Africa’s biggest pay-TV firm, Multichoice Group Ltd, has started streaming live sports including Premier League soccer through an upgraded version of its Showmax service.
According to the head of the company’s Connected Video Division, Niclas Ekdahl, Multichoice is offering the new Showmax Pro in Nigeria and Kenya as of Tuesday and will add more sub-Saharan African countries over the next two months.
This business decision is designed to attract more subscribers and set Showmax apart from Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have both been expanding aggressively in Africa.
Multichoice had launched the video-on-demand service five years ago in order to halt movements from its more expensive TV service, thereby positioning itself as a better provider of more localized content than Netflix and Amazon.
However, in order to keep up with the trend, Netflix started to commission and screen Africa-produced dramas such as Queen Sono and Blood and Water, as part of its own strategy to attract viewers. Faster internet connections and cheaper packages on the continent have equally made online streaming a viable alternative to pay-TV.
The SuperSport unit of Multichoice is the most attractive of the media group’s broadcasts, showing live sports events like soccer, rugby, cricket and golf from all over the world. Sharing content with Showmax risks encouraging subscribers to move to a cheaper platform, although the Pro offering will be more expensive than the currently available service.
Showmax Pro, which will also have news and music channels, costs $19.66 a month in Kenya, compared with $7.11 for the sport-less version. DSTV packages in the East African country, with varying amounts of the sport, range from $39.32 to as much as $69.01.
According to Ekdahl, “A cheaper, smartphone-based version is also planned. With the mobile-only version, anyone with a smartphone in sub-Saharan Africa can access our content offering. This is something no other service is doing, and we think it’s a game-changer.”
It can be recalled that just last month, MultiChoice signed deals with Netflix and Amazon to offer their streaming services through its new decoder. The move is to help Africa’s largest pay-TV firm retain teeming subscribers and attract potential viewers.