Making Multichoice Botswana the only choice

Baitshepi Sekgweng
IN THE HOT SEAT: Stephanie Pillay

As the Managing Director (MD) of Multichoice Botswana, Stephanie Pillay has made it her mission to deliver the best entertainment, both local and international, into living rooms across the country.

Born in South Africa, Pretoria, the 40-year-old boasts a B Com (Honours) in Statistics; she also boasts an impressive CV, having worked for Absa Bank as well as Multichoice Africa as Regional Head Mah CX & Care Southern Markets before assuming her current role in BW in August 2022.

Let’s tune in and find out more…

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What makes Stephanie Pillay tick?

I’m someone who is very passionate about people.

People are really the heart of my passion because that’s where I like to focus my energy, be it customers or my employees or organisations we work with.

As MD, what does your day-to-day role involve?

I lead a very exciting team of individuals who have an amazing job of being Africa’s story-teller.

So ultimately I believe we have the best entertainment platform globally.

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We have fun every day and our customers are at the heart of what we do.

I have a fantastic executive team that supports me which makes my job fun and easier and interesting in serving our customers.

How is Multichoice Botswana doing in the market?

Macroeconomics is something that affects every business globally, it does not affect us in isolation.

We are very fortune in Botswana to have a strong currency.

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It’s not easy at all, it’s tough; I don’t think there is any organisation that’s operating just fine post Covid-19 but the team is working hard such that we achieve success by keeping our customers happy.

When you joined Multichoice Botswana, what was your roadmap?

Our objectives are clear: we want to be in every household and bring entertainment in every home.

So, my aim was to bring DSTV back to our consumers’ home and it was also around how we highlight the local creative industry.

The creative industry in Botswana is one of the best that we have in the continent, so we have been deliberate on how we service the right opportunities in order to tell Botswana stories and put faces on screens which our customers will resonate well with.

Why do you rate the local creative industry so highly?

I’m very proud of the activities we have been able to introduce over the past months.

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If you look at Rachel Tlagae’s ‘My Botswana Plate’ and ‘Botswana’s Top 5’ with Mdu Tha Party, they are good initiatives aimed at driving local content in Botswana.

The local creative industry is fantastic: music is really incredible with the likes of Mpho Sebina and Han C.

It’s top talent so our aim is to see how we create a platform for those recognised in Botswana but also create opportunities for new young creatives to be showcased through Africa.

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As it stands, Multichoice Botswana is the only ‘paid for’ television available locally, how is that working for you?

Botswana is an important market to us, that’s why we invest in it.

This organisation is a tax payer and gives back to the market it operates in.

I don’t hire employees but families, so the contribution for this organisation is huge in Botswana market.

Why should Batswana keep up with Multichoice Botswana?

We are the leading entertainment provider globally; basically we are a one stop shop.

From sports, news, movies, telenovelas to content for kids, we offer quite a variety for our clients.

We are Africa’s story teller but you cannot remove the impact that we have out there.

We take pride in telling stories of Africa.

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So it excites me when opportunities arise to take local stories and faces to the screen.

Multichoice Talent Factory (MTF) is an incredible Corporate Social Responsibility activity that we run.

Every year, we send two delegates from Botswana to the MTF academy in Zambia to learn everything about being in the creative industry which is fully paid for by us.

Despite this, it’s still rare to find local content on DSTV – are Batswana not submitting or is their material not up to standards?

It’s not like Batswana are not submitting or submitting below par content.

Content is placed based on the spaces available on the channel.

Unfortunately we work with economies of scale, for example Zambia has a larger population so you will find more content from there but that doesn’t mean we won’t have content from Botswana.

It’s just the way business of television works is that the space created is for the viewers in terms of population.

Further, as Botswana we are not the ones to make decision with regards to the content going into the screen, that is done at group level at Multichoice Africa.

How are you empowering local creatives?

We had workshops and invited teams that deal with scripting and production.

They spoke to local production companies on how to create stories which resonates with the rest of Africa because our market is the whole continent.

Even last year we made calls for three local movies which will be screened on Mzansi Bioskop this year.

There have been complaints of repeated content being aired on DSTV – if my girlfriend watches one more rerun of ‘90 Day fiancé’ I think I’ll scream! What can you say to that?

As Multichoice Botswana we are not broadcasters, we enable Batswana to subscribe for content broadcast by Multichoice Africa.

Within DSTV there are channels who decide on how many times they repeat their content.

Remember people don’t watch television at the same time so we don’t have any decision on repetition of content from our content providers.

But of course there is new content almost every month that’s why there are even new channels introduced but I can’t dispute that there are repeats.

Multichoice Botswana recently announced a price increase for their packages effective 1st April – what determines these increases?

I think for me it’s to look at how we are running the business.

So ‘price increases’ are just how businesses function.

What is incredibly important is that the price is small at an average of 2.9 percent this year.

We have done our level best to make the increase as small as possible.

Prices increase because of content.

If you look at this year we have major events lined up such as Paris Olympics, 2024 Euro Championships, which all have to be purchased at Multichoice Africa level.

The company has been operating in Botswana for 32 years now – what major highlights you can pinpoint in that time?

Being able to operate for those years stand out, looking at how we have grown over the years and becoming the entertainment giant we are.

So I’m proud of the consistency of bringing Africa’s loved stories to our clients.

Further we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Government of Botswana in helping improving the local creative industry, that is a huge deal for us because it’s all about imparting knowledge and skills.

So what are the big challenges you face?

The world is changing and any issue we face as a team is about leveraging on it as an opportunity.

Someone might say streaming platforms are a challenge to us but that’s not how I see it.

I just know that we are dealing with consumers who want a lot of content which is consumed differently, so I see those as add ons.

So for me it’s all about how we give our customers the best we can.

What are the requirements for a channel to list on DSTV?

Technical requirements I can’t speak to but the channel has to perform and be able to maintain certain standards as well as having a significant flow of fresh content.

How do you deal with issues of piracy?

I lose sleep about that!

There’s quite a lot of piracy in Botswana with a lot of content which is not licensed consumed.

Unlicensed content doesn’t give back to the economy.

Customer education is key in driving the right message and sensitizing customers on which content is licensed.

Many Batswana are known to buy South African DSTV Decoders and use them locally, your thoughts on this?

It’s consumer behaviour and potentially difficult to manage because those are opened up and registered in South Africa.

I think what is important is to try and drive sales locally and show our clients the importance of buying their decoders in Botswana because the more we increase our subscriber base the more it validates the fact that Batswana wants to watch their own television and use DSTV products available in their market.

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