African TV and OTT video markets poised for growth

African TV and OTT video markets poised for growth
Published: 2 July 2018 - 5:43 a.m.
By: Pranav Vadehra

The number of households in the Sub-Saharan African region grew 21.8 percent between 2010 and 2017, while TV households grew with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 percent, during the same period, according to report by analyst IHS Markit.

The Sub-Saharan Africa TV and Online Video 2017 Market Monitor by IHS Markit provides a study of the state of the pay TV and the online subscription video markets in the Sub-Saharan African region.

Expectations of a potential media boom in Sub-Saharan Africa, caused by increasing GDP per-capita, should be tempered, said the analyst. Despite a 25 percent increase in disposable income over the past seven years, the growth of low-priced digital terrestrial television (DTT) services at the expense of incumbent DTT platforms has contributed to a significant decrease in the proportion of consumer entertainment spending.

A variety of limiting factors have hindered over-the-top (OTT) penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, there were just over 500,000 OTT subscriptions — excluding multiscreen services — across the region, including South Africa.

Although it faces challenges, the largest pay-TV market in the region, South Africa, is on a growing spree. Subscribers have doubled, growing from 3.6 million in 2010 to 7.1 million in 2017, while revenue grew with a CAGR of 15.2 percent during the same period.

The Sub-Saharan African TV and online video market are markets that are underdeveloped and, in the case of online video, at a very nascent stage of development. However, recent data from IHS Markit clearly points to strong growth.

Pay TV growth is closely linked with the state of the economy, and particularly with the disposable income of families. According to IHS Markit, between 2010 and 2017, gross domestic product per-capita across Sub-Saharan Africa increased 19.1 percent, while the per-capita disposable income rose by 25.5 percent during the same seven-year period. Consumer spending on goods and services, a crucial factor for pay TV growth, has increased by 20.3 percent over the same period.

Online video in Sub-Saharan Africa has had a delayed and sluggish start compared to the rest of the world, and its impact continues to be minimal despite several service launches and expansions in recent years. The following limiting factors are chiefly hindering both the pay TV and online video industries:
lack of infrastructure, relatively high access costs, volatile exchange rates, diversity of audiences in terms of language, and stringent regulation.

In 1986, South Africa was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to launch a pay TV service. It remains the most lucrative pay TV market in the region, with the largest number of subscriptions and highest revenue.

Despite its advanced status within the region, the South African pay TV market is the least competitive. In fact, one pay TV operator, Naspers Multichoice, has dominated the sector for more than 30 years. Naspers’ satellite service, DStv, controls over 93 percent of the market, in terms of both subscribers and revenue.

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