By Princewill Ekwujuru
SUBSCRIBERS’ quest for improved service delivery, prices and content may have forced pay-TV operators, both existing and the new entrants, to begin a downward review of their subscription and decoder prices.
Nigerian consumers of the pay-TV services are also said to be looking at what the service providers are doing in other African markets where one of the operators reduced subscription and decoder prices.
As these issues become more contentious, pay-TV operators are now responding with new contents and audio visual quality, while also including premium channels into their low priced bouquets to retain subscribers who may want to switch allegiance.
The call for pay-as-you-go regime by subscribers has also led to operators adopting or thinking of toeing the option, as consumers also clamour for more free to air services.
There are several pay-TV operators in the market which include Multichoice Nigeria, StarTimes, Consat and MyTV and the new entrants, Telecom Satellite TV (TSTV) and Kwese Tv that launched recently into the market. Others which include HITV, Daarsat, FSTV have been run out of business by competition.
Subscription rates and decoder prices
However, the recent entrance of new competitors into the market has not only led to new insights, but has heightened quest for consumers’ patronage, prompting reduction in subscription rates and decoder prices.
Multichoice Nigeria, owners of the Digital System for Television, DSTV, leads the pay-TV market in Nigeria, but StarTimes Nigeria, also operating the DTH module, appears set for a long and hut chase for more share of the market in close to its eight years of operation in Nigeria.
Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M) findings show that subscription rate, decoder price, content and picture quality are all very important to subscribers.
Consequently, market information reveal that the pay-TV operators have segmented the market with price differentiation for their bouquets. For example, Multichoice has five bouquets of Access, Family, Compact, Compact Plus and Premium which are subscribed for at N1,900, N3,800, N6,300, N9,900 and N14,700 respectively.
Also StarTimes has four bouquets of Nova, Basic, Classic and Unique subscribed for N600, N1, 200, N2,400 and N4,800 respectively.
Consat bouquets are subscribed for between N1,000 and N5,000 for full bouquet.
However, a new dynamics has just been introduced into the market by the new entrants in the form of pay-as-you-watch, altering the bouquet segmentation model.
Recently launched TSTV, operates the pay-as-you-watch model with daily subscription at N200, N500 for three days subscription, N750 for weekly subscription, N1,000 for 10 days, N1,500 for two weeks and N3,000 for monthly subscription.
Similarly, another new entrant, Kwese, collects N990 for three days subscription, N1,850 for one week subscription and N6, 275 for monthly subscribers.
It is believed that the new competitors are targeting low income subscribers. But other leading competitors are said to be warming up for a response to the pay-as-you-go challenge.
For decoders, Multichoice sells explora1 and explora2 for N33,500 and N38,300 respectively while the Standard Definition, SD decoder (small decoder) is sold for N10,000. StarTimes run on two decoders, SD and High Definition, HD combo which sells for N6,600 and N7,600 respectively.
TSTV sells its decoder for N5,000, while Kwese sells for N10,960.
Meanwhile, some subscribers told C&M that Multichoice is ahead of other operators on different levels of upgrade and expansion in terms of decoder units. The subscribers appeared happy that Multichoice decoders are XtraView enabled and can be paired with selected XtraView compatible decoders (excluding the SD Personal Video Recorder, PVR, allowing a cost effective and flexible option for more than one independent viewing environment, but this is not achievable with other operators.
They also noted that Multichoice decoders are notches higher, because their decoders can record programmes. But the subscribers also believe others including the new entrants, will soon be able to deliver decoders that offer the same values.
A subscriber, Adeola Adeoti, said he does not think Multichoice and other operators are on the same level, “because the company (Multichoice) has been in operation years before the coming of StarTimes, not to talk of others just entering the market. For this reason, they may not measure up in terms decoder delivery for now, and that is why the company should not be compared with others presently.
“Multichoice is ahead of them, they have to operate for some years before we can know if they are ready for this market.”
Another subscriber, Onyema Ugwu, who also uses StarTimes and has bought the recently launched Kwese, said they all have quality products, but stated that premiership has been the advantage of Multichoice, even though other competitors have some football matches to show.
He went on to say that the purchase of Kwese was because of the free to air soccer channels and its flexible subscription plan.
Michael Igbalode, like Adeoti, said he uses the latest entrant, Kwese, because of its simplified payment system. “If I am cash trapped I will go for the N990 or N1,800 bouquet, since it will give me the same number of channels for the numbers of days my subscription will last.
For DSTV I subscribe for the N3, 800 bouquet, for StarTimes I go for the N2,400 bouquet. What I try to do is not spend more than N10,000 in a month. I have to stream line my spending. With this style, I watch all what I want.
“In price comparison DSTV has been able to provide alternatives to subscribers by breaking down its product prices.”
George Abedor, Managing Director of Great Sound Solutions, an audio visual personnel who said he is into satellite distribution, explained that satellite communication, depends on the broadband width at which the operators signals are coming in from, and that will tell the quality of the HD signals they are receiving, if it is full HD or not.
He stated: “Some of the decoders have the potential to give a full HD signal and some may not be able to give it. This depends on the decoder the company is selling. Some of these decoders also have the facility to record programmes, like the PVR services.
“Right now I know DSTV is on explora2 which is good enough with the digital technology moving round the world now. The edge they have is because they have been on ground all these while. I think I appreciate the fact that Kwese TV is coming in to give them a chase for their money going by the background of Kwese TV owners.
“They are already grounded in the communication technology business long before now. Since we are looking at digital broadcasting which Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC has been hammering on.
“The little research I did with Kwese TV, it has about five free broadcast even when your subscription has expired, may be this will force others to give subscribers additional free-to- air, FTA, digital broadcast services with local content and one or two foreign programmes. StarTimes probably has one or two FTAs.”
An agent who has his business in Ikeja who pleaded anonymity, said he is happy competition is coming into the market, but noted that DSTV’s price remains competitive looking at their offerings.
He stated: “Even though others are offering their premium products for low prices, this is just to gain ground in the market. They will soon increase their subscription prices when they settle down.
“Football, Nollywood and some other programmes, are baits deployed by Multichoice that is why they are included in the low price bouquets.”
He further said: “StarTimes unknowingly to them has been operating the Pay-as-you-watch model, may be they did not want to go to market with that yet. Look at their NOVA”
On pay-as-you-watch, Managing Director of StarTimes, Justin Zhang, said: “When you talk of pay-as-you-watch, we may be construing it to mean pay-per-day. If you want to watch a match today you can pay for one day, or you pay for one week or pay for month for your family. I think this is another definition for pay-as-you-go. You can pay-per-day instead of paying per month. We can then say that pay-per-day is the same as pay-as-you-go as misconstrued? We have plans. I cannot give you the details. It is not something I can share with the public now.”
“Also concerning all the sports content like Bundesliga, Seria A, La liga, StarTimes is ready to share more sports contents on Bundesliga, Seria A and League 1. I think with the competition there will be more changes to your content in future.”
Speaking on subscription rate, Managing Director of Multichoice, John Ugbe said: “We try to minimise the impact. In Nigeria, we have been very fortunate we have not had to subject another price increase.”
General Manager, Kwese TV, Elizabeth Amkpa said:
“Our business is premised on the concept of TV anywhere and everywhere. This means we have made our premium content easily accessible across a number of platforms. Kwese is at the forefront of pioneering ground-breaking payment options that offer flexibility and convenience in the industry.
The Kwese TV entry price is extremely affordable. For N10 960, a new subscriber receives a satellite dish, decoder with one month free subscription to the full Kwese TV entertainment and sports bouquet, as well as installation. This means our new subscribers don’t need to worry about paying an extra fee for installation. Once a new subscriber pays for the complete Kwese TV kit, we dispatch an installer, who we call a Technite, to install the satellite dish and decoder. This is one of the measures we have put in place to ensure quality installations and minimize signal interruption”, said Amkpa.
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