MultiChoice Africa’s history begins in 1985 when Africa’s first pay TV channel, M-Net, was launched by a group of South African media companies, including Naspers. In the midst of one of the most turbulent political and economic periods in South African history, the launch was seen merely as a daring experiment with many sceptical of the idea.

M-Net first hit South African screens broadcasting 12 hours a day from its studios in Johannesburg. The company was driven by a group of energetic young entrepreneurs with a grand vision for the channel’s success.

The growth of M-Net

M-Net gained momentum, gradually increasing subscriber numbers beyond expectations and soon found itself reaching into all sectors of the economy.

Through this phase of growth, M-Net kept its focus on the viewer and meeting their needs with high quality programming and service. In 1988, the multi-award winning actuality program Carte Blanche was launched and in 1989, M-Net SuperSport was launched. Initially a show, SuperSport later becoming a stand-alone channel and now its own company broadcasting leading sports events from around the world.

Expanding across Africa

In the late eighties, M-Net embarked on a drive to expand its operations beyond South Africa. One of the founding members of the Africa team was Nolo Letele, currently chairman of MultiChoice South Africa, whose responsibility was to open new operations through joint ventures in other African countries. Within a few years, the company secured a host of licenses across the continent.

In 1992, M-Net launched an analogue service to over 20 countries in Africa. To accommodate the highly diverse operating environments in each country, the company formed joint partnerships, which ensured that local business dynamics and customer needs were appropriately considered.

MultiChoice itself was formed in 1993 when M-Net was split and the subscriber management arm was renamed as MultiChoice. This new company would drive much of the expansion outside South Africa’s borders, targeting the vast untapped markets in Africa.

MultiChoice Africa continued to expand and by the end of 1995, the company had established offices in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia, with franchises launched in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

MultiChoice Africa is now present in 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with millions of subscribers.

Going digital

As the network of operations grew, so did the demands on MultiChoice Africa  technology. In 1995 MultiChoice took the bold step of introducing digital technology to the continent with the launch of the DStv bouquet and in 1996, analogue satellite services to Africa were cancelled. DStv was one of the first broadcasters outside of the United States to launch a satellite platform, and the size and complexity of its satellite network rivalled the best in the world.

Digital satellite broadcasting enabled  MultiChoice to provide a high-quality DStv service to Africa’s most remote regions and deliver a multi-channel offering catering to the diverse cultures and needs of its customer base.

To meet the growing need for a broadcast signal of the highest quality and reliability, MultiChoice Africa launched its direct-to-home digital satellite broadcast offering, using the decoder all subscribers are now familiar with. This technological leap forward made MultiChoice Africa the second digital satellite broadcaster in the world.

The technological innovation at MultiChoice Africa didn’t stop there. The company has continued to revolutionise television viewing, with the launch of the Dual View decoder (2003) and later the PVR (2005). The Dual View decoder was a world-first, and enabled the viewing of two different channels on two different televisions using one satellite link. The PVR allows subscribers to record, rewind, forward and pause broadcasts.

This state of the art technology, powered by a sophisticated back-end hardware and software infrastructure and team, enables MultiChoice to protect its intellectual property whilst ensuring the highest quality and reliability of broadcast.

Powered by satellites

To deliver content into our customers’ hands and homes, MultiChoice Africa uses its vast and growing network of satellites across the African continent.  These satellites are used to bring in channels from around the world and to deliver its DStv service, allowing for wider audience reach and consequently, enhancing the value of channel and language offerings.

MultiChoice is constantly upgrading its technology to ensure that viewers in Africa remain on the cutting edge of broadcast developments. Recently, MultiChoice has developed several new technologies to enable viewers to access enhanced mobile content and the company is also rolling out DTT (digital terrestrial television) services as part of the global move to digital services.

Delivering a world of channels for Africa

As a company born and bred in Africa, MultiChoice Africa places a significant emphasis on providing original African productions and ensuring our viewers receive an unparalleled diversity of content. This was true since the company’s founding and has continued.

The premium DStv bouquet has over 50 channels, with 25 channels on our DStv Family package and 30 on the DStv Compact package, far exceeding the competition.

Through our premium channel suppliers such as M-Net, we have invested heavily in original African productions and training for African directors, cameramen and crew.

M-Net and MultiChoice Africa have created and screened productions such as Big Brother Africa, Idols, Deal or No Deal, The Voice and Edge of Paradise. DStv also carries Africa’s only 24-hour movie channel – Africa Magic, which provides unparalleled African content for our African viewers, and Channel O, a showcase for African music.

MultiChoice has also placed significant focus on ensuring the provision of high quality language content for our French and Portuguese speaking subscribers. Today Angola has the largest and fastest growing subscriber base in Africa (outside of South Africa) and the dedicated Portuguese language channels have proved enormously successful in this rapidly developing .

A commitment to Africa and its people

Customers have always been at the heart of the MultiChoice Africa business. Our customer service centres across the continent provide support to customers, with local partners assisting on more complex issues and our network of installers providing installation support. In line with our commitment to deliver fast, reliable and friendly customer service to our customers, we are rolling out a new subscriber management system that will simplify and change the way we serve our customers as it will improve our speed and stability. Consequently, we would be able to deliver improved services to our customers, who will be empowered to understand when and what to pay for subscriptions.

As an African company, MultiChoice is dedicated to the continent and enriching the lives of the people in Africa. As such MultiChoice believes that long-term investment in community development makes for sustainable business. As locally-owned businesses, our country operations have a significant positive economic impact through direct job creation, our supply chain, tax revenues, technology investments, and the development of local sport and creative industries.

In addition, education is a key focus of our involvement in the communities. Our flagship project, the MultiChoice Resource Centres, launched in 2004 is a powerful learning tool that benefits thousands of learners across the continent. To date, MultiChoice Africa has established more than 2000 MultiChoice Resource Centres across the continent, and is providing the DStv Educational package free to schools.