April 27, 2017

Struggle for subscribers divide Multichoice, StarTimes along strategy line

Struggle for subscribers divide Multichoice, StarTimes along  strategy line

By Princewill Ekwujuru

MULTICHOICE and StarTimes, two major pay-TV providers in the country have thrown up various marketing stunts to retain and recruit prospective subscribers. The strategies employed by Multichoice was the DSTV Thank You programme to appreciation its subscribers across the rest of Africa – excluding South Africa.

The programme is designed for Multichoice subscribers to get access to additional TV channels for free, if they remained subscribed for at least three months. Among the channels to be enjoyed include Zee Bolly movies, Viasat Life and AfricaXP’s, a new male-focused Trigger channel – offered for free to subscribers in various African countries. Multichoice also said there will also be a “monthly airtime bonuses.

“When putting together this rewards programme, we analysed the best global rewards practices, as well as what our customers love about the DStv brands,” says MultiChoice in a statement. The company further said the programme was slightly adjusted per African country where DStv Thanks was announced.

According to Multichoice, ”The rewards offered had to provide greater value to our loyal customers beyond the normal, while also providing more motivation to stay loyal to our platform. We are confident that the rewards we have lined up for DStv Thanks now and in the future will not only enhance our customers’ television viewing experience but also solidify their connection to our platforms.”

At the same time pay-TV rivals from China, StarTimes is ferociously competing to sign up and retain subscription television customers in Africa’s growing direct-to-home , DTH, satellite TV market. Startimes says its market strategy is based on quality content and affordability as its products are already heavily subsidized compared to what competitors  are doing.

In a release signed by Mr. Israel Bolaji,  Head of Public Relations of StarTimes, the company said it also gave its subscribers an Easter promo gift that allowed subscribers to enjoy a visual feast,  especially during the Easter celebration.

Excellent opportunity

According to Bolaji, the “Easter promo provided an excellent opportunity for viewers to learn more about premium channels on StarTimes platforms and fully experience the fantastic content services. StarTimes will always spare no efforts to offer rich, diverse and high quality television content services to its African customers.”

Meanwhile, StarTimes is not giving any condition precedent to enjoying its bouquets as was observed in the statement. MultiChoice which said it does not have plans to introduce DStv Thanks in South Africa, hiked its price with effect from April 1, 2017, besides minimal price increases for Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland.

However, MultiChoice Africa is feeling the pinch as subscribers in economies like Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana and Nigeria have been vocal about their struggles to afford DStv and GOtv. Recall Multichoice Nigeria Managing Director, John Ugbe said: “We try to minimize the impact of price increase in Nigeria. We have been very fortunate that after the price we put through on April1, 2016, we haven’t had to subject another price increase.”

According to him, at the moment we have been able to avoid increasing rates in Nigeria, despite increase in exchange rate and that is largely because the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, have been strong on policy decision–making. We also understand that there are times when we do things that are not popular, but we do it in the interest of the business. So because we are very conscious of the way that the consumers are likely to react, we tend to think quite deeply before we do stuff that is going to result in a negative impact.”

Quite recently, Multichoice at a press conference in Lagos made an announcement of a possible increase across some bouquets on the DSTV and Gotv platforms with effect from May 1, 2017. A probe into the pay-tv market shows that StarTimes is the only major competing pay-tv brand with subscribers paying as low as N800 to N4800 for the lowest to highest bouquet.

Chief Cyprian Umeh, a DSTV subscriber, said on possible price increase, “the Nigeria market and consumers are very active. They don’t like surprises in the system. They tend to react quite strongly to anything that they perceive as negative, which obviously, as a consumer-based business, it means that DStv needs to be on top of its game.”

Mike Uzeze, a StarTimes subscriber said that affordability is what drove him to the platform, but said that StarTimes needs to make sure that what they do in the country really makes sense for the consumer in order to keep competition running.