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Pay-TV Football Boom in Africa


GTV is pan-African pay-TV company which is building its offer around football, although it also has news and entertainment channels. Getting Premiership rights in a $30m three-year deal was crucial because of the prominence of so many African players in the competition. The studios of the channel are actually in Camden, North London, but this helps in terms of getting top players in for interview. As with Sky, getting sports coverage right is seen as the way to build the business with the objective being to provide 'coverage with an African slant, based around African players.' GTV also screens Italian Serie A and African football, including the Ugandan Super League, currently the country where GTV has the most success. Only one per cent of TV owners in Africa have pay-television compared with 25 per cent in Eastern Europe and 40 per cent in Latin America, but 45 million households have colour television. The aim is cut the price to a level that people can afford. GTV's packages cost from $10 to $35 a month. The aim is to undercut established rivals MultiChoice (owned by Naspers in South Africa) and Canal+ that operates in Francophone markets and provides a service aimed at affluent expatriates.

Senegal players celebrate getting their new digital set-top box
GTV, which was launched in the summer of 2007, has quickly acquired 100,000 subscribers, but this is less than MultiChoice's 1.5 million (although that includes 1.3 million in South Africa where GTV does not operate) and Canal+'s 180,000. Owner Julian McIntyre argues that, 'Africa is an exciting consumer market, going through its first period of sustained economic growth; people need to think beyond security issues.' GTV is not yet profitable, having invested $200m to get going, but predics break-even at the end of 2009 or early 2010, although that may require double the current number of subscribers. There is certainly a market in Sub-Saharan Africa to be tapped.