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Race to Lead Africa’s Streaming Market: Multichoice Partners With NBCUniversal, Sky to Contend with Netflix, Amazon

MultiChoice Group and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky today announced a new partnership that will ramp up content and bolster technology accessible 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.

MultiChoice will relaunch its streaming platform — Africa’s largest — Showmax, powered by NBCUniversal’s Peacock technology, along with content from NBCUniversal and Sky, offering audiences local and global entertainment, as well as live matches of the English Premier League (EPL) football.

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.

Showmax subscribers will have access to a service that will combine MultiChoice’s increasing investment in local content with a pipeline of premium 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.

Multichoice and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky Partner to Create Leading Streaming Service in Africa
Multichoice and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky Partner to Create Leading Streaming Service in Africa

The partnership will also provide access to all Showmax Originals and local content from MultiChoice’s proprietary channels including Mzansi Magic, Africa Magic, and Maisha Magic.

It’s a shrewd move by Multichoice as it faces aggressive competition from the imports via American platforms Netflix and Amazon to start. Disney, which is currently available as a service in at least six African countries, has yet to fully show its hand in terms of plans for local content investment.

Currently, Netflix dominates in subscriber count, despite its relatively recent entry into the African region.

One key question that remains unanswered is whether Multichoice’s African content offerings (investment in African originals is on the rise) will become available to American subscribers of NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform.

The new Showmax group will be 70% owned by MultiChoice and 30% by NBCUniversal (In Nigeria, NBCUniversal will hold an indirect 23.7% stake in the local subsidiary). It will build on Showmax’s success to date and aim to create the leading streaming service in Africa.

Via Statistica

“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.”

“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,” said Dana Strong, Group Chief Executive Officer, Sky. “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.”

Further details about the new Showmax service, including the launch date, content, and pricing will be announced at a later date.