Picture: 123RF/SSILVER
Picture: 123RF/SSILVER

Thebe Investment Corporation, one of SA’s oldest black asset managers, has bought a controlling stake in video streaming company Discover Digital.

Discover Digital, which has offices in Kyalami in Johannesburg and in Mauritius, provides digital media services such as video-on-demand (VOD) and TV content. It also provides business-to-business services such as media software development and IT support and has a fintech division that provides payment technologies, including mobile money and an internet payment gateway and billing system.

The technology company, which has been around since 2014, used to be MTN’s video-on-demand provider but started expanding to other markets when that arrangement with the telecoms giant ended in 2017. The local operation, Discover Digital South Africa, now serves SA and Namibia, while the Mauritius-based Discover Digital International services the rest of Africa. 

The growing popularity in SA of VOD, or video streaming, which is an alternative to traditional satellite pay-TV, has seen a myriad platforms launch locally over the past few years, including Netflix, Showmax and Google Play Movies & TV. Telecoms companies such as Cell C and Vodacom have also launched their own platforms.

Discover Digital wants to capitalise on this but its aspirations are to maximise its opportunities in the rest of Africa. Forecasts by Digital TV Research show that VOD subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to grow from 3.03-million at the end of 2018 to 10.21-million by 2024.

Thebe, which has concluded the purchase of a 51% stake in the local operations of Discover Digital and a 50.1% in the Mauritius unit, said the deal put the investment group a step further towards its ambition of becoming a significant player in the development and distribution of locally produced content.

Thebe, which has more than R6bn in assets under management, operates in sectors such as energy, resources and services. In the services division, its media and telecommunications interests include stakes in Kaya FM, Vodacom and Thebe Connect, a wholesaler and retailer of prepaid products such as airtime and electricity.

“The acquisition of Discover Digital contributes to the fulfillment of Thebe’s ambitions in this sector by being another source of local content and a platform that distributes content to intended audiences supporting Thebe’s current portfolio of media assets,” said Thebe Services CEO Jerry Mabena.

buthelezil@businesslive.co.za