In last week’s Quarter 3 earnings call, Bob Chapek, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company said that his company’s streaming service will be launching in South Africa next year. Sadly for Zimbabweans, he said South Africa might be the only African country to initially get the service. Has that ever stopped us though?
The strength of Disney
Disney+ is a compelling service because of the breadth and depth of entertainment intellectual property that Disney has. Disney owns Marvel, the creative studio that produces some of the most popular super hero content out there. A few weeks ago, the newest movie in the Marvel cinematic universe, Black Widow was released on Disney+ and it earned more than US$60 million in its opening weekend on the streaming platform.
Other popular intellectual property assets owned by Disney include Star Wars and the animation studio Pixar. All these offer some of the most compelling entertainment in the world and here in Africa we are very familiar and big fans of the buckets of stories Disney tells. A lot of the movie franchises and their TV series spin offs will be exclusively available on Disney+.
DStv in trouble
Since the coming of Netflix to South Africa in 2016, things have been sketchy for Multichoice. The growth of subscribers for the more profitable DStv Premium and Compact+ slowed down and from 2018, the number of subscribers for these packages began to shrink. Last year Premium and Compact+ subscribers declined by 8%.
The launch of Disney+ next year will definitely make things worse for Multichoice.
DStv will not die just yet
An obituary for DStv cannot be written just yet. First, access to fast and reliable internet is not yet as wide spread in Africa (even South Africa) as it is in North America for example. This limits the reach of streaming services. Of course people who have access to reliable internet are most likely the same folks who could afford the more profitable bouquets in the first place so Multichoice’s margins will continue to be threatened.
The biggest strength that Multichoice still has though is live sports. They hold the rights to the most popular sporting events particularly the English Premier League. If you are a big fan of the EPL and you live in Africa then DStv’s Supersport is basically your only legitimate option.
Traditional linear television is dying a painful death and generally live events especially sports are what’s keeping it alive the world over. In the same way Supersport really is DStv’s lifeline. This will continue to be the case for a long time because sports broadcasting rights are flipping expensive!
Multichoice of course has its own answer to the Netflixes of this world and its name is Showmax. According to some 2018 survey, Showmax was more popular than Netflix in South Africa. Perhaps because of Multichoice’s investment in local content. If they continue with such investment in all the territories Showmax is offered they may as well really come out as the winners in Africa’s streaming battles.
A good decision made by DStv was also to make the English Premier League and other sporting events available on Showmax. Let’s not count DStv out just yet…