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Naspers explores MTN content deal; MTN in talks to buy MultiChoice Africa

In this monthly Africa and Middle East video spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different African and Middle Eastern markets.

TOP NEWS

* South Africa's Naspers Ltd. is discussing a potential content agreement with MTN Group Ltd., Reuters reported May 22. If an agreement takes place between the two parties, MTN subscribers would be able to stream live content from their mobile phones.

* South Africa's MTN Group is in talks to buy MultiChoice Africa from Naspers, MyBroadband reported May 18, citing sources. The mobile operator has begun discussing plans to provide TV content on smartphones through the acquisition, sources said.

OTHER NEWS

* Iflix Arabia, a joint venture between Zain Group and Malaysian subscription video-on-demand service iflix, launched an over-the-top TV service in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan and Sudan, Digital TV Europe reported May 22. The joint venture allows existing Zain customers to have unlimited access to iflix's content at a certain period.

* Namibian Broadcasting Corp. launched its sports channel nbc6, which will air Kwesé Free Sports' programs, according to a May 16 news release. The launch of the new channels comes after the African broadcasting company acquired rights to the Econet Media Ltd. unit's programs, allowing the broadcaster to provide free-to-air coverage of sports events, such as Premier League, the NBA, the NFL, Brazil Serie A and Copa Del Rey. The Namibian company also rolled out a 24-hour music channel, which will be aired on nbc5.

* Vodafone Group Plc said May 15 that it struck a deal to transfer an indirect stake of 35% in Kenyan operator Safaricom Ltd., worth about €2.36 billion, to its South African unit Vodacom Group Ltd. Under the agreement's terms, Vodafone unit Vodafone International Holdings BV will transfer the stake in exchange for 226.8 million new ordinary shares in Vodacom.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. is spending about $10 million to build modern production studios in Kenya, Telecompaper reported May 15. BBC Editor Solomon Mugera said that the broadcasting company will collaborate with local broadcasters and indie companies for the development of local and regional content. The new studio is also expected to provide about 200 jobs to Kenyans.

* Airtel Nigeria and Ericsson AB teamed up for the creation of OTT platform Nuvu, which is expected to offer local and international shows, NexTV News Africa reported May 15. At the moment, the service is only available in Android, but plans for an iOS app have been announced.

* South African wireless application service provider STS rolled out a new subscription video-on-demand service JustFlicks, Advanced Television reported May 15. The OTT platform offers about 1,000 hours of content and plans to add new titles each month.

* Twitter Inc. is looking to seal carriage deals in the Middle East to increase the social media company's advertising revenues through the provision of added live content, UAE's The National reported May 6. Peter Greenberger, Twitter's global director for news, said that the company had been in talks with a number of companies in the region.

* MTN South Africa has shut down its VOD service MTN VU due to high service costs, Rapid TV News reported May 4. To make up for the inconvenience, customers affected would have three months of subscription to Naspers' ShowMax VOD service, which will be shouldered by the company.

* OTT newcomer Discover Digital rolled out its VOD service DEOD Sports Network in South Africa, NexTV News Africa reported May 4. The service offers access to five internet sports TV channels.

* Iflix rolled out its service across the Middle East and North Africa, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan, Advanced Television reported April 27. Consumers in the region can begin signing up for the 30-day trial.