Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), a Time Warner Company, delivers a number of news and entertainment pay television brands to African audiences through partnerships with MultiChoice (DStv) and On Digital Media’s (ODM) TopTV. Its channels are also available on some smaller platforms across Africa.

Alan Musa, VP and GM, Pan Middle East and Africa (MEA) for Turner Broadcasting System, says that while Turner doesn’t have a physical presence in Africa, instead relying on partners to promote its business interests here, the continent is an increasingly important market for his company. The MEA region is currently managed from London, while CNN runs its own bureaus in a number of African cities, including Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Cairo.

Musa describes CNN and the Cartoon Network as the group’s two flagship channels on the continent [CNN’s critics will enjoy the irony, I’m sure]. The Cartoon Network is the kid’s brand that has been broadcast into the continent for over 10 years now, thanks to MultiChoice, which also carries Boomerang, the group’s classic cartoon network. Turner also owns TCM (Turner Classic Movies). CNN is its global news channel.

Turner Broadcasting Europe recently bought out Millennium Media Group (MMG), which owns Star!, Showtime and Silver, all broadcast on TopTV.

Musa says the group has a strong business in Africa, with growth primarily tied to that of MultiChoice, which operates in 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean islands. MultiChoice has more than five million pay-TV subscribers across the Africa (of which 3.5 million are in South Africa).

With more and more African economies showing positive GDP growth, Musa expects demand for pay-TV services to surge. Bloomberg recently reported that MultiChoice is rolling out low-price pay-TV packages to build scale in African markets. Subscriptions start at around US$7 a month, with decoders costing US$50.

Musa says growth in digital terrestrial television (DTT) across the continent and advancements in mobile TV are both positive indicators for market growth.

The SA market he describes as being well-developed and sophisticated and, apart from its channel brands, Turner also has substantial licensing and merchandising, as well as a live show and events, business here.

Currently TBS is introducing LazyTown, a block of preschool kids programming, to Boomerang. Musa says TBS’s investment in LazyTown shows the group’s growing ambition in the preschool space, and opens opportunities for content companies to create further material for this audience.

Originally published on Marketing & Media | South Africa – click to see more comments.


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