MultiChoice spent 800million dollars on Gotv
Call it a magical night filled with only the best of African entertainment or Africa’s biggest content showcase extravaganza you are right. That was the atmosphere as MultiChoice Africa hosted its second content show at the Outrigger Resort, Mauritius Island last week. It was a 5-day content extravaganza that witnessed DStv’s biggest channels previewing their latest and greatest contents, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME.
If the caliber of guests that walked down the red-carpet on to the sensational night of dazzling event was a measure of success, this year’s content show has not only hit the mark, but also achieved its desire objective-offering the biggest week in Africa’s video entertainment.
Laced with glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood berthing on the Mauritius Island paradise, guests that included Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Desmond Elliot, Ramsey Nuoah, Basket Mouth, Eku Edewor, MC Ik, Banky W, DJ Sose, Flavour, Stoneboy and The Mavins were given the full music and movie-star treatment. It was a night that featured IK and Eku as MCs.
However, the week-long event provided opportunity for MultiChoice and its various partners to provide answers to some issues affecting the industry, especially piracy, pricing, repeating of programmes and local contents among others. Chief Executive Officer MultiChoice Africa Tim Jacobs described piracy as a massive threat to broadcasters and right holders across the globe adding that ‘they are only enriching themselves.’ He said MultiChoice Africa is however working with rights holders and broadcasters to tackle it, but that it is a moving target because ‘their infrastructure means they can open new portals as we shut others down.’ He said it’s not easy to evaluate how big the impact is, since by definition, a lot of it is underground and spread through social media.
Jacobs who spoke at an interaction with the media at this year’s content show held at OutRigger Beach Resort, Mauritius Island said the challenge is broader as certain competitors broadcast a beam that comes down into Africa. “If you have that decoder and smart card that can pick up a service that is not designed to be broadcast in African territories, that is also piracy because the rights for that territory either haven’t been assigned or they are owned by a mainstream service,” he added.
Reacting to question on video entertainment service provider’s pricing structure, Jacobs said MultiChoice Africa is constantly evaluating its cost structures while taking into account the cost of content relative to its different audience groups.
He noted that there have been massive increases in the cost of content such as the English Premier League football rights, which MultiChoice has factored into its pricing. We’re conscious that a large part of the population is looking for a good set of quality content at the bottom end of the market, in the USD10 area, and we make decisions on the price points of our bouquet structure – it’s a continuous evaluation. We’re looking at alternatives too – there’s strong consumer behavior (especially in Nigeria) where many consumers are self-employed, and therefore, not monthly earners, so we’re looking at whether it’s viable to address a different type of model. However, it’s not something that’s on the immediate cards.
On the potential for a premium offering on GOtv, he said: “The market for GOtv is specific, and targeted at viewers sitting on analogue signals. This is a sector of the population that has never engaged on Pay TV. They get a rich experience on a digital platform but at a price point that’s at the bottom of the affordability scale. If you start to move up the value chain, you start to confuse the market between the DStv product, which is aspirational and high-value, and GOtv which is a fun, new, mass-market product. There’s also a capacity on DTT that’s much more restrictive than what we have on satellite, so there are also technical reasons to why we have to be more cautious.”
According to him, pay-per-view sounds attractive, but it is actually a red herring. He said an easy example is the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing match earlier this year, which sold on Pay-Per-View across the world – in the USA at USD99 for 3-4 hours of viewing. “Across the continent, subscribers pay less than that for DStv Premium for a whole month of viewing across all our channels – and in this instance, that included that fight, which was broadcast on SuperSport. That’s the benefit of scale for us.
“If you segment sports, for example the EPL, the reality is that the cost of that is much higher than everyone thinks because you need to divide up those expensive rights between a much smaller viewing populations so the cost goes up exponentially. That doesn’t mean we’re not looking at Pay-Per-View as an option – we need to be flexible and we get a lot of requests for it. We’re watching consumer demand and looking at whether it’s economically viable. It’s not on the cards right now, though, but we do have a research team trying to work that out,” he noted.
He disclosed that MultiChoice investment in GOtv is in excess of USD800 million, in 8 countries across the continent and to recover such money means that MultiChoice cannot roll out towers into every city where the population size and affordability aspect lend itself to Free-To-Air (FTA). This, he said, explained why GOtv cannot be accessed in all regions of the continent, adding that ‘we look at each market on the basis of population size and the economics of rolling out a network.’
“Because we’re a Pay TV service, we can’t offer FTA service like governments do. In those areas, we’d typically pair up with an FTA operator, or the national broadcaster, which is a big part of our offering. We have a limit in terms of where our network reaches – we can generally cover 70-80% of a country. Areas that are remote need to be serviced through our satellite services because of factors including accessibility and terrain - the DTT signal needs to go across ground. Normally the national broadcaster or signal provider has the responsibility to ensure that FTA has national coverage, so they put towers in areas that it’s not economical for Pay TV providers to do,” he said.
On striking a balance between the commissioning of in-house and independent productions, the M-Net Regional Director West Africa Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “We make productions in-house, but also commission, do co-productions and acquire content from elsewhere. You can’t generate enough content in-house. We need multiple production platforms to be able to service our subscribers with the quality content they desire. Our premise is that our content is created by Africa, for Africa, and we continue to nurture and build creative talent, in the hope of developing future producers and directors. We invest in building them up to the quality standards we want. A good mixture of in-house and commissioned content also allows for greater variety and allows us to engage with audience and local producers - that’s how we build talent on the continent. As the Maisha Magic channels roll out, our business model is to nurture local producers and once the channels are off the ground that’s a strong focus for us.”
The show witnessed the hosting of DStv’s and GOtv’s biggest channels such as Sony, SuperSport, Zee World, A+E, Disney, MTV Base, BET, Comedy Central, BBC and M-Net.