Digicel buys SportsMax
Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter
Digicel has acquired majority ownership of International Media Content Limited, the parent company of regional sports broadcasting company, SportsMax, and North American broadcaster CEEN-TV.
The acquisition price was not disclosed.
Under the terms of the deal, the founder and a number of the lead principals will continue to have an ownership stake in the media company and be involved in its day-to-day operation. SportsMax is currently run by Oliver McIntosh.
"It's going to be a revolutionary change for us within the market," the SportsMax CEO told the Financial Gleaner.
The company plans to roll out a series of new applications to allow consumers to view sports content on the go, he said.
"What I think you can expect coming very soon is the various sport applications that will be available on the Digicel network. We will probably launch our first one in the next couple of weeks to probably in the middle of October, and then you will see a series of them coming right behind that," McIntosh said.
The company's entire staff is also to be retained with plans to grow the cadre as the company expands.
"We employ 70 persons and that will remain. The reality of the situation is because of what we will be working on, the size of the company will likely grow. We are looking to take on more people as we develop our expanded strategy," the CEO said.
McIntosh's take on the deal is that SportsMax has been handed an opportunity to boost its content growth and geographic reach through Digicel's large capital base.
"We both have things to contribute from our own industries. From our own perspective our content is in 25 countries. Digicel has multiple platforms that SportsMax can immediately utilise, whether for broadcast via broadband or for marketing and distribution via their retail network (and) putting content unto mobile platform," he said
SportsMax now has 67 shareholders, McIntosh said, all of which are now minority owners. He did not disclose the stake bought by Digicel.
The move to acquire SportsMax comes on the heels of Digicel's entry into the cable TV market with recent acquisitions including Jamaica's Telstar Cable Limited, as well as acquisitions in Anguilla, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The company said that in April this year it acquired WIV Cable TV in the Turks and Caicos Islands and its sister company, TCT, which offers broadband services.
In February, it acquired SAT Telecommunications which provides a range of TV, telephony and broadband Internet services to residential and business customers in Dominica.
Digicel acquired Caribbean Cable Communications Holding Ltd, a cable TV and Internet service provider in Anguilla, Nevis and Montserrat in November 2013.
Last week as the Telstar deal closed, Digicel Jamaica CEO Barry O'Brien signalled that the telecoms would be going after new content service under plans to build out a national cable TV network.
If its national plans are approved by the Broadcasting Commission, Digicel will become a serious competitor to Flow Jamaica, which is currently the only national cable provider.
Digicel Group said it has also been investing heavily in greenfield fibre buildouts, having broken ground on next-generation fibre networks in Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad.
SportsMax is ranked as the number-one viewed sports channel in the region. The channel is currently available in 23 markets across the Caribbean and is the Caribbean's first and only indigenous 24-hour dedicated sports cable channel, Digicel said in its press release announcing the takeover on Thursday that also quoted the chairman of IMC and SportsMax, Patrick Rousseau.
IMC has been responsible for the broadcast of major international events, including the FIFA World Cup tournaments since 2006 and the 2012 London Olympics, the release said.
The station's inventory includes the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, West Indies cricket, the Indian Premier League and the IAAF Grand Prix.
"SportsMax represents the perfect blend of sports entertainment and infotainment with a Caribbean flavour," said Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves.