A securities filing report has revealed that MultiChoice has 13.9 million subscribers, across Africa, implying that many people do not have the choices, yet, to sign-up to many of the company services. In a continent of more than 1.2 billion people, one would have expected a clear category-king and dominant player to have better numbers since it began operations in 1996. This is typical in Africa – projections by pundits are always ahead in multiples when real numbers arrive. Recall the revelation that old Konga had just 350k users via a securities report filed by one of its (then) major European investors. Before that report, everyone had assumed the user base was in millions.
It supported the claim by comparing its subscriber base – which currently stands at 13.9 million across Africa – against those of Canal Plus Afrique, StarTimes and Netflix.
The Guardian checks showed that by late 2017, Nigeria controlled 40 per cent of MultiChoice Africa’s subscriptions.
But StarTimes’ Overseas Public Relations Director, William Masy, disclosed that approximately three million Nigerians are subscribed to the organisation’s services and products.
Netflix rising subscribers in Nigeria are also in millions.
The United States is about 25% of Africa’s population but Netflix alone has about 60 million subscribers, indicating a higher level of penetration. Netflix using the web to distribute has a huge advantage since the delivery mechanism is unbounded and unconstrained with a better marginal cost which helps its scalable advantage. It is possible that the rise of Netflix will remain a continued and sustained challenge to MultiChoice business in Africa. Netflix opened for Nigerians not long ago, and now has 1 million subscribers while MultiChoice despite its long presence has just 3 million subscribers. Yet to confront this challenge with a top-grade online streaming business will bring the innovator’s hangover paralysis within MultiChoice: you cannot destroy the highly profitable cable business for a largely low-margin online one.
Do not bet that Naspers, owners of MultiChoice, might not have given up by this unbundling of MultiChoice as a separate entity in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Yes, the firm remains solid, in the short term, but long-term view in the age of the web is severely gloomy.
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The day we are going to discover the true population figure of Nigeria, and also the number of Nigerians whose annual incomes are from N1 million up; maybe it will help demystify a lot of things about market size here. MultiChoice having less than 4 million subscribers, with good portion on GOtv, not good enough; but that’s the reality. Facebook still has less than 30 million Nigerians, and that’s the platform with largest concentration of Nigerians online, and yet we don’t have 50 million people there yet. We are yet to see any figures close to all the projections about market size and value in this part of the world, aside from NNPC telling us that we consume more 50 million litres of petrol daily. Someone needs to enter the dock and answer some questions…
The coming years may not be funny for them. Seriously considering the disruptive innovations going on with Netflix and other of such businesses and the increase in data availability. Nigeria in particular is a huge market and Multichoice could do better by reviewing their billing pattern. Why would one pay Naira 18000+ (Which expires active or not) for old movies and regular news channels when Netflix offers unlimited streaming for Naira 4000 or their about for recent and trending movies with even better quality. Multichoice could begin with pay as you watch options. this will give them a chance to fight pending imminent mega disruptions that will follow when other of such ventures like Netflix create the real competition.
The likes of Netflix care for the younger tech savvy generation, while DSTv has the broader family oriented traditional audience. This market share is not going to dissipate overnight. The tech infrastructure in the country is still far behind, but in- line with DSTv audience. Yes DSTv will have to work hard to keep a good percentage of the younger generation, and there is one way rhis is already working. Satellite TV service providers are now embedding the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc into their hardware, providing a onestop service; purchase my service and box and also have access to online streaming as well. This model seems to accommodate both the traditional household and young audience, added with an on-the-go app. We are a very longshot away thinking the model of Netflix will be the traditional means of consuming digital tv screening.
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