Multichoice Africa announces a 26% increase in subscribers bringing total to 830,000 subscribers

Content

At the end of November MultiChoice Africa announced a 26% (92,000) increase in net equated* subscribers to 630,000 from September 2007 to September 2008, as consumers continued to see the value in DStv’s diverse range of premium content. MultiChoice Africa’s mid-priced bouquets stands at 247,000 (up from 107,300 – September 2007). The total gross number of MultiChoice Africa’s subscribers is over 830 000, an increase of more than 200,000 subscribers since September 2007.

The exceptional increase in subscribers was driven by MultiChoice Africa’s strong focus on local content and its quality range of channels for the whole family as well as DStv’s unmatched coverage of the Euro 2008 soccer championships and the Olympics. When including South African subscribers, MultiChoice’s DStv brand now has almost 2.3m net equated subscribers, cementing its position as Africa’s leading pay-television operator.

MultiChoice Africa CEO Eben Greyling said: “This is by far our strongest performance in terms of subscriber growth over the last five years and was achieved in spite of increased competition in many of our markets over the last 18 months. These audited figures are a reaffirmation of our strength as the leading pay-television operator in Africa and provide indisputable proof that we offer subscribers a compelling product premised on competitive pricing, strong local content, unmatched international content and channels, and unrivalled depth and breadth in quality sports coverage.”

The growth in pay-television in Sub-Saharan Africa, outside of South Africa, is reflective of strong development in African economies. In recent years countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have enjoyed some of their highest growth rates in decades. Sub-Saharan Africa has shown average GDP growth of 6.5%, while GDP per capita has averaged 4.5% since 2004.

However, there are some challenges facing Sub-Saharan pay-television in the coming years. Increasing competition in a number of territories has led to a fragmentation of markets for certain rights, predominantly sports rights, which is resulting in accelerating costs for content. Furthermore, increased regulations across a number of territories could result in higher operating costs for pay television companies.

Overall income levels and GDP per capita in Sub-Sahara Africa remain low and while growth is expected to continue to show some resilience, the global economic turmoil may have a muted effect on the kind of growth experienced in the past 12 months. However, traditionally pay television tends to benefit from tighter consumer conditions as households opt for family entertainment instead of expensive “out-of-house” options. MultiChoice Africa’s breadth of premium family content should position the company well.

DStv continued to deepen the value of its offering with the addition of a host of new channels during 2008, including four new BBC channels, a second channel dedicated to African programming - Africa Magic Plus, the Inspiration channel, ESPN Classic, National Geographic Wild, Channel Islam, Nickelodeon and new free to air channels in key countries in which MultiChoice operates. For the Portuguese markets new channels such as E Entertainment (Portuguese), Panda and SuperSport Maximo 2 were added to the bouquet offering.

“We also continued to invest aggressively in developing African content, and expanding the reach of our local content. Our leadership in helping Africans tell their own stories continues to support our growth in Africa,” Greyling said. This can be seen in the massive investments made in local content relevant to the different markets in Africa, for example Catwalk Kenya, Idols East Africa, Big Brother Africa 3, Face of Africa, Tinsel, Moments with Mo, the Patricia Show as well as the New Directions developmental project which saw 30 African short films and two full length feature films created. SuperSport has also added to our winning mix of local content by making a massive investment in five new Outside Broadcast vans in East and West Africa in order to showcase the Nigerian Football league, the Kenyan Premier League, the Zambian Super Division league and three of the top Angolan clubs.

Greyling said the DStv platform was further enhanced with the introduction of new world class technologies which will put African subscribers on par with their counterparts in Asia, Europe and the US. “We are currently rolling out the HD PVR across our markets which places our subscribers at the cutting edge of entertainment technology,” Greyling said.