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MultiChoice to relaunch Showmax, powered by NBCUniversal’s Peacock technology platform, along with world-class content from NBCUniversal and Sky.
This will offer audiences the best experience with local and global entertainment, as well as live matches of the English Premier League (EPL) football.
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MultiChoice Group (MultiChoice) (JSE: MCG) and Comcast’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) NBCUniversal and Sky today announced a new partnership that will bring some of the world’s best content and technology to streaming customers across MultiChoice’s 50-market footprint in sub-Saharan Africa, at a time when Africa is approaching an inflection point in terms of broadband connectivity and affordability.
The new Showmax group will be 70% owned by MultiChoice and 30% by NBCUniversal.
It will build on Showmax’s success to date and aim to create the leading streaming service in Africa.
Powered by Peacock’s leading, globally-scaled technology, Showmax subscribers will have access to an extensive premium content portfolio, bringing African audiences the best of local and international programming.
The service will combine MultiChoice’s accelerating investment in local content with a unique pipeline of award-winning and critically acclaimed international content licensed from NBCUniversal and Sky, third-party content from HBO, Warner Brothers International, Sony and others, as well as live English Premier League (EPL) football.
The partnership will also provide access to all the best African content such as Showmax Originals and local content from MultiChoice’s proprietary channels including Mzansi Magic, Africa Magic and Maisha Magic.
Using a significant portfolio of global media assets and Peacock’s streaming platform, which finished 2022 with over 20 million paid subscribers in the US, NBCUniversal and Sky will provide ongoing support through the licensing of both technology and content.
“We launched Showmax as the first African streaming service in 2015 and are extremely proud of its success to date. This agreement represents a great opportunity for our Showmax team to scale even greater heights by working with a leading global player in Comcast and its subsidiaries,” said Calvo Mawela, Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice.
“The new business venture deepens an already strong relationship and builds on the Sky Glass technology partnership that we announced in September last year. We believe we are extremely well positioned to create a winning platform going forward.”
Dana Strong, Group Chief Executive Officer, Sky, commented, “This new collaboration in streaming and content with MultiChoice, NBCUniversal, and Sky takes our partnership to the next level in one of the world’s most vibrant, fastest growing markets. Last year, we announced MultiChoice as a customer of the Sky Glass platform and now we are excited to help innovate its Showmax streaming service.”
Matt Strauss, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer & International, NBCUniversal, added, “This partnership is an incredible opportunity to further scale the global presence of Peacock’s world-class streaming technology, as well as to introduce millions of new customers to extensive premium content from NBCUniversal and Sky’s stellar entertainment brands.”
MultiChoice explained that it has incorporated Earth UK Holdings Limited (EarthCo), a new UK-registered company that will trade as Showmax.
The DStv owner will contribute its existing Showmax business for a 70% equity stake in EarthCo.
MultiChoice will also provide ongoing business support through its local market expertise, local content production capabilities, its portfolio of general entertainment and sports rights licenses and its back-office support functions.
Through its subsidiary NBCUniversal, Comcast will inject cash for a 30% equity stake in EarthCo.
It will also provide ongoing support by licensing its Peacock platform and content from NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, Peacock, and Sky.
EarthCo will hold a 100% interest in Showmax SA Pty Ltd.
Showmax SA will own all the Showmax rights, assets and liabilities in South Africa, a 79% stake in MSA Limited Nigeria, and the rest of the African operations.
MSA Limited Nigeria will own MultiChoice’s Nigerian rights, assets and liabilities. The deal will result in Comcast owning an indirect stake in MSA Limited Nigeria of 23.7%.
EarthCo will be supported at launch by MultiChoice’s local pay-TV operations.
It will provide a streaming service on the African continent, powered by Peacock’s technology and using the Showmax brand.
MultiChoice and Comcast have committed to funding EarthCo during its investment phase in proportion to their shareholdings. EarthCo’s board of directors will initially consist of three representatives from MultiChoice, with additional appointments to be made in due course.
The board will appoint an executive management team featuring representatives from the existing Showmax structures, which will be infused with global talent in the coming months.
EarthCo’s senior leadership team will be based out of the UK and its Dubai branch.
Operational teams will be located in major markets, initially South Africa and Nigeria. The agreement does not involve broadband, wireless or cable video, or any other of the businesses of either Comcast or Sky.
It also excludes the linear satellite, terrestrial, and streaming video businesses of MultiChoice (apart from services support), all of which will continue to operate independently and at arm’s length.
“Due to competitive sensitivities, specifics about the unique service offering, how existing subscribers can seamlessly migrate to the new service and detailed pricing will be announced closer to the launch date,” MultiChoice stated.
What Happens next?
Further details about the new Showmax service, including the launch date, content and pricing will be announced at a later date.
This significantly changes the game in the fight for African streaming audiences. Showmax is no longer the underdog but is now top 2 contender to perhaps win more market share with this mega move.
The partnership offers growth opportunities in Africa, building on MultiChoice’s footprint across 50 markets, its excellent execution track record on the continent and the successful Showmax brand.
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