MultiChoice is talking up the prospects of DStv streaming and Showmax, but ask the company about subscriber numbers, and answers become hard to find.
DStv’s over-the-top (OTT) platforms, which are its answer to competition from Netflix and Disney+, include users on the DStv app and Showmax.
In its latest financial results, MultiChoice said Connected Video continues to grow as broadband penetration improves and online consumption increases.
The year-on-year growth rate for paying Showmax subscribers was a strong 50%, while the overall online user base increased by 13%.
Showmax Pro, MultiChoice’s standalone OTT sports product, also enjoyed strong growth on the back of broadcasting the English Premier League and UEFA championships.
The growth in online subscribers sounds promising, but the big question among investors is how much DStv streaming and Showmax contribute to the bottom line.
It is also unclear how many Showmax and ShowMax Pro subscribers there are and how many people have signed up for DStv’s streaming services.
Jonathan Kennedy-Good, an executive director at J.P. Morgan, highlighted that a lack of information about Connected Video makes it difficult to assess the impact on the business.
He asked MultiChoice executives what contribution Connected Video makes to subscription revenues and the growth rate inside the revenue base.
MultiChoice CFO Tim Jacobs was not willing to provide information on their Connected Video revenue and subscriber numbers.
“We have made a decision to be very cagey about what information they share as it is competitive and price sensitive,” he said.
The decision was based on the competitive landscape of video streaming services and the fact that they do not get much information from other participants in the market.
“We, therefore, don’t disclose the contribution Connected Video makes to topline revenue or subscriber numbers,” he said.
One analyst told Daily Investor they are sceptical of Jacobs’ explanation and that MultiChoice most likely keeps the numbers secret to hide the small size of their streaming platform.
Another stakeholder said Showmax might still be loss-making. If this is the case, it is not clear what the path to profitability is.
Showmax versus Netflix
Without official Showmax subscriber numbers, it is difficult to see how it performs against competing platforms like Netflix.
At this stage, the best option is to use services like Google Trends and Similarweb to compare audiences.
Google Trends reveals three times more searches in South Africa for Netflix than for Showmax.
Similarweb’s latest data shows that Netflix is the seventh most popular website in South Africa, higher than DStv, 10th, and Showmax, 37th.
The chart below shows the search traffic for Netflix and Showmax over the last five years.