GTV Scoops Premiership Rights for Sub-Saharan Africa

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GTV’s parent company Gateway Broadcast Services has acquired the rights for the key British premiership football matches for the next three seasons. If you want to watch Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal, you’ll find them on GTV. The owners of the rights last time around, South Africa’s DSTV, that previously had a monopoly on pay-TV in Anglophone Sub-Saharan African, retained the rights for South Africa. The Nigerian Rights went to Hi-TV. Russell Southwood interviewed Julian McIntyre of Gateway Communications about the announcement.

Q: What do you get with this set of rights?

Gateway Broadcast Services has acquired ten live broadcast matches a week and 80% of matches for the next three seasons. It includes every premium match played so if you want to watch any of the big clubs, it will be on GTV. We have the rights for 40 Sub-Saharan African countries.

Q: Hi-TV paid $28 million for its rights. What did you pay?

I can’t give you the figure but they have been acquired on attractive terms relative to the value of the territories. African is the only virgin market for Pay-TV left in the world. What I can tell you is that the value of the rights this time around were three times what they were three years ago. This growth in value is a factor of increased competition and market potential. There has been a massive increase in interest in the Premier League in Africa.

Q: Will you be sponsoring local football teams?

We’re looking at this from the development point of view and will be putting together a Corporate Social Responsibility programme that is heavily focused around football. We’re also talking to sports development bodies that are interested in Africa. The money we put in will be about making football available to young people in Africa. We’re also looking at larger teams and the opportunities to develop professional leagues. African football is very important to us and as part of that we’d like to develop local sports coverage.

Q: What are the bouquets of programming you’re offering?

There will be Gbase that has 12 channels covering general entertainment including: news, religion, documentaries, movies, series, music and local entertainment.

There will be three sports channels: GPlusOne will offer the Premier League matches, international football and African games. GplusTwo will offer some football plus a range of contact sports including boxing, cricket, rugby, golf and athletics. The third sports channel will be Fox Sports.

Gprime will be a lifestyle channel with high quality programming throughout the day. It will start with childrens programming, going into soaps and lifestyle programmes, turning to series in the early evening and high quality movies later in the evening.

Q: What will the bouquets cost?

Somewhere between US$20-30/35 with some variants, depending on the country market. But whatever the price, it will be under half of the current Pay TV services. Plus there will be all the usual discounts and promotions.

Q: Where have you got to with rolling out the service?

We’ll be launching in four weeks time in East Africa and we’re substantially developed in a large number of other countries. After East Africa, we’ll roll-out in Southern Africa in Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. After that, we’ll launch West Africa in Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. We’ll have directly controlled operations in 9-10 countries with more indirect ones beyond that.

There’s also massive interest in British football in francophone markets. There are big players from Cote d’Ivoire in the Premier League and we have both French and English rights. We are currently looking at distribution arrangements that may get us in there at speed.

Q: You’ve also secured additional investment?

At the end of last week two significant institutional investors agreed to put US$40 million into Gateway Broadcast Services. One of them is Kinnevik, a major investor in Millicom and also Modern Times, a Pay-TV operator in Central and Eastern Europe and the other is Citigroup.