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Regional Broadcasters

Fresh Capital Bolsters MCA

Pay-TV channel distributor Multi Channels Asia (MCA) and its first external investor, Canada’s Stingray Digital Group, are both looking to accelerate growth in Asia-Pacific, after unveiling a strategic partnership last week.

Stingray has agreed to provide MCA  run by MD Gregg Creevey (pictured– with growth capital over a multi-year term, reportedly in the form of convertible debt that can be exchanged for shares later on.

The Canadian company, which packages together music-oriented channels and services for pay-TV operators, is looking at broad distribution for its portfolio over the next two to three years as well as potential acquisitions in the region, sourced primarily via MCA.

Stingray has grown rapidly by buying multiple assets since launching eight years ago, at home and increasingly abroad, which has become the main focus for growth.

“Currently, Stingray’s international revenues represent 40% of total revenue,” says president and CEO Eric Boyko, one of the company’s co-founders

“By expanding our reach in the Asia-Pacific region, we expect that 60-70% of sales will come from international sales.”

Stingray, initially funded by private equity, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in June, raising C$140 million (US$113 million).

Choice and competition

Strategically, both companies are aligned in helping pay-TV operators offset online competition with niche offerings, especially for subs at the premium end of the market, notes MCA’s MD Gregg Creevey.

Creevey is also exploring opportunities in OTT, where there is increasing innovation in how content is presented to consumers.

“Our core strategy at MCA hasn’t changed – what this is doing is amplifying that,” he tells Media Business Asia.

“We’ve been big believers since we created the company that there is a market, increasingly so, for well-crafted curated consumer channels and content propositions that are deliberately not dependent on traditional generic big-brand experiences,” he continues.

“We know that people are consuming more content than ever, in some respects in the online world. We think we can curate around some of those experiences and bring them back into the more traditional pay-TV ecosystem.”

Longer-term, tying up with Stringray allows MCA to move on more opportunities while speeding up development, potentially towards a market listing of its own, Creevey says.

“If we can grow, expand, and seize some opportunities quickly, there’s no reason why we couldn’t replicate what Stingray has done in Canada and IPO in the future here in Asia,” he says.

Following its capital infusion, MCA’s main priorities over the next six months will be developing an on-ground presence for Stingray alongside a major push for Outdoor Channel, a specialist sports offering currently present in six million Asian homes that MCA operates under license.

At the same time, Creevey is also looking to broaden MCA’s channel repertoire, potentially including a millennial-oriented channel, while helping launch factual offering Love Nature in the region after inking a deal with its owner, Blue Ant Media, in September.

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