MultiChoice Africa responds to Netflix's expansion

04:26 by Kaggwa Andrew
In the wake of Netflix expanding to almost 120 countries, including most parts of Africa, there have been speculation that MultiChoice Africa has finally met their bully. We sat with officials at Africa's leading pay TV to talk Netflix and Internet TV. 

Now that Netflix has launched its services in Africa, what does that mean for the Pay TV industry? Don’t they have almost the same content as yours?
We believe its good news that new players have entered the market because they will generate interest in Internet TV which is a new segment in Africa. They will assist to create a better understanding of the new technology and what subscription video on demand is and how it works. It’s also important to note that there are many smaller operators in this segment already and others who plan to enter the market in the near future because of an overall improvement in internet speeds across the continent.
As regards to content it is inaccurate to state that we offer similar programming, there is little doubt that the content we are offering is a lot richer and much more varied. 
“The DStv and GOtv bouquets contain the best in digital pay television channels from around the world with unrivalled home entertainment options for the whole family incorporating the best children’s programming, news, movies, documentaries and live sport”. Over The Top (OTT) service providers like Netflix focus their business mainly on showing movies and series which are by and large consumed on an individual level.

What will happen to some of the shows being broadcast on Netflix which are currently being carried on DStv, such as “How to get away with Murder”, Call Saul, or Orange is the New Black?
We have the commercial rights to air this programming and will continue to do so in line with the contracts we signed with the producers of the content and/or rights holders.
MultiChoice Africa will continue airing Orange is the New Black

Netflix will be offering a service that is very similar to DStv BoxOffice and Catch Up, what do you feel will happen to these services which are much more expensive than Netflix?

DStv Box Office and Catch-up are just two of a number of video on demand services we now offer; others include DStv Now and the Super Sports app which are available on smartphones, laptops and tablets. The Catch Up and DStv Now products are added value products which enable our premium subscribers to watch content while they are on the go and even to stream many of the popular DStv channels live – these are at no extra charge to the DStv Premium services.  Box Office is an additional service available where subscribers pay a minimal rate for latest release block buster movies.  Box Office and Catch Up offer a similar experience to the OTT services they are a lot more affordable and better tailored to the African setup. For example to watch a movie on Netflix you need to be connected to high speed internet and pay an access fee via credit card. With Box Office, provided you are a Premium,  Compact Plus or Compact subscriber we give you access to our current movie library and only ask you to pay for the movie you want to watch, payable even via mobile money.

“At the end of the day however the differentiator like all video entertainment providers either on satellite or DTT or via Internet is the ability to deliver content that appeals to subscribers in the markets at a reasonable price. What has been seen in USA and Europe is that people often subscribe to more than one service, so it’s not an either-or situation with Internet TV.”

Can Ugandans be assured of continuing to watch many of their favourite African dramas now that every producer is excited about selling their programming to Netflix?
Kunle Afolayan's October 1 is already available on Netflix

Yes they can, MultiChoice is the pioneering company and started some of the first channels made in Africa for Africa under the brand Africa Magic  over 10 years ago, today as I speak we have more than eight channels dedicated to African made movie and series content, this in addition to the numerous Free To Air African channels we carry across the continent.

“MultiChoice Africa welcomes competition in the video entertainment industry as it believes that it benefits the consumer as well as the production industries. Ultimately, television viewers will benefit through the additional volume and diversity of content that will be distributed on different platforms in the market.”

Netflix has promised heaven on earth, especially as far as African content is concerned and already have about twenty African films on their platform. What’s does DStv have in store for the Ugandan film fraternity.

MultiChoice is an African company born and bred on the continent as such we are committed to supporting the growth and development of African television and film talent both in front and behind the camera. As far as Uganda and the region is concerned there is a number of initiatives we have in plan including continuing to broadcast Ugandan content on Maisha Magic East as well as sponsoring local productions in Uganda.

With DStv running a similar streaming service for Africans in the diaspora, Africa Magic GO, are we going to see them open it up for the rest of Africa too?
Africa Magic Go's DSTV's version of Netflix for Africans in the diaspora

Africa Magic GO was initially a test case, however you can look forward to new initiatives and innovations from the company later this year.


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