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China’s StarTimes & the battle for supremacy in Nigeria’s Pay Tv industry

Until recently, the pay TV industry in Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country and arguably the largest economy has been dominated by two major players, South Africa’s MultiChoice and China’s StarTimes.

Until about 8 years ago, Nigeria had only MultiChoice as the major pay tv service provider, but that changed quickly when StarTimes launched in 2010, targeting the mass market with a strategy that seemed to have propelled it to hold the largest subscriber base in Nigeria, thereby forcing MultiChoice to revisit its offerings, billing and overall strategy.

The battle to reign supreme in Nigeria had always been between these 2 players until mid September, when a new kid on the block, Telcomsat Limited, owners of TSTV made a surprise entry into the market, promising free wifi with decoders, broadcast of EPL games and lots more, with a promise to launch on October 1st to coincide with Nigeria’s independence, in a campaign that was described as giving independence to Pay TV subscribers.

This was overwhelmingly received by Nigerians, with many expressing their displeasure at MultiChoice, understandably because of the monopoly they enjoy on EPL and pricing which Nigerians describe as unfriendly rates. Unfortunately, the hype turned out to be a flash in the pan, as the anticipated launch on October 1 never saw the light of day, leaving the hopes of many Nigerians dashed.

But in a dramatic twist, StarTimes Nigeria quickly announced on Thursday October 19 via its official Twitter handle @startimes_ng that it was commencing Pay Per Day service. The company twitted thus: NIGERIA: What if we told you that you can now pay per day, per week & 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.

Nigeria: Entertainment just got subsidized with #StarTimesPaybyday Nigeria: Enjoy unlimited access to quality entertainment on StarTimes. Now you can #Payperday #payperview #payasyouwatch

As expected, Nigerians on social media quickly jumped on this announcement, with the tweets gathering over 100 retweets within minutes.

It was almost as if the much anticipated messiah has come. There were many positive reactions and questions were raised, a lot of people wanted to know when the service would commence, how much the rates were, how long it would last for and more.

Although details of the package is still sketchy as no official statement has been issued to the media on this. The company only said Nigerians could pay as low as N60 daily to enjoy the service or N300 a week come November 1.

No doubt, TSTV may have triggered the discussion around Per Per Day in Nigeria, but it is important to note that StarTimes had been offering this service fully in 2 other African countries like Uganda and Zambia, with a test run in Nigeria for over 8 months southwest before the actual announcement was made.

Analysts believe that the industry is towing the line of the Telecoms Industry, likening StarTimes announcement of pay per day to the strategic role Globacom played with the introduction of per second billing which was said to have been impossible to implement by other telecom operators in Nigeria.

It will be interesting to see how the Pay TV subsector of the broadcast industry pans out, knowing that this move by StarTimes will trigger reactions from competing serve providers, all to the benefit of Nigerians.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.