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Napspers (electronic media)

2007.12.22
> Electronic media
Pay television
The pay-television segment recorded an increase in revenue of 26%, largely from a net increase of 200 000 subscribers to 2,2 million. The switch by analogue subscribers to our digital services continued and 88% of the base now subscribes to a digital service.

Whilst operating profits before amortisation and other gains/losses increased to R3,4 billion, margins were under pressure because of business development costs of R260 million, mostly for the development of mobile television services.

Looking forward, whilst further growth in subscriber numbers is possible, competition is increasing, particularly on the African continent. This is expected, over time, to increase the cost of sport and other programming rights.

Internationally, the launch of commercial mobile television services is still in its infancy. Business models are unclear and will evolve as platforms launch. Whilst risky, the development of these services creates the opportunity for our group to build new mobile broadcast platforms in our existing and new markets, using digital video broadcasting-handheld platforms (DVB-H) and other technologies.

 
South Africa
In South Africa the net pay-television subscriber base grew by 140 000 to end the year at just below 1,4 million households. The subscriber base of the lower-priced Compact bouquet, refreshed with additional channels, grew by 63 000 to 106 000 households. The number of homes with personal video recorders (PVRs) reflected strong growth, with 133 000 active subscribers at year-end.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is issuing subscription broadcasting licences in South Africa. Eighteen licence applications were received by Icasa and it is expected that licences will be issued in the year ahead, resulting in new competitors entering the pay-television market in South Africa.

The trial mobile television broadcast service made progress with technical and content enhancements, which included the broadcast of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament.

 
 
 
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
The sub-Saharan subscriber base grew by 85 000 subscribers for the year to 470 000 households. Growth continues to come mostly from Angola and Nigeria.

We continue to focus on customising content for this market. The total number of African public and commercial free-to-air channels carried on the DStv service increased to 17. Various M-Net and SuperSport channels were expanded into 24-hour channels and customised for this market.

A mobile television broadcast service in Namibia was extended from a trial into a commercial service. Licences are being pursued in a number of other African countries.

The regulatory environment in sub-Saharan Africa remains unpredictable.

 
Mediterranean
In Greece the subscriber base grew by a net 20 000 to 330 000 households. New distribution platforms were deployed with SuperSport events being streamed via the internet; clips of winning goals and sports highlights distributed to mobile phone users and internet protocol television (IPTV) services deployed for the first time.

In Cyprus the contract to administer the analogue base on behalf of a third party was terminated and this resulted in a loss of some 43 000 analogue subscribers. At present there are 15 000 subscribers to the digital service.

The Greek regulatory framework for the digitisation of the terrestrial networks is taking shape and may bring further opportunities, although the timetable remains uncertain.

 
 
 
 
 
Conditional access
The Irdeto content security business had a good year, more than doubling revenues to R775 million. This growth was due to orders from new and existing customers, as well as from the CryptoTec business acquired from Philips in April 2006.

Irdeto continued its participation in mobile television technical trials worldwide as operators prepare for commercial launches. This included supporting initiatives in Africa with DStv Mobile, as well as trials in Hungary, Spain and France. Irdeto has now supplied more than three million security devices to TU Media, the mobile television business in South Korea.

 
Broadband technologies
Globally the broadband market continues to expand and has passed 230 million users. This has created opportunities for delivery of content, applications and other broadband services. Against this backdrop, Entriq continues to invest in broadband technologies and application services for distribution to broadband-connected PCs, mobile devices and televisions.

Entriq supplies pay-media services to first-tier sports leagues including MLB (Major League Basketball), UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Other major clients include NBC Universal (USA) and ProSieben (Germany), MTV radio services on mobile and Channel 5 in the UK.

Although Entriq has gained traction with revenues growing 38%, substantial investment is expected in the short term to consolidate the progress achieved.

 
 
     
Internet
The internet segment reported revenue growth of 17% to R1,1 billion. This excludes the equity-accounted earnings of Tencent and Mail.ru. The group remains focused on emerging markets as it continued to expand its activities in China, Africa, Russia and India.
 
China
Tencent consolidated its position as the leading Chinese internet business and expanded its product offering. Peak concurrent users grew from 19,7 million to 28,5 million over the year, whilst internet value-added services subscribers grew from 13,5 million to 15 million. The Tencent portal, QQ.com, is ranked number one in China by Alexa.com. Peak concurrent users to the leading Tencent-owned Chinese casual games portal increased from 2,7 million to 3,4 million.

Tencent contributed R343 million to the group’s core headline earnings.

 
   
Russia
In December 2006 MIH acquired a 30% stake in Mail.ru, the leading Russian portal. Under the guidance of a strong local management team, Mail.ru has attained a leading position and is currently the most popular Russian website.

Core products are e-mail and instant messaging, which are integrated into local service offerings like online photo and video albums, blogs, scraps and various other social interaction products. Mail.ru derives the major share of its revenues from advertising.

 
Africa
MWEB maintained its lead in South Africa where the slow deregulation of Telkom continues to hamper growth. Subscribers in South Africa total 340 000. MWEB was awarded trial WiMAX frequencies and is rolling out a trial network utilising wireless technologies to deliver broadband services to the home. MWEB hopes to receive permanent WiMAX frequencies later this year.
 
Thailand
Sanook! extended its leading position as a Thai portal during the year and achieved 16 million daily page views. Sanook! offers, amongst others, the most comprehensive local search and web-indexing service in Thailand and achieved 850 000 active QQ users.
 
 
 
India
India is amongst the fastest growing internet markets in the world. An opportunity was identified to develop an internet product focused on the youth community and local search. To tap into this we recently launched an internet service in India, branded ibibo. This is a start-up operation, which we expect to build over the next few years, calling on our internet experience and skills learnt in other markets.
 

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