|Free-to-air digital terrestrial television operators are expanding significantly thanks to interest in sports content. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Gateway’s (GTV’s) exclusive broadcast rights for 80% of English Premiere League football programming is driving the adoption of GTV’s pay-TV services in close to a dozen countries. GTV’s expansion intends to secure sports subscribers in 25 Sub-Saharan countries by the end of 2008. |
“The appeal of GTV is a combination of sports programming, international programming, and local content,” says analyst Anna Maxbauer, author of the IMS Research study Emerging DTV Markets: Africa and the Middle East. “GTV’s G Prime local content offerings in particular are attractive to African consumers wanting an alternative to MultiChoice’s South Africa-focused local programming.” Though it was speculated that GTV would challenge incumbent South African operator MultiChoice for control of digital TV in Sub-Saharan Africa, the exclusive markets currently managed by each company make for little direct competition. GTV does not plan to begin transmissions in Nigeria or South Africa, where the remaining 20% of the Premiere League broadcasts are managed by local operators.
Gateway’s role in African pay-DTH could change if broadcast rights to Premier League matches change hands when GTV’s contract expires in 2010. In Europe, German pay-TV operator growth depends on exclusive ownership of Bundesliga sports broadcast rights, and competition among operators in African markets may follow a similar path if interest in sports content remains strong
GTV’s domination of African football broadcasting has attracted the attention of the BBC, which may open the door to European broadcasts to African expatriate communities. In the meantime, GTV has entrenched itself in many Sub-Saharan African pay-DTH markets, where it offers a range of payment options for consumers looking to purchase equipment and services. In Kenya, GTV’s low pay-TV prices have already pushed MultiChoice to reconfigure its packages and pricing in order to stay competitive in a national market where less than 25,000 households subscribe to pay-DTH services. It is clear that sports programming is influencing the uptake of pay-TV services in developing African markets.
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