MultiChoice Group will launch a significantly overhauled and upgraded version of its streaming platform, Showmax, before the end of the year, CEO Calvo Mawela said.
Mawela, speaking to TechCentral following the publication last week of the broadcaster’s annual results, said “version 2” of Showmax will include strategic and technical input from new partner and co-investor NBCUniversal.
MultiChoice announced in March that NBCUniversal would acquire a 30% stake in Showmax as part of a plan to build the leading internet video streaming platform in Africa.
The agreement, which includes NBCUniversal sister company Sky – both firms are owned by Nasdaq-listed media giant Comcast — includes the supply of technology as well as new content to Showmax subscribers. MultiChoice has retained a 70% stake in the business.
“Powered by Peacock’s leading, globally scaled technology, Showmax subscribers will have access to an extensive premium content portfolio, bringing African audiences the best of local and international programming,” MultiChoice said in March. Peacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming platform.
“The service will combine MultiChoice’s accelerating investment in local content with a pipeline of award-winning and critically acclaimed 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 football.”
Mawela has now told TechCentral that the deal with NBCUniversal means Showmax has a “secure pipeline” of international content “over a long period”. Showmax can also “source the best in technology because they have more engineers than we can ever hire”.
“Showmax version 2 will launch in the fourth quarter with a broader line-up of content, a better product offering, better user interface and more streams on live sport, and will be underpinned by the English Premier League,” he added.
Showmax will remain a separate offering, distinct from DStv and “appealing to a streaming population that continues to grow” and who “might want sport as part of that offering”.
Meanwhile, a television hardware solution being developed in partnership with Sky called DStv Glass will launch within the next 18 months in South Africa, Mawela said. DStv Glass, which will offer a flat-screen TV and integrated soundbar, along with a slick new user interface, had been expected to be available for sale this year, but was delayed to tweak the offering further for local audience needs.
“As we got deeper into discussions … we began to realise that our markets (the UK and South Africa) are totally different. The kind of streaming they are used to is not the same as here. We have lower bitrates. We realised we needed a bespoke offering that can address the conditions that DStv Glass will operate under in our market. Was the hardware going to be too expensive? No, it’s more about the features that come through. It has to do with broadband penetration,” he said. Mawela committed to the launch of DStv Glass in 2024. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media