By leveraging our scale and reach, our strategy is to broaden our value proposition and expand our entertainment ecosystem through organic initiatives, strategic partnerships, and select investment opportunities in areas adjacent to video entertainment.
Chair of the board
It has been more than a year since the start of COVID-19, the global pandemic that substantially changed the world as we once knew it. Not only has it impacted our customers, our employees and our business in multiple ways, but it forced us to adapt our behaviour, from interacting with each other to the way we think about the future.
As a board, we are truly grateful for the way our management team and our workforce pulled together. Despite various challenges, they did not waver from our corporate mission to keep our customers entertained and informed. Our top management focused on ensuring the well-being of our employees and colleagues. Our dedicated and talented employees, most of whom are working from home, have done an excellent job in growing our business, servicing our customers and delivering strong financial results.
Their efforts were supported by a board that provided invaluable guidance during these trying times. Their balanced views, wisdom, commitment and constructive input allowed the group to navigate many uncertainties with great success.
At the end of this financial year, Steve Pacak stepped down as a director. On behalf of the board and management, I extend our heartfelt appreciation to Steve for his steady leadership and valuable insights during the early part of our journey as a separately listed company. We welcome our newest independent non-executive director, James du Preez, who was appointed with effect from 1 April 2021. We are also deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our lead independent director, Jabu Mabuza, in June 2021 due to COVID-19-related complications. His invaluable insights and experience will be sorely missed and will remain a lasting part of the MultiChoice story.
Our evolving industry is creating opportunities while also increasing the complexity of strategic and operational decision-making. In an increasingly globalised competitive environment, we continue to support evidence-based regulations that are consistently applied to the industry to allow local businesses to grow and flourish on an equal playing field, especially as maintaining local job creation and supporting local industries are imperative in the countries where we operate.
We provide entertainment services to 20.9m households and, with an average of about five people per household, we reach around 100m people across 50 countries on the African continent.
By leveraging this scale and reach, our strategy is to broaden our value proposition and expand our entertainment ecosystem through organic initiatives, strategic partnerships, and select investment opportunities in areas adjacent to video entertainment. We believe this approach supports our ambition to provide a wider array of entertainment options and value-added services to our customers, while creating value for all our stakeholders.
Our investment in BetKing, a leading digital sports entertainment platform focused on the African continent, is a key example of this approach. Africa currently comprises only around 2% of the estimated US$130bn global sports betting industry and is poised for significant momentum as it begins to play catch up. BetKing is particularly well positioned to capture a large share of this growth opportunity – its proprietary technology allows it to operate at scale and speed, while enabling a customised approach for new markets and adjacent segments. Benefiting from SuperSport’s strong brand and reach across the continent, as well as MCG’s regional presence and acumen, BetKing is expected to expand rapidly across Africa in the coming years, while broadening its digital entertainment portfolio. We are excited to be part of their journey.
We enrich lives through our ecosystem by bringing people together around a shared passion for entertainment, but the impact of our operations extends beyond our direct relationships with our customers. Africa is our heart and soul and we are proud of the positive contribution we make to the countries where we operate. Our various programmes actively address and manage social and economic development, creating much needed employment, contributing to the fiscus and enabling small businesses to grow.
In the past year we provided more than ZAR80m to support our industry at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. This ensured that productions could pay full salaries for impacted cast, crew and creatives across sub-Saharan Africa in the early months of lockdown. We guaranteed the income of freelancers in our SuperSport productions and broadcast technology environment, who could not work due to the suspension of organised sport during this time, and we supported the salaries of travel staff servicing our account for a period of six months.
More recently, we started broadcasting school sport events on a broader scale on our DStv channels and through a dedicated mobile application using new-age technology. The offering provides our younger customers, their parents and other interested parties with the ability to watch our up-and-coming sport talent, especially at a time when spectators are not allowed at matches. This initiative not only speaks to our commitment to society, but also our commitment as Africa’s leading video entertainment platform to keep increasing our investment in local entertainment and sport content.
Through our Innovation Fund, we create opportunities for innovators in the technology, media and film industries, to bring to life ideas that will lead to breakthrough moments for their businesses. As part of this initiative we provide funding as well as mentorship and skills development for start-ups and established small, medium and micro-sized entities (SMMEs) that are majority-owned by black people.
We cannot achieve our goals without the wonderful people who “create the magic” and deliver world-class entertainment products and services to our customers. We continue to proactively create a diverse working environment where people are engaged and inspired, where they can develop and refine their skills and passions, and where they can push the boundaries of innovation. Our Chairman’s Top Leaders Programme is successfully shaping young talent for future leadership positions and our partnership with YES has created 400 job opportunities in addition to the 100 Let’s Play learnerships that we created for young people.
As a board we remain confident in the ability of our executive leadership and our teams across our footprint to deliver. Our group remains well positioned, offering great content and a product geared towards people spending more time at home. Our robust business model, diversified footprint, scale and reach, combined with our strong balance sheet, provides the financial flexibility to navigate the future and pursue our ambitions.
As we continue grappling with the effect of COVID-19 on our daily lives and the many uncertainties that it has triggered, we reiterate our unchanged commitment to bringing our customers the joy of quality entertainment, ‘anytime, anywhere’.
Chair of the board