Showmax tips Sky executive to lead African growth

Top Sky executive Andrea Zappia was named chairman of Africa’s biggest streaming service, MultiChoice’s Showmax, after a deal with Comcast, as it seeks to rival the likes of Netflix and significantly grow its revenue on the continent. 

Zappia, who was the chief executive officer of Sky’s new markets and businesses, became chairman this month, according to his LinkedIn profile and confirmed by MultiChoice. He joined the board of MultiChoice in September.

Showmax, which already operates in 50 African countries, re-launched its service on Monday with Comcast’s backing and technology.

The streaming service plans to generate $1 billion (R18.67 billion) in revenue in five years, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said. The group has not reported revenue numbers for Showmax separately before. 

MultiChoice and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky formed a partnership in March to grow audiences on the African continent – which is home to the fastest-growing population in the world.

MultiChoice currently holds 70% of Showmax, and Comcast the balance – with the right to expand its holding, Mawela said.

The venture also sees an opportunity to grow its audience in categories such as football and local shows as young and tech-savvy Africans are turning to their phones for services ranging from banking to entertainment.

The new offering will operate on the Peacock streaming platform and show the English Premier League as part of its offering.

“The benefit of the partnership between Comcast and MultiChoice is to take international experience and combine that with our African experience – and that makes us very competitive on the continent,” said Showmax CEO Marc Jury in an interview. “The plan is to significantly scale the business.”