Vodacom Seeks Partnership With Naspers on Sharing Video Content

Vodacom Group Ltd., the African unit of U.K. wireless carrier Vodafone Group Plc, is exploring a partnership with media and TV company Naspers Ltd. to deliver video content onto mobile devices.

Vodacom is considering charging a fixed price to download a movie onto a customer’s smartphone or tablet device rather than billing per megabyte, Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview on Monday. The company will also sell its own content, he said.

“That’s where we’ll evolve,” Joosub said in the interview at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg. Customers who want to download films or other content from the DSTV unit of Cape Town-based Naspers would be able to do so through Vodacom’s network, he said.

Vodacom, 65 percent owned by Newbury, England-based Vodafone, is expanding its services in sub-Saharan Africa to offset falling revenue in South Africa. Naspers, the continent’s largest company, provides satellite TV in 50 sub-Saharan African countries through DSTV, making the company the biggest provider of pay-TV in the region.

Vodacom full-year earnings declined as increased competition and regulatory changes weighed on call prices, the company said earlier on Monday. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania were affected by tougher price competition, while the company has further operations in Mozambique and Lesotho.

The shares pared declines after Joosub’s comments on Naspers. They traded 0.4 percent lower at 143.48 rand as of 3:37 p.m. in Johannesburg, having earlier dropped 1.5 percent.

“It’s been a tough year, probably one of the most challenging we’ve ever faced,” Joosub said on a conference call with reporters.

Vodacom’s customer numbers rose 7.2 percent in the year through March to 61.6 million.

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