AMC Networks shuts streamer Acorn TV in South Africa

In a sudden and unexpected move, AMC Networks-owned stream Acorn TV has told subscribers in South Africa that it is shutting down. Four years after arriving in the market, Acorn posted a message on its service that said: “We regret to inform you that Acorn TV will shut down in South Africa by the end of 2022. Please cancel your subscription by going to My Acorn TV and then Manage Account.”

South Africa is a highly-competitive streaming market where the likes of Netflix and Disney+ are slugging it out with the likes of Multichoice’s Showmax and the newly-launched SABC+. As yet, AMC Networks has made no official comment.

During its most recent financial results (Q3, 2022), AMC Networks’ new CEO Christina Spade said the company expected its overall streaming business to be around 12 million by the end of the year. She said there was “a good runway for streaming growth” ahead. The company is aiming for 20-25 million streaming subs by 2025.

The closure of Acorn TV in South Africa may simply be a response to local market conditions. But It may also signal the start of a consolidation period for Acorn TV, which is currently available in around 30 territories. Rival streamer Lionsgate retrenched recently, closing local streaming operations across several markets.

Any further closes of local Acorn TV services might suggest an increased emphasis on sister platform AMC+, which first saw the light of day in 2020. Until that point, Acorn was the jewel in AMC’s streaming crown, with subs of around 1 million. But the last year has mainly been about the expansion of AMC+, which launched in Spain, Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia during October. Given the extreme pressure that exists for consumer eyeballs, the company may be mooting a merged SVOD offer.

Also worth noting is that AMC has been moving aggressively into FAST channels, which opens up the possibility of a new advertising revenue stream.

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