BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Multichoice is adding fire to its response against attacks by platforms like Netflix. Its DSTV product has been facing fierce competition and in its response, the Naspers affiliated entertainment company developed Showmax. It seems Showmax is not enough to tame the lions. Multichoice has now acquired Namola the safety and emergency response app. Why would an entertainment company acquire a safety and emergency app?

Judging by the announcement at its recent product launch, Multichoice is moving from just being an entertainment company. Multichoice is becoming a platform company.This type of company creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers.

Platforms connect two or more sides of a market—buyers and sellers, renters and property owners, users and application developers, and so on. In the past, we’ve associated this word with innovation platforms, where companies build a core technology and others participate in that ecosystem. The big growth in platforms today is in what we call transaction platforms, where interactions or transactions between sides of a market take place on a platform, such as Amazon, eBay, Uber, or Tencent (WeChat). Many companies are increasingly operating as both innovation platforms and transaction platforms, recognizing that they need to excel in both to maximize the value of their ecosystem. Multichoice seems to be implementing this version of the platform business model.

Namola app was founded by former Mxit executive, Pieter Matthieu. Although Mxit is no longer, its former executives have created innovative companies. Interestingly, Mxit was let go by Multichoice parent company, Naspers. Namola App offers SOS functionality, with the option to select the type of emergency, which then in turn dispatches the most appropriate medical or security service to the geo-location of the user. The app enables access to crime, fire, accident, medical, and sensitive emergency services.

Namola is just one of the few app companies that will be added to the Mutlchoice platform. We can expect more companies that are funded by Naspers ventures to also form part of this platform. “Namola is part of our strategy to expand our ecosystem beyond entertainment and to offer a suite of consumer services that meet the needs of our customers. Our aim is to provide value to our customers through services that address their challenges and enrich their lives,” said Nyiko Shiburi, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa. Shiburi made the announcement at the company’s annual media showcase in Johannesburg. The theme for this year’s event was A World of More, speaking to how MultiChoice is evolving its offering to deliver value to its customers, beyond video entertainment. Multichoice is moving beyond entertainment and now spreading its wings toward offering an integrated digital ecosystem where customers can access a suite of services that meet their needs.

It will be interesting to observe how this will assist Multichoice in dealing with competition from entertainment streaming entities. Multichoice seems to be following the Apple strategy. In addition to acquiring Namola, the company has also introduced a device from which consumers will watch the Multichoice content. Apple has hardware and software in its arsenal. Multichoice is also in the process of providing hardware and software. Apple allows its customers to pay a single price for all its services. MultiChoice has put together a pricing structure that allows consumers to get a single service or all its services for a single price. For now, this seems like a bulletproof strategy against the competition. The next challenge for Multichoice is consumer adoption of its services which remains to be seen.