With Pay TV operators scrambling for the largest pie in the Nigerian market, Africa’s largest economy, the past weeks have seen a series of play by the different business owners to boost viewership and gain more customers. Just recently, StarTimes has announced that viewers can now pay per view, to retain its existing customers.
For many years, South Africa’s MultiChoice enjoyed the monopoly system and had no competitor. Hence, it made its policies stiff and as you would expect, only the bourgeoise could afford to have a dish installed. However, things took a new turn when MultiChoice from China stormed the country and launched fantastic packages in 2010. It targeted the mass who couldn’t afford to spare an arm and a leg to get a DSTV dish installed. As fate would have it, MulitChoice implemented a new strategy by launching GOTV which also targeted the mass. This strategy propelled the Pay TV operator to return back as the one with the larger subscriber base in Nigeria.
Competition between the two players was at bay until mid-September when Telcomsat Limited, owner of TSV announced its triumphant entry into the Nigerian market, making the situation very uncomfortable for DSTV and StarTimes. Telcomsat Limited promised to offer a free WiFi with decoders, the much-loved broadcast of EPL games, the long-awaited Pay-As-You-View subscription, pause subscription, Video-call and other exciting channels. Who wouldn’t jump as such offers?
As you would expect, this announcement didn’t go well with the other contenders. While DSTV and StarTimes have been inventing measures to retain existing customers, Nigerians have condemned MultiChoice, whose company has exploited the country for too long. Imaging paying exorbitant subscription fees just to enjoy the EPL matches in a country where an intermittent interrupted power supply is the norm. Unfortunately, events did not unfold as planned when the much-hyped TSTV dashed the hopes of many Nigerians after the much-anticipated launch failed on October 1.
While GOTV, a subsidiary of DSTV has added four channels for free to loyal subscribers for one month, StarTimes has gone ahead to offer more freebies. This time, it offered a Pay Per Day service and has in fact been trending with the hashtag , #StarTimesPaybyday. It tweeted:
‘NIGERIA: What if we told you that you can now pay per day, per week & amp; per month? #StarTimesPaybyday
‘Nigeria: It gets better. You can now watch as much as 30 channels with N60 ONLY. Nigeria: Entertainment just got subsidized. Enjoy over 40 TV channels with just N300 a week! Nigeria: Now, you can pay only for the day bae is visiting. Enjoy all StarTimes channels for only N60 per day #StarTimesPaybyday
These announcements by Startimes have triggered positive reactions from agitated Nigerians who can’t for this service to commence. However, StarTimes is yet to release an official statement.
Similar to what happened in the telecoms industry, Globacom came as a saviour to redeem many Nigerians from the pay-per-minute tariff. This was a strategy which Globacom used in buying the hearts of many Nigerians. The pay-per-view offer had been in operation in Uganda and Zambia, yet StarTimes continued to exploit Nigeria.
As the events continue to unfold in the scramble for subscribers, it may end with each of them offering a ‘unity-tariff’.