MultiChoice Offers Discounts on TV Subscriptions

Multi Choice Africa, the continent’s premier pay-TV broadcaster, is to introduce discounts across all its subscription services, in its bid to double the size of its subscribers across sub-Saharan Africa. Its executives appear to hinge their hopes on trading revenues from determined number of subscribers for volume coming from mass client base.

To appeal to a larger number of audience, the company also plans to use popular comedians in Uganda and Nigeria to reach out to its subscribers estimated to reach at 2.1 million across the continent, while close to six million more are in its native land, South Africa.

MultiChoice Africa, homed in Dubai, owns DStv, a popular distribution channel for entertainment, news, movie, documentaries, lifestyle and culture. However, it is known in the Ethiopian market rather for its exclusive rights to broadcast sports, particularly of the European Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

The company is to announce today discounts ranging between five to 30pc, the variation depending on the market. Its senior executives see erosion in the value of currencies and increased competition made business in its core markets “unsustainable.” Nigeria is where MultiChoice has one of the largest subscribers in Africa, where the country has its “Naira” suffered a 30pc drop against the dollar in late June 2016.

Subscription fees have been a source of major complaints among its subscribers, which are often affected by foreign exchange fluctuations across economies. Subscribers in Ethiopia will benefit a discount of up to 15pc, according to sources at the company’s sole agent in Ethiopia, MultiChoice Ethiopia Plc.

MultiChoice Ethiopia offers over 200 and 65 audio channels under five packages with different rates ranging from 84 dollars monthly fee for Premium to 11 dollars for Access. However, its largest subscribers are under its Compact package for 33 dollars, while other packages are Compact Plus and Family. The amount paid in Birr varies according to the exchange rate on the day subscription is paid for.

It is not clear how much the company is projected to lose from its current overture to retain subscribers, which is considered a high-risk strategy. But Tim Jacobs, CEO of MultiChoice Africa, described it as an “ambitious” strategy that has not “overstepped the mark.”

“We’ll take financial hit in the immediate,” he told journalists gathered in Johannesburg last week. “We’ll breakeven in three years and achieve volume thereafter. We’re here for the long haul.”