Multichoice says goodbye to more premium subscribers

 ·13 Jun 2023

DStv operator Multichoice has published its full-year results ending March 2023, reporting a loss of R2.92 billion for the year, while subscriber numbers in South Africa suffered amid harsh economic headwinds.

Group revenue increased 7% to R59.1 billion (2022: R55.2 billion), with costs and expenses rising 9% and 12%, respectively.

Operating profit before taxes and foreign exchange losses amounted to R10.16 billion, down 1% from R10.3 billion recorded in 2022. Profit before tax was R921 million but dropped to a loss of R2.92 billion after tax (from a profit of R2.9 billion in 2022).

No dividend was declared given the challenging South African market, the uncertain currency outlook, the funding needs of the Rest of Africa (RoA) business segment and the investment required to drive Showmax to become the leading streaming platform on the continent, said Multichoice.

South Africa performance

Multichoice noted that its South African operations saw further growth in the mass market segment, mainly at the cost of premium and middle-market subscribers.

It reported 9.3 million 90-day active subscribers in the country, up 3% from last year.

However, it noted that the middle market was under pressure, as subscribers in this segment are most impacted by the hostile economic environment, including high unemployment rates, consumer indebtedness, rising inflation and interest rates, and load shedding.

“Permanent high stages of load shedding, interest rate hikes and elevated inflation levels have left a large portion of the group’s customer base unable to watch or afford video entertainment services,” it said.

“Although SA 90-day subscribers grew by 0.3 million YoY, lower levels of activity, represented by active days, were experienced, which resulted in a 2% decline in SA revenue,” it added.

This resulted in a drop in premium subscribers over the period, declining by 6% as of 31 March 2023.

Overall, the group now has approximately 1.3 million premium subscribers (-6%), 2.7 million middle-market accounts (-3%) and 5.3 million mass-market accounts (+10%)

Revenue in South Africa decreased by 2% to R35 billion due to a weakened consumer environment, especially in the second half of the financial year.

The monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) declined 5% from R269 to R256, reflecting the mid-market being the most exposed to the current macroeconomic pressures and the mass market still demonstrating room to grow.

The group added that the revenue of R35.0 billion, down 2% YoY, was affected by a 3% decline in subscription revenues, partially offset by a R200 million increase in other revenue attributed to growth in insurance premiums.

“As the South African business matures, generating additional revenue streams and driving value-added services to counteract reducing ARPU and margin pressure remains a key focus,” it said.

Multichoice noted, however, that DStv Internet grew by 51,000 subscribers and increased revenues to R133 million (FY22: R15 million).

Looking forward, Multichoice said the core video entertainment business, specifically navigating the impact of the ongoing economic and energy challenges in South Africa, will remain a central focus for FY24.

“A new executive team has been appointed to face the challenge head-on,” it said.

“They will be looking to leverage on the exceptional content slate, which this year includes the Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks are the defending champions, while tight cost management remains an utmost priority,” it added.

Read: Trouble for Multichoice

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