MultiChoice, a prominent media company, has announced a staggering after-tax loss of R911 million ($50.2 million) during the six months spanning from April 1 to September 30, 2023. This is coming as a substantial downturn compared to the R55 million after-tax profit reported in the corresponding period last year.
The company also experienced a 1% decline in revenue, slipping from R28.7 billion to R28.3 billion. Operating profit followed suit, plummeting 22% from R6.2 billion to R4.8 billion.
In addition to these setbacks, MultiChoice’s free cash flow witnessed a significant drop, standing at R1.07 billion, reflecting a 40% decrease from the R1.8 billion reported in the previous year.
Mixed fortunes across regions impact MultiChoice’s 90-day metrics
In its 90-day active subscriber base, MultiChoice observed a growth of 70,000 DStv subscribers in its Rest-of-Africa division. Conversely, in South Africa, it faced a setback, losing 486,000 subscribers. This led to a net decline of 416,000 90-day active subscribers across the entire group. Notably, this has come as the first instance of a decrease in DStv’s overall subscriber numbers based on this measure.
MultiChoice South Africa also experienced a 3% dip in external revenue, falling from R17.05 billion ($933 million) to R16.54 billion ($905.5 million). Concurrently, the trading profit took a substantial hit, decreasing by over 17%, moving from R6.3 billion ($345.7 million) to R5.2 billion ($285.3 million).
Showmax on the other hand witnessed a substantial surge in external revenue, jumping by 46% from R381 million to R555 million. Despite this positive revenue trend, trading losses experienced a notable escalation, rising from R279 million to R799 million.
MultiChoice however attributed the decline in profitability to factors such as power interruptions, elevated cost of living pressures, and significant depreciation of local currencies against the US dollar.
“The impact was mitigated by a change in focus towards subscriber retention, an improved customer mix, as well as ongoing annual pricing and cost-saving disciplines,” the company said.
“As a result, the group was able to maintain a positive trading profit in the Rest of Africa (a ZAR2.2bn organic improvement YoY) and delivered a 31% trading margin in South Africa.”
MultiChoice also noted a transition from a period of robust growth, primarily associated with the FIFA World Cup in the preceding six months. Additionally, the reporting period coincided with the commencement of the Rugby World Cup in early September.
“The South African business had to contend with the effects of ongoing high levels of load-shedding as 43% of the days in the reporting period were impacted by stage 4–6 load-shedding,” MultiChoice stated.
“Subscriber growth was also affected by a decision to remove 311k non-revenue generating customers (linked to special load-shedding campaigns) from the base.”
MultiChoice’s investments: Growth in premium subscribers, local content, and World Cup sponsorship
MultiChoice reported a positive shift with a 5% growth in its premium customer base, marking a trend not seen in many years. The company recorded a 4% increase in total content costs in organic terms (with a +10% reported increase), primarily due to continued investment in local content, which saw a 16% year-over-year boost.
Emphasizing its commitment to local content, MultiChoice highlighted the investment in Shaka iLembe, a show that commenced airing in June. The company also allocated funds to various World Cups held in the first half of the year, including Netball, Women’s football, and the initial stages of the Rugby World Cup tournament.
To manage these increases, MultiChoice employed continuous optimization of its international content portfolio. In the face of operational risks stemming from volatile currencies and consumer pressures, coupled with the medium-term investment cycle for Showmax, the company remains steadfast in its focus on cash generation and safeguarding the balance sheet.
Talking about MultiChoice showcasing societal diversity, its diverse international content portfolio plays a vital role in bridging cultural gaps and fostering understanding. Through ongoing optimization efforts, the company ensures a broad spectrum of perspectives, contributing to a more inclusive and globally aware audience.
The company’s focus on cash generation and safeguarding the balance sheet is not just a financial strategy but a responsible approach to ensure continued support for the communities it serves.
However, the financial challenges faced by the company are likely to raise concerns about the company’s fiscal health and will likely prompt stakeholders and industry analysts to closely monitor MultiChoice’s strategies for recovery and future financial stability.
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