Home >Companies >News >To boost data consumption, Airtel bets big on live TV app in Africa
Airtel Africa’s customer base stands at 107.1 million, out of which 32.9 million are data users (Photo: Bloomberg)
Airtel Africa’s customer base stands at 107.1 million, out of which 32.9 million are data users (Photo: Bloomberg)

To boost data consumption, Airtel bets big on live TV app in Africa

  • The company launched its live TV app in December in Nigeria and Zambia with more than 5,000 hours of videos free
  • The overall data usage per customer for Airtel in Africa rose 56.3% year-on-year to 1,760 MB per subscriber per month in the nine months ended 31 December

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel’s Africa arm is betting big on its recently launched live TV app to increase data consumption on its mobile networks, which has already seen an uptick thanks to expansion of 4G in the continent and data bundles offered to customers.

The company launched its live TV app in December in Nigeria and Zambia with more than 5,000 hours of videos free of any subscription. Airtel Africa believes that the mobile application will get more popular in the countries in Africa.

“In Africa mobile data is the primary source of data availability unlike the West where they have access to fixed line networks. In Africa, if entertainment has to spread, they need access to seeing content on their mobile data networks," Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, Airtel Africa, said in a post-earnings call with analysts on Tuesday.

“We have Airtel TV app, where we have content, a large part of which a user can see for free. This will encourage viewing and data consumption on our mobile networks," he said.

To be sure, the overall data usage per customer for Airtel in Africa rose 56.3% year-on-year to 1,760 MB per subscriber per month in the nine months ended 31 December. Data revenue accounted for 26.8% of total revenue in the same period, up from 21.7% in the nine month period in 2018.

The Airtel TV app is available in Android as well as iOS and it is a one stop platform for live TV, music videos, news, sports and much more. In addition, Airtel TV also offers live TV on popular channels such as Trace (Africa, Urban, Tropical, Mziki, Sport Stars and Gospel), Bloomberg Television, Gametoon, Bollywood, Fashion Box, God TV, Nautical, Al Jazeera English and Inspiration TV, among others.

Airtel Africa’s customer base stands at 107.1 million, out of which 32.9 million are data users. Its average revenue per user (Arpu) was $2.8 in the December quarter.

Airtel Africa is the holding company for Bharti Airtel’s operations in 14 countries. In June 2019, it raised $750 million through an initial public offering, achieving a market capitalization of around $3.9 billion. The company had a net debt of $3.2 billion as of December end.

Bharti Airtel’s Africa business posted profit after tax of $103 million in the December quarter, down 21% from $133 million a year ago, as tax payments soared.

However, revenue jumped 14.2% to $883 million from $783 million a year ago, largely driven by improved performance across voice, mobile data and mobile money segments.

The revenue increase is significant for the African arm of Bharti Airtel, which battles a bruising tariff war with rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd at home turf. It also comes at a time when Bharti Airtel and other operators are emerging from an adverse court verdict which mandates telecom companies to pay dues totalling over 1 trillion to the Indian government.

The 24 October Supreme Court order that ended the 14-year legal battle between telcos and the government directed Bharti Airtel to cough up 35,586 crore in dues, straining its already precarious financial situation in India.

The telecom company is currently awaiting a Supreme Court hearing on its modification plea filed earlier this month, which requests more time to negotiate a sustainable payment schedule.

To be sure, Bharti Airtel has raised $3 billion through a mix of debt and equity to repay AGR dues.

Bharti Airtel will declare its December quarter earnings for India operations on 4 February.

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