MTN Said to Be in Talks About TV Content for South Africa

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless operator, is in discussions with an Asia-based content provider to offer South Africans access to streaming movies and television shows, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The negotiations will probably result in a deal this year, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private. The two parties have yet to decide a commercial model for the partnership, the person said.

The deal would give MTN’s 25 million mobile customers in South Africa access to movies and TV shows as the company seeks an edge over rivals such as Vodacom Group Ltd. Johannesburg-based MTN and competitors are exploring ways to get tablet and smartphone subscribers to use more higher-margin data services as voice revenue slides.

“While we don’t comment on market speculation, MTN continues to pursue suitable opportunities to expand product offerings outside of traditional voice and to increase its presence in the digital space,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

MTN said yesterday data revenue rose 43 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, representing 17 percent of sales across its 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Vodacom discussed a content deal with Cape Town-based Naspers Ltd.’s Multichoice broadcast unit last year. Vodafone Group Plc, Vodacom’s Newbury, England-based parent, is in talks with Netflix Inc. about access to the streaming service, three people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg this month.

Telkom SA SOC Ltd., Africa’s biggest fixed-line operator, has held talks with media companies Comcast Corp., Bertelsmann SE, Naspers and Netflix about using its network to deliver content, Chief Executive Officer Sipho Maseko said in an interview last year.

MTN shares advanced 0.2 percent to 208.66 rand as of 3:14 p.m. in Johannesburg. The stock has declined 3.9 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 391 billion rand ($36.7 billion).