Canal+/ MultiChoice: The making of an African giant

After months of negotiating, Canal+ and MultiChoice have finally come together and are moving forward, with the French pay TV giant to acquire 100% control of the South African outfit. 


Source: MultiChoice

As a major shareholder Canal+ has upped its stake in MultiChoice over the last three-years, but these recent negotiations between the two companies first kicked off in February. The group offered a US$1.7 billion bid to acquire a 68% stake in the African pay TV platform that it does not already own, that was later rejected by MultiChoice as it “significantly undervalues the group and its future prospects”, according to the company.

However, Canal+ did increase its stake in MultiChoice to 35.01%, up from the 31.67% it previously held. The South African Watchdog Takeover Regulation Panel (TRP) henceforth ruled that Canal+ had to put forward a mandatory offer to MultiChoice, having crossed the 35% ownership threshold. As of result, Canal+ agreed the terms with MultiChoice to acquire full control of the African provider, raising its offer from the ZAR105 per ordinary share to ZAR125.

Commenting on the acquisition, the Vivendi-owned company said it aims to create a combined African media group with “enhanced scale, which can thrive in a competitive international market.” However, Canal+ highlighted MultiChoice is up against the “firepower of global media titans,” such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney when competing in an increasingly globalised industry.


MultiChoice and its operated streaming service Showmax has faced growing competition from Netflix, with the global streaming leader strengthening its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to DTVE’s sister research company Omdia, Netflix had 1.8 million subscribers across the African continent at the end of November 2023, short of Showmax’s 2.1 million. However, Digital TV Research predicts by 2029 the African streamer will reach 3.7 million subscribers and Netflix will become the SVOD market leader in the region with 6.9 million subs.

Canal+ has argued the deal will deliver significant scale to MultiChoice that it requires in order achieve longevity and growth within an increasingly competitive market. Similarly, Omdia’s media and entertainment analyst Samuel Nkwam says, the landmark deal will create a “pay-TV behemoth” within the Sub-Saharan African region.

The Canal+ international business has been operating across Africa over 30 years, with 8.1 million subscribers. The provider is available in more than 25 countries including Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinea and Cameroon, through 16 subsidiaries and over 300 partners and distributors. It is also the leading operator for pay TV in French-speaking African territories, providing access to more than 400 channels.

Speaking to DTVE, Nkwam explains: “The deal will enable the two companies to consolidate their respective operations, through shared infrastructure, which could also improve margins amid rapidly rising inflation, creating the necessary resources to gain scale and invest in both premium international and local African content.”

MultiChoice reported at the end of last year during a six-month period ending September 30, its core earnings were down by 5% to ZAR1.9bn equivalent to USD $105 million. The South African pay TV operator also recorded customer numbers fell by 5% to 8.6 million. However, group revenue grew by 4% and Showmax saw more than a 25% of subscription revenue increase. The increased investment in the relaunch of the streaming platform in February attributed to cash loss, but its active subscriber base increased by 13% YoY.

“Interest in MultiChoice is part of a broader strategy by Canal+ to consolidate the pay-TV and online video-streaming markets across francophone and anglophone Africa,” explains Nkwam. “This acquisition makes strategic sense for Canal+, given the collapse of MultiChoice’s share price in 2023, the synergies that can be accrued with this business model, and the declining ZAR relative to the US dollar and Euro. MultiChoice’s Rest of Africa subscriptions surpassed South Africa’s in 2019 and will likely be seen by Canal+ as the key growth engine of MultiChoice going forward.”

He adds, the consolidation of the two pay TV companies in sub-Saharan Africa will give MultiChoice “greater economies of scale, access to more content via Canal+ and its affiliates, and greater pricing power with respect to increasing subscription fees.”

Sports rights

Live sports content is expected to be a key highlight of the African combined group, with both companies being major sport rights-holders in the region. MultiChoice, also behind leading African broadcaster SuperSport, and Canal+ have a combined sports offering of the Premier League, Champions League, AFCON, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Bundesliga, PGA Championship, Formula One and MotoGP.

Nkwam notes the majority of sports rights deals managed in Africa are on a whole-of-subcontinent or language-specific basis, rather than market by market.

He says, “this acquisition will give the newly formed Canal+ MultiChoice entity a dominant position across English and French speaking markets, weakening both the bargain power of live sports content owners looking to distribute into sub-Saharan Africa and potential pay-TV competitors who have far more diluted geographic reach in the region.”

With the two companies engaging in exclusive talks and agreeing to mutually cooperate with one another following the revised offer, it is expected that this transaction will close.

“Regulatory hurdles such as the limit on foreign ownership of South African broadcasters to 20% have persisted, but Canal+ is confident that it can overcome such hurdles and complete this acquisition,” says the Omdia analyst. “It is still unclear whether, and for how long, the companies will be run as separate pay-TV offerings but, this deal would create the undisputed pay-TV giant of sub-Saharan Africa.”

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