The collapse of GTV, football and what it means to the African entrepreneur
Football in Africa is a passion shared from Morocco to South Africa. The recent Africa Cup in Ghana was probably one of the most watched events in the continent’s history. The British Primier League is also a favorite and you can find the games on tv in almost any African town or village. When GTV announced their satellite service football fans celebrated across the continent. So did a lot of African entrepreneurs who saw the opportunity to meet demand with GTV’s offer of premiership games.
It was said that GTV as a business depended on two ideas – football and price. Capturing Premier League rights, in a $30 million, three-year deal was the foundation the company aimed to build on. But despite some 700 million dollars in investment, GTV pulled the plug and television screens across the continent lost connection. The company’s board explained, “The current financial and global crisis has severely interrupted the company’s ability to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.” And just like that, the company’s rush to expand across Africa comes to a stand still. This is hard to believe when the company had predicted a break even towards the end of 2009.
But the real problem isn’t with the big investor but with the small one. When GTV closes its doors it leaves out small scale entrepreneurs dotted across the continent. All of the hopeful business men and woman that made the ‘GTV Investment.’ These entrepreneurs put their money in a dish, a GTV decoder, smart card and the usually high installation costs. Not to mention the subscription fees that sometimes needed to be paid 12 months in advance. It wasn’t a surprise to learn the football games were only available as part of the most expensive package. What happens to these investments now?
Elias Biryabarema writes in The Monitor, “Football fans of the English Premier League will be the most disappointed after GTV, British-based pay satellite television company succumbed to the global financial turmoil, and with immediate effect switched off its signal worldwide. 45 permanent employees of the GTV Uganda lost their jobs instantly, more than 300 dealers and business partners, 7,000 subscribers are affected and tens of thousands of English Premiership viewers will miss their favorite weekend sit-outs.”
Its a shame, but I think both the fans and the entrepreneurs miss out on this one.
GTV PRESS STATEMENT ON LIQUIDATION
LONDON – 30 January 2009 – Gateway Broadcast Services announced today that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to liquidate the Company.
The current financial and global crisis has severely interrupted the company’s ability to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.
The company has worked extensively with external advisors and all internal resources to investigate, evaluate and analyze strategic alternatives for the Company to further continue to operate. In determining to approve the Company’s plan of Liquidation, the board and management carefully reviewed the advice and findings.
Gateway Broadcast Services, suppliers of the GTV service to subscribers across Africa has over the last 2 years invested a total of US$200 million and created jobs and competition in the 22 markets. The economic crisis that has emerged globally over the last few months has caused excessive demands on the business.
With immediate effect the service will be withdrawn.
“Increased instability in global markets interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable timescale and have left us no choice but to cease operations,” said a company spokesman.
“We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff, all of who have believed in GTV and the revolution in pay TV it had created. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going but we are all the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis.”Thank you.