decoder.

Yolisa Phahle, currently CEO of general entertainment at MultiChoice, will add Ekdahl’s role to her’s for the time being.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice Group executive for corporate affairs, said: “Ekdahl decided to leave MultiChoice to pursue personal interests. We are grateful for his contribution in which he oversaw the growth of the Showmax and DStv Now platforms.

“Yolisa Phahle will take over Ekdahl’s position, in addition to running the general entertainment division. However, the work of our connected video business unit continues.”

MultiChoice’s video streaming service Showmax recently launched a new sports-themed streaming service called Showmax Pro. In addition, it intends launching a new service called DStv Explora that will carry SVOD platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

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MultiChoice unveils Showmax Pro

Pay TV operator MultiChoice has launched a new sports-themed streaming service called Showmax Pro, aimed at improving its online streaming presence in Africa.

Niclas Ekdahl

MultiChoice’s five-year-old streaming service Showmax offers both VoD entertainment programming and live-streamed sports from MultiChoice-owned sports channel SuperSport as well as music channels and news.

Showmax Pro’s football offering will include all games from the UK’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and La Liga, and South Africa’s premier soccer league, and starts streaming today.

According to the pay TV company, the new service will be rolled out in Nigeria and Kenya with additional countries to be added in six to eight weeks, creating coverage across Sub-Saharan Africa. Showmax Pro will cost from US$8 a month in Nigeria and US$10 in Kenya.

In June 2019, MultiChoice’s South African SVoD service Showmax began testing live-streamed sports on its platform, and the new Showmax Pro service is based on the results of the trial.

In a statement, Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the connected video division at MultiChoice, said: “The live sport test we ran on Showmax in conjunction with SuperSport has been well received, so that’s forming an integral part of our new Showmax Pro service.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve done at Showmax in the five years since we first launched. Africa is an incredibly diverse continent, so offering a single monolithic product may not be the best solution. Our approach is to standardise where we can and tailor where we need to. That’s why you’ll see different local content on Showmax in Nigeria than you will in Kenya, and South Africa’s content is different again.”

The deal will help US companies gain a bigger foothold in Africa, where MultiChoice has nearly 20 million customers in 50 countries, while helping MultiChoice to keep subscribers on its platforms with a variety of content from Netflix and Amazon.

MultiChoice is yet to announce when the service will become available.

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MultiChoice adds musical feature

Pay TV company MultiChoice is adding a new musical feature for customers of its DStv platform.

Mark Rayner

JOOX VIP will allow subscribers to sing along with songs, karaoke style, at the press of a button from now until September 10.

It will offer uninterrupted local and international music hits and will also air live concerts from major stars.

MultiChoice South Africa CEO Mark Rayner said: “This is just another way in which MultiChoice is working to ensure that our loyal and valued customers continue to enjoy the best entertainment during these difficult times.

“Being in lockdown has given us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our support as we continue to find innovative ways to entertain our customers.”

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MultiChoice to add Netflix, Amazon

Pay TV company MultiChoice is set to add international streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to its DStv platform.

Calvo Mawela

With its recently released 2019/20 financial results, the pay TV company has shown growth in South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, adding roughly 900 000 DStv and GOtv subscribers.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice’s CEO, said: “We are pleased with our performance and the resilience we have demonstrated this year. Our healthy balance sheet positions us well to weather uncertainties in our markets going forward.

“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. 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 opportunity, where our own OTT services and aggregation capabilities can drive success.

“MultiChoice has shown a 5% increase in subscriber growth in its 2019/20 financial year, taking its total pay TV subscriber base to 19.5 million households. South Africa still represents MultiChoice’s 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 its as-yet-unnamed ‘DStv dishless,’ stand-alone DStv streaming service that will mimic its existing direct-to-home  service but without the need for any installation.

With these additions, existing subscribers will have 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 content.

The company is also planning two new coproductions, Blood Psalms and Rogue; to launch four new local-content TV channels, including a new action-movie channel; and to further ramp up local content production in 2021.

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CNBC Africa reveals Covid challenges

Business news channel CNBC Africa is celebrating 13 years on air and has revealed the Covid-19 pandemic has presented it with major challenges.

The pandemic has seriously tested CNBC Africa over the past two months, according to the channel, which is nevertheless on almost every platform on the continent and reaches 16 million homes.

CNBC Africa currently has bureaus in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria) and Kigali (Rwanda) and produces roughly eight hours of African business and economic content per day.

It revealed it has seen advertisers and sponsors disappear as a result of the pandemic, while several of its planned broadcast business sessions had to be cancelled.

Sid Wahi, CNBC Africa’s director, said the industry has evolved over the past decade as both content creation and distribution have radically transformed.

“Although we were the first server-based TV station in sub-Sahara Africa, that was not enough, as we had to realign our processes, modernise our equipment, train our staff and consolidate the operation to meet the challenges that we were faced with,” he said.

“CNBC Africa TV channel distribution had to be addressed as well, since it was a major gap in sub-Sahara Africa. After just being available on MultiChoice’s DStv in 2007, CNBC Africa gained further carriage agreements on other platforms, such as China’s StarTimes pay TV platform.”

Roberta Naicker, MD of CNBC Africa’s owner, ABN Group, said: “The journey has been a game-changer in the business news genre as the channel has showcased business and economic news on the continent. We could not have achieved this without the commitment of the executive team and staff at CNBC Africa, who have been the cornerstone of our achievement.”

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the TV business, Zafar Siddiqi, ABN Group’s co-founder and chairperson, said: “The channel has a steady viewership who are interested in business news, so we generally will not lose them. So, I’d say there is uncertainty, but we should be out of the storm in roughly 12 to 18 months.”

In a statement, the news channel said: “Covid-19 has been a major test of the channel’s resolve. On one hand, news media is considered an essential service, but on the other, there is little support in the form of advertising and sponsorships during this pandemic.

“Like all media companies, we have reached out to a lot of our long-time clients to stand by us during this extremely challenging time. The post-Covid-19 era will herald a new operating model as the experience has catalysed transformation of the business, making it more productive and efficient.”

CNBC Africa, which airs on DStv 410 and StarSat 309, is a franchise of the American CNBC brand, which was launched on June 1, 2007. Since then it has become an important voice in business and economic news across sub-Sahara Africa and has helped change the narrative of the African continent, away from the rhetoric of gloom to one of a continent on the rise.

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MultiChoice, Yes invest R50m in job creation

MultiChoice Group has collaborated with the Youth Employment Service (Yes) initiative to create 400 job opportunities for young people in South Africa.

Tashmia Ismail-Saville

The Yes initiative is a business-led collaboration with the government to create work opportunities for unemployed black South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35. MultiChoice will provide candidates with new electronic devices such as laptops so that they can fully participate in the training.

The scheme will create jobs in industries including telecommunications, human resources, engineering, satellite communication, coaching and ICT.

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said: “We have a long history of supporting and investing in programmes that are skewed towards the youth. Through a host of corporate social investment programmes, education, skills development, enterprise development, and sports development initiatives, we are helping to shape a new generation of South Africans who are ready to lead the continent into the next era.

“Our business is all about enriching lives and creating magic; creating spaces where people can imagine and live their dreams. It is an incredible opportunity to be able to translate this magic into something that will benefit the youth of South Africa who will soon be entering the workforce and contributing to our economy. By investing in and developing the youth of South Africa, MultiChoice is helping to shape the industries of the future.”

Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of Yes, added: “MultiChoice is pioneering the behaviours we need to see all companies display in the future, as it embraces true transformation. This Covid-battered economy is seeing unprecedented job losses and economic fallout, and youths are once again going to bear the brunt of this catastrophe.

“We cannot afford to leave another generation behind. The MultiChoice/Yes project is a perfect example of meaningful transformation and how companies can support the country’s way out of the crisis by creating employment opportunities and incomes so desperately needed for our communities to emerge less bruised.”

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