February 13, 2019

PayTV subscribers’ groan over service quality, subscription

Pay TV

Pay TV

By Princewill Ekwujuru

Subscribers to pay television, pay TV, services in Nigeria have expressed dismay over poor service quality and programming standard as well as prohibitive subscription charges.

They also complained of reconnection delay suffered by subscribers who are disconnected before expiration of their subscription.

There is also the complaint that subscribers are made to pay for services not rendered to them, particularly when it rains and signals usually becomes weak and disappears.

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The subscribers also complained they are shortchanged by a number of channels on the various bouquets, unlike other African countries; while stating that Nigerian subscribers pay the highest subscription rate.

They are also demanding for special concessions in view of the huge potential of the Nigerian market.

According to Olajide Oluwa, a subscriber who resides in Ikeja, subscribers are made to pay for services not rendered, especially during rainfall when signals usually become weak and disappear.

“I think Nigerian subscribers are not getting enough content and channels on bouquets like their counterparts in other African countries,” said IIliasu Ahmed of Tracks and Record Enterprises, Ojodu, Lagos.

Another subscriber, Amarachi Ugboma who corroborated the above subscribers said: “We lack enough contents in Nigeria. There are some programmes in Africa and Europe we do not get.”

She advised: “Service providers should also work on signal loss during rains or thunderstorms, for example, I could not access service for a day because of disruption challenges associated with rains. I had to call in an installer who had to re-access the channels for me at a fee.”

On his part, Matthew Anyebe, a resident of Diamond Estate, Isheri Olofin, LASU-Isheri Expressway, Lagos said: “Nigeria is a large market and as such, should be treated with special concessions like rates reduction.

The rate at which subscribers are disconnected before and after expiration of subscription is alarming,” he said.

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According to a United Kingdom-based Nigerian,  Douglas Frank: “It costs about 30 pounds in London to at least get access to appreciable number of channels.

Pay TV operators, however, dismissed the complaints, saying they are not new. They said that in recent times they have invested heavily to develop rich, diverse and high television content and programming services for subscribers’ enjoyment and are set to do more.

They also stated that the issue of high tariff complaint by subscribers is not new, stressing that Nigeria has the lowest tariff in Africa.

They also stated that tariff computation is determined by inflationary pressures in each country.

They stated that Africa has a price structure that increases every year contrary to the situation in Nigeria where the tariff had remained constant.

Speaking at a recent press conference, Managing Director, Multichoice Nigeria, John Ugbe said: “We try to minimise the impact of price increase in Nigeria. We have been very fortunate that after the price we put through on May 1l, 2017, we haven’t had to make another price increase.

“At the moment, we have been able to avoid increasing rates in Nigeria, despite increases in exchange rate, and that is largely because the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria have been strong on policy decision-making.

On his part, StarTimes Managing Director, Justin Zhang, stated: “Our market strategy is based on quality content and affordability as our products are already heavily subsidised compared to what subscribers are saying.

StarTimes will always spare no efforts to offer rich, diverse and high quality television content services to its African customers.”

Countering the arguments of the subscribers, a cross country comparison of subscription rates as released by operators across Africa show as follows:

In South Africa, Multichoice, owners of digital satellite television, DSTV,  said Premium bouquet  subscribers pay R809 (N21, 728.47). In Nigeria, subscribers on the same bouquet  pay N15, 800.

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In South Africa also, subscribers on Compact Plus pay R509 (N13, 670). In Nigeria, subscribers on same bouquet pay N10, 650.

Multichoice stated that South African subscribers on Compact bouquet pay R385 (N10, 340.49). In Nigeria subscribers pay N6, 800.

South Africa subscribers on the Family and Access bouquets pay R249 and R99 which are N6, 687.75 and N2, 656.98.  In Nigeria subscribers on same bouquets pay N4, 000 and N2, 000 respectively.

In Ghana, Premium subscribers pay GH365 (N27, 360.75), Compact Plus subscribers pay Gh245 (N18, 365.44), Compact and family subscribers in Ghana pay GH149 and GH85 which are (N11, 165) and (N6,961.60) respectively.

In Kenya, StarTimes premium package, Unique bouquet is Ksh1,499 (N4, 517.57). In Nigeria the subscribers on the same bouquet pay N3,800.

For Basic bouquet, Kenya subscribers pay Ksh 599 (N1, 808.41). In Nigeria, subscribers on the same bouquet pay N1, 300.

Classic bouquet subscribers in Kenya pay Ksh999 (N3, 010.69). In Nigeria, subscribers on the same bouquet pay N2, 600.

Also, Smart bouquet subscribers in Kenya pay Ksh 899 (N2, 740.617).Nigerians pay N1, 900 for the same bouquet. However, it is only in Nigeria that the Nova package is operational for N900.