Samuel Nwite examines how MultiChoice and Netflix companies are battling for Africa.
Two years after Netflix was launched in Africa, in 2016, it gained around 400,000 users, mostly in South Africa, MultiChoice’s country of origin. And to instill more fear in MultiChoice, Netflix announced a budget of $8 billion for original contents targeting the African region among other places. Showmax Pro will hopefully keep MultiChoice subscribers within its ecosystem by inserting sports in the digital product.
“Provided that happens, a double play of holding off Netflix online while giving DStv set boxes room to grow offline may materialize. Provided MultiChoice controls live sports, Africans may not have no choice, and that means subscribing to both Netflix and Showmax Pro/DStv at the same time, as the products are not clear substitutes to each other.
My prediction is this: Netflix will bid for live sports rights for its African operations when that opportunity becomes available. The streaming business in Africa will be won with live sports and since it has a $8 billion content budget, dropping say $300 million for Africa operations seems balanced. That is the biggest threat ahead for MultiChoice. If it loses control of live sports, in Africa, it would fade in relevance.
With Naspers out of the picture, DStv faces the biggest threat in years as Netflix can decide to inflict wounds by going to Europe with a bigger purse for football TV rights. (MultiChoice, now outside Naspers – Africa’s largest firm by market cap-, does not have the enormous capital to battle for TV rights as before.) Also, do not count Amazon Prime out. Amazon already streams live sports in its ecosystems, and can create a product for Africa. If DStv does not have European football, it is game over for MultiChoice.