SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: MultiChoice is an African success story, how has the company managed to stay successful over the years?
NICO MEYER: We believe there were some key fundamentals that we put in place which include a focus on people, technology and content. One of our key rules is to respect local cultures and traditions and to create business models in each country of operation with local partners that are sustainable in the long term. We built partnerships with local entrepreneurs and national broadcasters who were able to bring to the table the much needed local knowledge and understanding of markets resulting in highly localised businesses.
Nearly twenty years later we still operate with the same partners and have invested in training and development of our people and the industry to as to ensure we have 100% local management, teams and support which bring a deep understanding of the environments and increases our ability to respond to issues quickly.
One of the two other focus areas are technology innovation which enables us to constantly offer new and exciting services to our subscribers – this includes the Personal Video Recorder (PVR), Mobile television, Online Catch Up services plus our most recent roll out of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) which make us a truly multi-platform digital pay television operator able to deliver great news and entertainment to our subscribers anywhere at any time.
Our investment in studios and outside broadcast vehicles has enable us to provide a diverse range of home grown programming from across the continent. Content is our key differentiator and it is our investment in channels made in Africa for Africa as well as our top quality international channels that makes our DStv and GOtv offerings the most trusted and preferred pay television brands in Africa.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: With regards to production of local continent in regions like Kenya – what is the company’s mandate on providing local content?
NICO MEYER: We work very closely with our sister companies M-Net and SuperSport in order to deliver local content and channels across sub-Saharan Africa. We recognise that our subscribers identify and appreciate local storytelling, drama as well as local sport and hence we continue to expand in this area. Our mandate is to meet the needs of our subscribers in Africa and to ensure we provide the best service possible to them.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: What are your most popular offerings in the countries where you operate?
NICO MEYER: DStv is a well-established and trusted brand in Africa, the Premium offering is popular due to its great movie and sport content, GOtv our new DTT brand is gaining traction fast and counts for nearly 20% of our subscriber base. One of the key features of our offering is that we provide an entire spectrum of bouquet offerings at various price points.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Can you give me overview of your African operations?
NICO MEYER: MultiChoice operates in 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa including the Indian Ocean islands. Currently DStv is available in all 50 countries via satellite and GOtv is available in 8 countries with an aggressive roll out plan for further country expansion to new countries.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Which are your fastest growing markets in Africa?
NICO MEYER: The success of pay TV is closely linked to the growth of economies and expansion of the middle class. As economies grow and there is more disposable income, so does the growth of services such as pay TV. As a Pan–African operator we look at Africa in three main segments, East, West and southern Africa. We have seen strong growth in all three segments.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Of those markets which are the three most important for MultiChoice?
NICO MEYER: Across Africa there is growth. However there are some restrictions to our growth. For example, countries are currently introducing GST or VAT or restrictive importation duties immediately push up the cost to consumers and we see a slowdown in take up in these countries. However, in our three main segments i.e. East, West and southern Africa, we have seen strong growth.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Why are those markets important for the company?
NICO MEYER: We identified the potential of the Africa continent two decades ago. Over this period, we have invested significant in the continent to eventually build a strong pan-African pay television operation. Our focus remains East, West and southern Africa.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: How do the subscriber numbers look like?
NICO MEYER: Subscriber growth is good across sub-Saharan Africa. (Our subscriber numbers are released by Naspers on a biannual basis). The new numbers will be released in the interim results due to be published soon.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: With ‘foreign’ competitors like StarTimes moving into some African regions, how does your company manage to stay ahead?
NICO MEYER: We have always welcomed competition as it gives consumers more choice. I think what many operators don’t understand is that consumers prefer quality over quantity.
When consumers see any of our brands, they know that our value proposition can be trusted. Our formula is to consistently innovate to offer the best possible pay television service with the best local and international news and entertainment and to support this with world class customer services and technology. We are constantly adding new channels to our offering to keep our subscribers at the cutting edge of new television trends. As the African proverb goes “When the music changes, so does the dance” and we are always looking at new the environment and new trends in television in order to stay ahead.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Have you experienced any significant shift in subscriber numbers in markets where competitors have moved in?
NICO MEYER: The broadcast landscape is changing significantly at the moment with digital migration deadlines for many countries in Africa happening in the next two years. The television landscape is also changing due to a number of other factors including the introduction of more internet bandwidth; however we have not yet experienced a significant shift and are constantly re-engineering our business to remain at the cutting edge of new trends.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: Are there plans to expand into other regions outside of Africa?
NICO MEYER: We have no plans at this stage.
SIMNIKIWE MZEKANDABA: And what are some of your plans for future growth on the continent?
NICO MEYER: We can’t let the cat out of the bag, but history has shown that we have always launched with cutting edge technologies.