From the desk of our chief executive officer
As Africa’s leading video entertainment company, we create and secure the rights to exceptional content from across the world. Each story we tell is carefully curated to delight and entertain our audiences. Our heart and soul are invested in the continent, and we consistently strive to entertain, inform and empower African communities.
Chief executive officer
We cater for the evolving needs of our customers and are successfully adapting to a global move towards OTT services
"I AM PARTICULARLY GRATEFUL TO MY TEAM OF HIGHLY CAPABLE SEGMENT CEOs, AND THEIR EXECUTIVE TEAMS, FOR THE STRONG MANAGEMENT OF THEIR BUSINESSES, persistent efforts to deliver results AND VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GROUP."
The past year presented unique and extraordinary challenges. However, we demonstrated resilience and determination in delivering a solid operational and financial performance.
In South Africa, the Springboks' victory at the Rugby World Cup and our viral #StrongerTogether campaign renewed a sense of national pride and unity at an important time for the country. Our business in the Rest of Africa experienced several challenges but delivered festive season growth at an eight-year high on the back of promotional campaigns. With Irdeto, our diversification into the connected transport industry started to bear fruit. We celebrate these and many more achievements, which are shared in the detailed reports that follow.
Each of our business units contributes to the group in different ways. As a more mature operation, the South African business is focused on retaining existing customers, while also driving OTT adoption and growth in the mass market. At the same time, its ambition is to deliver broadly stable profits and cash flows. Cost-saving efforts and digitalisation are essential to ensure the business operates efficiently. In the Rest of Africa, our strategy is to return the business to profitability in the medium term by increasing scale and reducing costs. This should drive continued margin expansion for the group. To protect our income and those of some 400 external clients around the world, our technology business, Irdeto, is focused on delivering critical digital media security solutions and investing in new revenue generating opportunities in a more connected world.
We set challenging targets for ourselves to ensure we create value in the business. In a year that was characterised by external headwinds, I am particularly grateful to my team of highly capable segment CEOs, and their executive teams, for the strong management of their businesses, persistent efforts to deliver results and valuable contributions to the group.
Because of our strategic focus of driving growth and retention, our business in South Africa held up well in a tough consumer environment, adding 0.5m subscribers to total 8.4m. We saw a strong performance by our Compact Plus and Family packages as part of our upgrade and retention strategy and continued strong growth of the Access package. In the Rest of Africa, we expanded our video entertainment services to reach a new milestone of 11m subscribers, primarily through growing the mid and mass markets. Growth was affected by one-off sport events in the prior year, challenging macroeconomic factors and some country-specific issues, which we discuss in more detail in the segmental performance review on page 108.
Irdeto provided ongoing, valuable support to the group and continued pursuing global security leadership, gaining further share in the media security industry. Irdeto's focus during FY20 was on demonstrating cost discipline to deliver a solid financial performance. Our focus on diversifying our markets also yielded positive returns as we made significant progress in our connected transport division, and we explored opportunities in connected health. Irdeto completed the design and testing of new products for major new pay-TV customers in India, and trialled exciting new gaming security products for anti-cheat and mobile gaming. The first vehicles produced with Irdeto security onboard rolled off the assembly lines.
When it comes to our content strategy, we stepped up our investment in local content. This was not only to support the development of African storytelling, but also to cater for our audience's preference of having content in languages and genres that resonate culturally. The increased investment generates employment opportunities and is further supported by some of our CSI initiatives such as the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), a platform for home-grown productions. During the year, we produced 28 local dramas, 13 telenovelas and 17 comedy series. SuperSport continues delivering a truly world-class sport offering and is the largest funder of sport in Africa. We brought the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament and the Rugby World Cup to sport lovers across the continent this year.
More details of our local, international and sporting highlights can be found here.
We cater for the evolving needs of our customers and are successfully adapting to a global move towards OTT services through innovating our product and service offerings. Our OTT services, Showmax and DStv Now, are gaining traction, and we see positive growth in users and viewing activity. Our recently signed distribution agreements with two major international SVOD providers are an important step in our aggregation journey and our strategy to create an entertainment ecosystem for African consumers.
Attracting and retaining talent is a crucial aspect of our strategy. We are passionate about creating a workplace where people are engaged and feel inspired to develop and refine their skills, and to push the boundaries of innovation. During the reporting period, we had to materially adjust our approach to work to accommodate the restrictions placed on our business by the outbreak of COVID-19, but also to ensure we fulfil our role in providing an essential service to the people of Africa. From an early date, we arranged for people to work remotely where possible. For our onsite/essential staff, we introduced several measures to ensure their safety and wellbeing. We are especially grateful to these employees who displayed loyalty and courage in coming to work and serving our business during this trying time.
Our employees and many of our other stakeholders, including suppliers and customers, were severely impacted by the outbreak.Read about our initiatives to assist them during this time in Our response to COVID-19 .
While the full economic and social impact of the pandemic is uncertain at this stage, I approach the future with a positive mind-set, knowing that I have the support of a strong team willing to face any challenge with tenacity and resourcefulness. Despite the current environment, we remain excited about the long-term prospects of video entertainment services on the African continent. We will continue bringing world-class content to millions of customers across Africa in the most cost-effective way. We will consistently strive to live up to our promise of enriching lives and keep our audiences entertained anytime and anywhere.
Chief executive officer
During the year, we produced 28 local dramas, 13 telenovelas and 17 comedy series