Cell C's huge content bill for Black revealed - TechCentral

Cell C’s huge content bill for Black revealed

Cell C spent R523.9-million acquiring programming and movie rights for its Black video-streaming platform in the 2018 financial year, the mobile operator has revealed.

It spent a similarly large amount in the 2017 financial year — R528.3-million.

The numbers are contained in Cell C’s preliminary and unaudited financial results for the year ended 31 December 2018 and published on shareholder Blue Label Telecoms’ website.

The disclosures show that accumulated depreciation and impairments related to the acquisition of these content rights amounted to R231-million at the end of 2018.

This spending relates to “contractual obligations for programme and film rights, acquired for the period between three and five years”.

Cell C interim CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson hinted on Thursday that the company could review the levels of investment. He declined, however, to speculate on the future numbers.

Non-current liabilities related to programme and film rights amounted to R207.5-million in 2018, down from R364.2-million in 2017, Cell C said. Current liabilities related to these rights were R163.7-million, compared to 2017’s R102.4-million.

‘Doesn’t come cheap’

Cell C launched Black in November 2017, taking aim at both MultiChoice and streaming video providers such as Netflix and Showmax. At the time, former Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said the company had invested a “couple of hundred million” rand in the platform. “This content doesn’t come cheap,” he said.

In August 2018, Cell C said about 2.5 million people had browsed through the Black catalogue. At the time, 260 000 customers had accessed it using a free trial option, with 60 000 transactions completed to date.

The mobile operator has aggressively zero-rated (provided free data) to Black subscribers in an effort to grow adoption of the platform.  — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media

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