MultiChoice’s strategy to fight Netflix and Disney+

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said it is positioning its offerings as the “home of local and sport” as a differentiator to compete in the streaming market.

Mawela spoke to CNBC Africa’s Fifi Peters at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

MultiChoice faces increased competition from streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+.

Amazon is also expected to launch a marketplace and its Amazon Prime membership programme in South Africa this year, which will bring even more competition to the streaming market.

Commenting on the rise of streaming services in South Africa, Mawela said they are being disrupted by the technology.

People are dumping their expensive satellite DStv subscriptions for more affordable streaming alternatives.

“Once you are disrupted by technology, you must follow suit. If you stay and don’t move with technological changes, you are going to suffer in the end,” he said.

MultiChoice’s answer to Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime is Showmax, which Mawela said improved significantly over the last few years.

“Showmax has improved a lot. It is more user-friendly, and the look and feel is much better,” he said.

The amount of unique content produced for Showmax has also increased significantly over the years.

Mawela said shows like Reyka, which received an Emmy nomination, indicate that MultiChoice can compete globally.

“Reyka and My Kitchen Rules show that locally produced shows have international appeal,” he said.

For us, producing local content is a business imperative. People love to watch themselves and their stories on television.

It also helps us to limit our exposure to foreign currency risk. In Africa, we often experience currency depreciation, and we can get an immediate return by producing content in local currencies.

The MultiChoice CEO said their unique selling point, which sets them apart from their competitors, is local content and sport.

“We are positioning ourselves as the home of local and the home of sport in the streaming wars that we are facing,” Mawela said.

The increased investment in local content and sport has helped to increase paying ShowMax subscribers by 50% over the last year.

Mawela is upbeat about their streaming prospects, saying they continue to see strong uptake of their streaming products.

“Competition is good for us. It keeps us on our toes, makes us more efficient, and makes us more creative,” he said.

“We embrace competition and believe we remain well positioned to be the leading platform in Africa.”