Thebe Investment Corporation (Thebe), has taken up controlling stakes of 51% in Discover Digital South Africa and 50.1% in Discover Digital International. Discover Digital, an end-to-end digital media, content and fintech solutions provider, has been in existence since 2014.
Thebe Media’s primary objective is to become a significant player in the development and distribution of locally produced content and key to this strategy is access to various content and distribution platforms; and the provision of requisite mobile telecommunications platforms such as Wi-Fi, LTE/4G through targeted acquisitions or strategic partnerships not only in South Africa, but across the African continent.
“The acquisition of Discover Digital contributes to the fulfilment 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, which include Kaya FM and Thebe Connect,” says Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Services.
Discover Digital South Africa operates in the South African and Namibian markets, while Discover Digital International, which is based in Mauritius, services the rest of the African continent. According to Stephen Watson, founding MD of Discover Digital, the deal positions the company to grow across the continent and become a major player in enabling video on demand and IPTV solutions for broadcasters, telecommunication players and content owners from a distribution and technology perspective.
“It is great to have Thebe on board as a shareholder in the business. For the first time, we have a strategic partner that shares a common vision on the growth of media and particularly the digital transformation journey that is happening in South Africa and on the continent,” says Watson.
According to Watson, the company has aspirations to maximise its opportunities in Africa and would like to leverage its position of having a strong shareholder to demonstrate that Sub Saharan African businesses can develop globally relevant and competitive technology. “We would like to show that this technology can be implemented and sold globally, with the benefit of being developed in a soft currency market, which means that we can be extremely competitive,” says Watson.
Discover Digital was established five years ago and is a B2B player that provides content management solutions and associated digital technologies, plus aggregated transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and linear channels as an over-the-top (OTT) offering to telcos and broadcasters across the continent. The launch of its Digital Entertainment on Demand (DEOD) product provided one of the first platforms on the continent that delivers linear, transactional video-on-demand and subscription video-on-demand services in one platform, providing a foundation for distribution partners to localise with additional content and payment solutions. This model is proving to be popular amongst African telcos and broadcasters alike, who are looking to reduce both the time to market and risk of building their own technologies and licensing content independently.
As with many businesses, Watson says the company is growing its product development capabilities for further market penetration and diversification. In this regard, the company is expanding its billing system, Common Operator Billing Interface (COBI), to support the fintech derivatives through various applications, while also considering taking its content management system (CMS) into different markets through supporting sectors such as education, tourism and corporate communications. Those will be the two major thrusts going forward.
In addition to the content distribution capabilities of Discover Digital, it also holds a 74% stake in EFX Productions, which allows it to offer live streaming and managed broadcast technology services to its customers.
Watson says that the partnership with Thebe is a good fit as the black-owned investment group already has a services portfolio that includes some media assets, including Kaya FM, among others.
“We knew that if we wanted to stay in the broadcast space in South Africa, we would need a credible empowerment partner that could add value to our business, which is exactly what we have found in Thebe,” says Watson.
Thebe Investment Corporation’s Executive, Jerry Mabena, now Chairman of the Board of Directors of Discover Digital (Pty) Ltd says: “We are excited about this acquisition as it allows Thebe an opportunity to balance our portfolio and provides us with a soft focused entry into the African continent which comes with dollar denominated revenues.”