Multichoice is a Nominee for the 2019 Uganda Responsible Investment Award (URI Award) slated for 22nd November 2019 during a High Level Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and Award Ceremony. The 2019 Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and Award Ceremony is organised by Public Opinions and Office of the Minister of State for Privatisation and Investment. The award is offered to Companies and organisations which promote and uphold International Best Standards and Practices and have made tremendous contributions towards attainment of Uganda Vision 2040 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Multichoice was stablished in 1994, MultiChoice Uganda has made an estimated US$150 million contribution to the national economy and has spurred rapid growth in the film and video-entertainment sector by commissioning some 10 000 hours of locally produced content.
Rooted in Ugandan society, MultiChoice Uganda is 100% owned by MultiChoice Africa Holdings. Customers have a choice of five packages delivered via the DStv satellite platform with a total of over 140 channels as well as three packages via the GOtv digital terrestrial (DTT) service.
The power of MultiChoice Uganda’s entertainment is felt by thousands of entrepreneurs, suppliers, employees and partners. We are one of the country’s top 50 corporate taxpayers.
In addition to employing several hundred people directly, working from five offices, we help sustain the businesses of over 1 000 installers, agents and retailers, most of which are small businesses.
Since 2011, we’ve delivered MultiChoice content via the GOtv digital terrestrial television network, an investment worth US$24.5 million which has made amazing content available to people living in 12 towns and cities.
In 2016, no fewer than 50 productions – films, series and soapies – were produced for Maisha Magic East in Uganda. These productions commissioned by M-Net were worth US$536 000 to Ugawood’s booming production companies, to directors, writers, editors, actors, lighting and sound and support personnel.
By sponsoring and broadcasting domestic soccer matches and basketball as well as other tournaments, we’ve created invaluable exposure which has enabled hundreds to earn their living through sport.
OUR JOURNEY SINCE 1986
MultiChoice Africa provides a pioneering pay television platform offering viewers an unrivalled selection of premium entertainment, news and sport. The various DStv & GOtv packages give subscribers flexibility in price and choice without compromising quality or variety. MultiChoice Africa is a world leader in broadcast technology innovation, continuously improving their customers’ viewing experience.
The first seeds of this billion-dollar company were sown in 1985, when Africa’s first pay TV channel, M-Net, was launched by a group of South African media companies, including media giant Naspers. In the midst of one of the most turbulent political and economic periods in South African history, the launch was seen merely as a daring experiment. The media were initially sceptical of the idea, and the potential customer base was seen to be limited.
M-Net first hit South African screens broadcasting 12 hours a day from its basic studios in Johannesburg. The company was driven by a group of energetic young entrepreneurs with a grand vision. They believed that “nothing can stop us now” and drove that vision through highly innovative marketing and promotion for the fledgling channel.
A focus on customers:
Within the first year M-Net had only a few subscribers, and the business was not yet covering its costs. Then the momentum began to shift, and M-Net started to grow, with subscriber numbers leaping beyond all expectations. Initially targeted at a small number of high income earners in the country, the consumer base grew rapidly and M-Net found itself reaching into all sectors of the economy.
M-Net rode the wave, never relinquishing its focus on the viewer, and meeting their needs with high quality programming and service. In 1988 the multi award-winning actuality program Carte Blanche was launched, which became famous for its cutting edge investigative journalism and uncovering South Africa’s most famous scandals. In 1989, M-Net SuperSport was launched, initially as a regular time slot, later becoming a stand-alone channel and eventually a company in its own right - producing up to 10 channels covering all the leading sports events from around the world.
In 1990, M-Net became the first television company to be listed on what was then the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (today known as the JSE Ltd). This incredible growth surely would have been enough, but the company was driven by the longstanding promise to enrich lives of viewers through the delivery of compelling content.
In the late eighties, M-Net embarked on a drive to expand its operations beyond the borders of South Africa. Its visionary founder, Naspers CEO Koos Bekker, wanted the company to shake off the stigma of apartheid that dogged so many South African companies at the time, and to position itself as a pan-African company. He wanted to create a company that was modern, progressive and ahead of its time.
One of the founder members of the Africa team was Nolo Letele, currently CEO of MultiChoice South Africa. He says, “When I joined M-Net in 1990, my brief was to open up new operations in the form of joint ventures in other African countries. My job was a lonely one, as everybody was dead against investing in Africa because it was thought of as a basket case – with poverty, wars, famine and disease. The breakthrough came when we were awarded a licence in Namibia in 1991, quickly followed by Botswana in the same year. We secured a host of licences in quick succession, and we opened operations in Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia within the next three years, followed by operations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.”
In 1992– two years before South Africa's first democratic elections – M-Net launched an analogue service to over 20 countries in Africa. This bold move required the company to be highly adaptable to accommodate the highly diverse operating environments in each country. In order to navigate the complexities of the different countries, joint partnerships were formed which enabled the company to understand and accommodate local business policies and environments. In each country new payment methods needed to be developed, marketing needed to be localised for specific economies, and our people needed to be trained in not only the technical operations, but also in customer service.
In October 1992, the first joint venture was launched between M-Net and Kalahari Holdings in Namibia. Doing business in Namibia was very similar to doing business in South Africa and the company experienced a growth in subscriber base using the tried and tested practices developed in South Africa.
MultiChoice itself was formed in 1993 when M-Net was split and the subscriber management arm was renamed as MultiChoice. This new company would drive much of the expansion outside South Africa’s borders, targeting the vast untapped markets in Africa.
MultiChoice Africa continued to expand and by the end of 1995, MultiChoice Africa had established offices in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia, with franchises launched in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
The West African markets proved to be very different to other regions on the continent as historically, the west coast was one huge trading belt running from Nigeria to Senegal. In pre-colonial times, people moved back and forth along this belt trading in goods and services and it still very much a cash-based society today. In 1993, when MultiChoice established itself in Ghana and Nigeria, banking systems were established but without the debit order systems and the use of cheques which were not common practice. This made subscription collection difficult and therefore, innovative solutions for alternative payment methods for subscriptions were needed – such as banks using their vast network of branches.
Nolo Letele once stated that the biggest challenge was introducing the concept of Pay television to Africa. “We found that people had difficulty in paying for something that was intangible like radio waves – something which they had grown accustomed to receiving free of charge. With intensive education and marketing on the benefits of Pay television it was possible to achieve gradual acceptance of this concept; thus, subscriber growth was slower than anticipated. For example, it took ten years to reach 100,000 subscribers in Nigeria.”
MultiChoice Africa is now present in 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa delivering quality video entertainment to over 6,5 million customers (excluding South Africa). Included are subscribers who were originally with M-Net, showing the strength of the legacy offering and the success of MultiChoice Africa in providing a strong, diverse product for all subscribers.
Going Digital – A Paradigm Shift:
At the heart of MultiChoice Africa’s services are some of the most advanced technologies in the satellite broadcasting industry. As the network of operations grew, so did the demands on our technology. After initially launching with analogue satellite services, in 1995, MultiChoice took the bold step of introducing digital technology to the continent with the launch of the DStv bouquet. In September 1996 the old analogue-satellite services to Africa were cancelled and MultiChoice Africa provided only DStv. DStv was one of the first digital satellite broadcasters outside of the United States to launch a satellite platform, and the size and complexity of its satellite network rivalled the best in the world.
The benefits of digital satellite broadcasting were numerous. Not only could MultiChoice provide the DStv service to Africa’s most remote regions, but it could now provide a multi-channel offering catering to the diverse cultures and needs of African people. Satellite broadcasting also enabled African viewers to access up to the minute news and information from around the world. MultiChoice Africa now also provides local broadcasters in each country carriage on DStv. Being available on satellite improves local channels broadcast quality and gives them a wider audience reach than previously obtained through analogue broadcasting, which is geographically limited.
To enable DStv to meet the growing need for a broadcast signal of the highest quality and reliability, MultiChoice Africa launched its direct-to-home (DTH) digital satellite broadcast offering, using the decoder all subscribers are now familiar with. The first of its kind to be manufactured worldwide, the decoder used MPEG2 video compression technology, today best known for its ubiquitous use in DVD players. This technological leap forward made MultiChoice Africa the second digital satellite broadcaster in the world.
Today’s decoders are a breed apart from those rolled out by UEC years ago. The launch of the Dual View decoder (March 2003) and later the PVR (November 2005) have revolutionised television viewing. The Dual View decoder was a world first, and enabled the viewing of two different channels on two different televisions using one satellite link. The PVR allows subscribers to record, rewind, forward and pause broadcasts as well as to receive VOD services such as DStv Catch Up and Box Office. Allowing DStv subscribers to watch what they want in their own time and convenience – thus putting the viewing control into their hands.
The DStv experience would not be possible without MultiChoice’s very sophisticated back-end hardware and software, and highly trained staff. The source of a DStv signal is a complex one. Once the analogue feed is converted into a digital signal, a device called the Multiplexer (MUX) converts the many digital signals into a single transmission feed. It is this feed that is beamed to various satellites and ultimately received by DStv subscribers. The transport stream into the satellites is controlled by the “cherry-picker”, which picks up the signal into a stand-alone scrambler (SAS) to encrypt the signal. The signal can only be turned into intelligible picture and sound by an Irdeto-enabled decoder and smart card.
This state of the art technology enables MultiChoice to protect their intellectual property whilst ensuring the highest quality and reliability of broadcast. It enables the warping of time, airing international channels such as BBC at exactly the same time in Africa as in the UK, despite time differences, to ensure all programming remains coherent and the times displayed on-screen are accurate. Similarly, it enables smarter management of advertising, ensuring it can be tailored to reach only the intended market.
The Power of Satellite Technology:
To transmit the signal to DStv households, MultiChoice Africa uses a number of different satellites. These satellites have changed and developed over the years and each serves a different part of the African continent. As we continue to innovative and pioneer the use of new technologies, new satellites are in the pipeline for further expansion of the current operations in Africa.
Apart from the multitude of satellites used to bring in channels from around the world, MultiChoice currently utilises 2 satellites for delivery of its DStv service. The IntelSat 20 satellite provides Ku-Band coverage to Southern Africa, as far north as Malawi and E36 provides coverage to the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Eutelsat E36 Ku-Band platform also allows for wider audience reach and penetration throughout the continent, and, consequently, enhances the value of African-oriented channel and language offerings. It has extended the MultiChoice Africa footprint to several new countries, including Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Madagascar and Mauritius.
From ASO to Digital Terrestrial Television:
As technology moves at an ever-increasing pace coupled with the introduction of DTT across the world to replace analogue signals, MultiChoice once again launched a highly-sophisticated DVBH2 network in 2011. GOtv is on a DVB-T2 technology standard which allows for up to 20 channels per frequency, this is different from DVB-T1 technology which only allows for 12 channels per frequency. Thus, there is a dramatic improvement on the dividend of terrestrial frequencies available to countries when DVB-T2 is deployed. GOtv thus supports each government’s original IBA commitment to migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2015.
MultiChoice’s DTT platform was launched under the GOtv brand as a digital television service dedicated to offering customers we affectionately call ‘GOgetters’ affordable family entertainment in great digital quality. GOtv was rapidly rolled out across Nigeria, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique and Ghana and became a household name in many countries.
Ready for an IoT future, anytime, anywhere:
As the world transformed and the concept of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) became central to everyday life and work, MultiChoice ensured our services continue delivering quality video entertainment to customers across various devices through leading-edge technology.
MultiChoice constantly upgrades its technology to ensure that viewers in Africa remain on the cutting-edge of broadcast developments. We use the latest technology, putting the continent at the forefront of technology adoption and ensuring our customers in Africa have access to the same entertainment as their contemporaries in developed markets. Some of these technological innovations include the DStv Now app (our OTT service) which allows every DStv customer to watch from 5 different devices, using one DStv subscription. DStv Now enables customers to connect to their PVR or Explora decoders remotely and watch LIVE TV anytime, anywhere on any device. Furthermore, customers can also remotely record their favourite shows from wherever they are. Similarly, Showmax – an OTT platform - offers a great selection of movies and series which can be streamed over the internet as part of the value-added service to DStv Premium subscribers in Nigeria and Kenya.
DStv customers are also able to enjoy value-added services like DStv Catch Up and Catch Up Plus which allows customers to catch up on their favourite programmes and if they connect their DStv Explora to the internet, they'll discover hundreds of extra DStv Catch up titles–all downloadable straight to their DStv Explora to watch at their convenience. DStv Box Office allows customers to rent up to 30 blockbuster movies from the comfort of their own couch and keep them for 48 hours. All of this puts the DStv service on par with the best entertainment companies worldwide.
Delivering A World Of Channels For Africa:
Our focus on technological innovation does not distract the company from ensuring our viewers receive an unparalleled diversity of content. MultiChoice offers a variety of bouquet options on its DStv and GOtv service. The range of packages allows flexibility in price and choice without compromising quality or variety. Customers can choose any bouquet of their choice depending on affordability or needs. These range from the English variety of bouquets: DStv Premium, DStv Compact, DStv Compact+, DStv Family, DStv Access, DStv Lite (Zimbabwe) - to DStv Portuguese packages: DStv Bué, DStv Grande+, DStv Grande, DStv Fácil and the add-on package, DStv French, DStv Great Wall and DStv Indian. In addition, MultiChoice offers special bouquets for hotels, pubs and clubs on DStv Business and DStv Business Lite. On the GOtv platform, customers have an option of choosing between GOtv Max, GOtv Plus, GOtv Value and GOtv Lite.
MultiChoice has also placed significant focus on ensuring the provision of high quality language content for our Portuguese, French, Igbo, Hausa and Swahili speaking subscribers.
As a company born and bred in Africa, we place significant emphasis on providing local content and through our channel suppliers such as M-Net – we offer customers quality content on the 8 Africa Magic channels, Zambezi Magic, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo, OneZed, 1Magic, Mzansi Magic, VUZU alongside a multitude of different specialist channels and the latest offerings from Hollywood, up-to-the-minute news coverage, compelling local series and more to viewers’ homes on a daily basis.
SuperSport is the largest funder and broadcast aggregator of sports content on the African continent and delivers an exciting World of Champions with more than 20 HD & SD channels featuring a wide variety of international and local sports events, titles and leagues across multiple sports disciplines including football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf, motorsport, cycling, boxing, wrestling, athletics, eSports and other sporting codes via various entertainment platforms including the SuperSport app for sports fans to enjoy live TV anytime, anywhere
We find and develop the right mix of content and deliver it to millions of people across Africa – anytime, anywhere on any device. Whether it’s local telenovelas, the excitement of world class sport or the latest global blockbusters, our investment in leading-edge content and technology systems delivers the shows that people love into their hands and their living rooms. Our aim is to provide customers with more of their favourite content at great value via the DStv and GOtv platforms on which we offer original content from our production houses, M-Net and SuperSport.
Our Contribution To Local Economies:
Our passion for - and commitment to - the African continent is unwavering as we pursue both the growth of our business and the upliftment of the communities in which we operate. We believe that long-term investment in community development makes for sustainable business.
As locally-owned businesses, our country operations have a significant positive economic impact through direct job creation, our supply chain, tax revenues, technology investments, and the development of local sport and creative industries. We employ several thousands of people directly, working from multiple offices across the continent, we have created jobs for more than 15,000 people through our network of agents, installers and retailers, most of which are small businesses.
Born and bred in Africa, MultiChoice Africa has a team of more than 2 700 permanently employed individuals working in 14 countries. We are rooted in the countries where our customers live and we are managed and run by local people. We strive to provide all our employees an opportunity to grow while also making a difference to those around them.
Wherever we operate, we contribute to the economy through tax revenues and make significant investments in broadcasting technology and the growth of the local sport and creative industries. For example, according to a 2014 independent, expert analysis of MultiChoice operations:
- MultiChoice Zambia’s economic impact estimated the company’s direct economic impact at US$26.9 million in 2011/12, a figure which had more than doubled within three years (by 2014/15) to US$65.5 million a year.
- MultiChoice Kenya’s direct domestic economic impact amounted to some US$30 million in 2014 with US$66 million being spent on our supply chain, spend which was multiplied 1.6 times across the economy. Between 2011 and 2014, supply-chain expenditure grew six-fold, a process that has continued. In addition to this, from 2014 to 2016 MultiChoice Kenya paid US$13.5 million in dividends to KBC, spent US$24 million on digitisation and US$11.6 million was spent on its production infrastructure in the country.
- At that time, MultiChoice Nigeria had a positive direct economic impact of N34 billion and that, through various multipliers, this increased to N418 billion. In addition, the business paid N22.4 billion in taxes and fees and spent N9.98 billion on content and local production facilities.
Developing Local Sports And Content:
As a video entertainment company, we’ve built the skills and capacity to become the backbone of the content that our customers love. Our vision is to enable the growth of Africa’s creative industries and we are committed to delivering diverse programming and developing talent and production capabilities across the continent. We collaborate with talented filmmakers and producers to tell authentic African stories, while also creating jobs and economic opportunities across the value chain.
Original productions made in Africa are available across a wide range of channels including the popular Africa Magic channels, which are accessible to over 49 countries on the continent through DStv and GOtv. MultiChoice, through M-Net is committed to telling African stories that stand alongside the best stories in the world. We actively support the growth and development of the television production industry which results in the wider growth of the economy. From 2013 to date, MultiChoice has invested approximately US$580 million in content. Our investment in stories and programmes has reinvigorated film and television industries across the continent, resulting in a proliferation of exceptional original local productions and the discovery of talent both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. This investment has also created jobs for scriptwriters, actors, producers, directors and many other players in the industry.
In sport, we’ve supported teams and national leagues to reach new audiences, grow revenues and build their capabilities. Through SuperSport, we have made significant investments to encourage the development of sport, from licensing to content production, sponsorships and skills training.
We collaborate with talented filmmakers and producers to tell authentic African stories, while also creating jobs and economic opportunities across the value chain. Our original productions made in Africa by authentic African storytellers are available across a wide range of channels including the popular Africa Magic channels, which are accessible to over 49 countries on the continent through DStv and GOtv. MultiChoice, through M-Net is committed to telling African stories that stand alongside the best stories in the world.
Creating Shared Value for the creative industry:
To further our investment in the communities where we operate and ensure a future pipeline of more authentic local stories, MultiChoice Africa introduced a Corporate Social Value (CSV) initiative called MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) in May 2018 to develop emerging TV and film talent whilst simultaneously promoting the growth of local content production.
The MTF initiative is delivered in three phases: a training Academy; a talent portal and Masterclasses - with the MTF Academy kicking off the pilot academic year from 01 October 2018 at three regional MTF Academies hubs based in Kenya for East Africa region, Nigeria for the West African region and Zambia for the Southern Africa region.
The educational programme will furnish 60 (20 for each region) deserving young people from 13 countries in Africa who want to work and innovate in film and television production with skillsets to develop their talent, connect with industry professionals and tell authentic African stories through a comprehensive curriculum comprising of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling.
During the course of the programme, MTF Academy students will produce television and film content that will be aired on our local M-Net channels across MultiChoice’s DStv & GOtv platforms including Africa Magic channels, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo, Zambezi Magic, M-Net and SuperSport. Upon graduation from the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy, the MTF student will leave the Academy with the knowledge and skills to contribute professionally to the African film and television industry.
This exciting initiative reaffirms our commitment to igniting Africa’s creative industry and supporting emerging local talent who will deliver a more professionalized and networked film and television industry while expanding a community of passionate, skilled youth who are creating relevant, world-class African content.
Delivering A Value Strategy:
Recently, currency devaluations have exposed a structurally challenged business model with high fixed costs (most of which are USD denominated) and an inability to use pricing to maintain profitability. As a result, MultiChoice Africa embarked on a turnaround plan that involved a strategic shift towards a “Value Strategy”. Introduced in 2016, this strategy involved making key driver content available at more attractive price points to drive substantial subscriber uptake in DStv and GOtv. The barrier to entry was also reduced through deeper subsidies and reducing pricing in outlier markets.
MultiChoice also introduced an intensive business review with the aim of cutting and realigning costs for the business to operate optimally in the current financial environment. The business continues to execute against the following 7-point strategy aimed at materially growing the business, reducing costs and improving on key capabilities to deliver a quality entertainment service in Africa:
- Review pricing
- Accelerate acquisition of new subscribers through attractive decoder and content offers
- Facilitate growth by reducing costs
- Realign bouquet structure
- Create a top-class subscriber retention capability
- Build the customer resources to drive sales, retention and customer care
- Improve customer experience through implementation of our #CustomerFirst strategy
A Commitment to Delivering Customer Satisfaction:
Our state of the art technology and superior channel offering would however mean nothing if MultiChoice did not understand the importance of looking after our customers. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, including our aim towards ensuring customer satisfaction at every touch point where our customers interact with us. Our customer service centres across the continent provide support to subscribers, supported by local partners to deal with the more complex issues. Help and advice for routine issues can easily be found using automated customer support messaging and online via the DStv and GOtv Eazy Self Service platforms or via our Social Media platforms to provide customers with more convenience to manage their accounts and avoid the need for customer queues while relieving the pressure off call centre agents.
The combination of state of the art technology, continual development, a true customer-focus and a diversity of tailored content, ensures that MultiChoice Africa continues to enjoy year on year growth that exceeds expectations. As an African company, MultiChoice is dedicated to the continent and enriching the lives of the people in Africa. As such MultiChoice believes that long-term investment in community development makes for sustainable business.
MultiChoice continues to strive to ensure African subscribers have the same viewing opportunities as their peers throughout the world – technology, viewing quality and local and international content. MultiChoice looks forward to many more years of delivering world-class premium content and services to our viewers.
Joan Semanda Kizza
PR and Communications Manager