AfricaXP goes all out to beat the market’s pay TV blues by developing its own free-to-air satellite TV platform,

7 May 2019Top Story

Kwese’s withdrawal from the Sub-Saharan African pay TV market late last year was one of a long string of failures in this sector. Content distributor and linear channel creator AfricaXP has been riding the ups and downs of supplying pay TV operators and decided to create its own free-to-air platform. Russell Southwood talked to AfricaXP founder and CEO about its new platform

Distributor AfricaXP launched its first linear channels in 2013 and pioneered the idea of selling low-cost channels that would enable new operators to get a foothold in the market. It offered tech-convenient services like remote and cloud play-out along with a non-exclusive multi-platform, multi-territory commercial model for both pay TV and OTT operators.

As we talk about the market, Craig Kelly takes me through the failures and market stresses that the pay TV market is going through. At the level of the “big players”, DStv has been performing less well, was up for sale at one point and is now being spun out of Naspers because its returns are too low. Wananchi-owned Zuku has also been up for sale and is not making waves in terms of market share. Kwese TV went all-in to become a pay TV player but pulled when it failed to get the volume of subscribers needed.

The survivors have been StarTimes, sub-regional East African player Azam TV, Openview HD and Kenya’s Bamba Digital Television. The players no longer in the market include: GTV, Trend TV, Consat, TOP TV, actv, MyTV and Smart TV. Alongside this pay TV market, the new revenues are equally uncertain. Kwese TV took over iflix Africa after it failed to get sufficient traction. BuniTV was bought out by Trace. PCCW’s has closed.

As Kelly observed:” The existing model focused on selling content to unstable broadcasters has not yielded sustainable growth for 20 years and cannot be considered a sensible ‘business development’ strategy’. Content owners need to identify other revenue sources.”

As a result, AfricaXP began to focus on the idea of an ad-supported TV platform. International advertising agencies have long looked for a way of focusing cost-effectively on different parts of the continent for their brands:” The market aspires to having access to a multichannel “Pay TV like” entertainment experience but largely cannot afford Pay TV so the market is ripe for a quality FTA DTH bouquet.”

Building free-to-air audiences will come from three different directions: through a satellite platform, supply non-exclusively to third party platforms (DTT, Pay, Local FTAs as low cost as possible to ensure carriage) and to create a free, ad-supported MNO platform. To glue all this together, AfricaXP is working with a specialist ad sales agency and in the future, will conduct audience research to demonstrate its proposition.

Adnet Media is the newly formed Advertising Media Sales House, representing media opportunities across platforms, across Africa. Its first two media platforms are AfricaXP’s Premium.Free a DTH FTA TV bouquet in West Africa and Taxi Times, distributed fortnightly at taxi ranks across South Africa. It is headed up by Dave Kelly and Debbie Brady, both of whom have considerable experience in ad sales.

The biggest part of AfricaXP’s strategy is Premium.Free, a new 13 channel TV bouquet transmitted on the SES West Africa Astra 2G KU-Band beam at 28.2°E This satellite beam reaches well in excess of 9 million TV households in West Africa. The bouquet has four channels of completely African content: True African (Movies, Series, Lifestyle – 65% West African), Afriwood (frican Soaps and Drama Series – 65% West African), Pulse P (Local, African and International Music, Interactive, Gossip and Youth Lifestyle) and Cinema Hausa (Hausa movies and Series)

There are 6 international channels with 20% localized content including: Life TV, fresh, Gospellife, Kiddiwinks. LOL Africa and Sports Connect. Finally there are three international channels: Fight Night, Romanza Africa (telenovelas) and Limelight (international movies and series).

Digital Landscapes 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa’s Digital Landscape and its Top 11 Markets

Digital Landscapes 2019

Balancing Act has just published a 148 pp report called Sub-Saharan Africa’s Digital Landscape and its Top 11 Markets – data prices, smartphones, digital content and services and e-commerce. After four year’s research, it’s my analysis of how big Sub-Saharan Africa’s online activity really is; who’s actually paying for anything; how they’re paying for it; and what they’re doing in terms of online behavior (both content and services). It has over a thousand data points in it, many from completely new sources. I think you and your colleagues will find it very interesting and useful. The report is now published and the price is GBP1,650.

If you’re interested in seeing Contents Page and a full listing of all tables and graphics just mail me send me an email requesting it. To buy the report, just send me an email requesting an invoice:

Small Business SA

Interview With AFRICA XP – CEO (Craig Kelly)
TMTv-SA was front and center in Johannesburg, South Africa, mingling, making connections and striking deals at Discop, the largest film and television expo that takes place twice a year on the continent. While there, Daphne Fitzgerald took the opportunity to zero in on the business aspect of film and television. She wanted to talk to key industry players to find out more about their contribution to this high-energy industry.
First up is Craig Kelly, CEO of Africa XP, one of the companies that stand right in the middle of the explosion of African content production and distribution


VivaBox Partners with AfricaXP

VivaBox partners with AfricaXP to provide premium content for MTNTV Ghana

1 June 2018


Johannesburg, May 30, 2018 – AfricaXP(AXP), Africa’s leading provider of premium themed content announced today that VivaBox DMS, a leading turn-key Mobile IPTV/OTT provider for Telco’s has signed a multi-year contract to provide premium content for MTN-TV (Ghana).

Under this agreement, 10 premium AXP channels will be provided to VivaBox for the MTNTV platform. MTN Ghana’s 14 million subscribers will have access these channels specially themed to meet the needs of the African market.

AfricaXP, Head of Channels, Francois Schreuder said: “our channels are themed with the audience in mind. The bouquet brings a balance of African, kids content, sports, telenovelas, lifestyle, factual and International movies to the audience. We are delighted to partner with Vivabox”

Executive Director at VivaBox Ghana, H.E Princess A. Ocansey, noted: “The Premium-one blends AXP content and top local channels into an affordable, yet appealing bouquet to the Ghanaian viewer”.

AfricaXP maintained it’s commitment to support innovation on the continent according to CEO, Craig Kelly, who noted “we are passionate about supporting new and innovative offerings on the continent, and our channels will be a compelling addition to the VivaBox powered MTN-TV platform. The subscriber base, technology and content make a win win scenario for all and we look forward to a fruitful relationship in the coming years”.

VivaBox CEO, Julius Nyingmeh, said: “AfricaXP is a valued partner. This deal further strengthens our pan-African expansion strategy to provide turn-key solutions to telco’s. It’s about combining exciting African content with carrier grade technology, partnering with MTN Ghana to make this affordable to the end-user without compromising the viewer experience.

AXP channels will be offered in the MTNTV Premium-one bouquet from July 2018, alongside International news and local Ghanaian channels. MTN subscribers with access to a smart device will be able to access the MTN-TV app on Android, IOS and Web while the Viva 4G and Viva-Connect Tv Boxes will be available for homes and MTN Fiber to the home subscribers.