Africa’s biggest TV player is lobbying to have Netflix regulated
13 July 2018
Spooked by Netflix’s growing popularity among African viewers, the continent’s largest television operator wants the disruptor to be regulated.
This call for regulation is a common call from established monopolies who find their grip on a local market challenged by a tech disruptor, and MultiChoice is no different. At first the South African company tried to compete, launching its own streaming service as eyeballs moved online. Now it’s resorted to calling for stricter rules in its own market.
MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela blamed an unregulated Netflix for their lost of more than 100,000 subscribers in the last financial year, and an additional 40,000 in this cycle. In a July 12 interview with the Business Day newspaper in South Africa, Mawela called on regulators to clamp down on Netflix and other over-the-top services.
It isn’t the first time Mawela has bemoaned Netflix’s disruption. In a testimony to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, the CEO said over-the-top service providers like Netflix were already at an advantage because they did not have to contend with affirmative action regulations and Black Economic Empowerment (South Africa’s broad policy to level the post apartheid playing field).
Though Netflix numbers in Africa have not been formally disclosed, it is still nascent in a continent where it has only been available for since January 2016 and where bandwidth costs and speeds could limit its reach. DSTV estimates Netflix has between 300,000 to 400,000 subscribers in South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, where DStv reportedly had 6.6 million subscribers last year. In June 2018 Naspers reported just under 13,5 million subscriber homes for their video services in sub-Saharan Africa, a 13% increase from the previous year thanks to MultiChoice, DStv and GOtv.