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Subscribers’ groan over service quality, subscription

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By Princewill Ekwujuru

Subscribers to pay television (pay TV) services in Nigeria yet again have expressed dismay over service quality, programming standard and subscription charged by the service providers.

Among the complaints also is the time lost in reconnecting subscribers who are yanked off before expiration of their subscription.

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

Nigerian subscribers have complained they were not getting enough content and channels on bouquets like their African counterparts.

They have also argued that the country is a large market and as such, should be treated with special concessions.

To improve on these demands, the operators have gone ahead to develop rich, diverse and high television content and programming services.

The service providers argued that the issue of high tariff being complained by subscribers may not be grounded in comparative terms.

The pay TV providers agree that there are inflationary push and pull which affects the computation of tariff among countries.

The operators debunked the claim that subscription fee is lower in some African countries than in Nigeria were the major operators Multichoice and StarTimes hold sway is not true.

Africa has a price structure that increases every year contrary to the situation in Nigeria where the tariff has remained constant for five years, the service providers have argued.

ALSO READ: Netflix boosts prices for US subscribers

In comparison, in South Africa Premium subscribers pay R809 (N21, 728.47), in Nigeria it is (15, 800). Compact Plus in the same country is R509 (N13,670),which is N10,650 in Nigeria,  Compact is R385 (N10,340.49) in Nigeria (N6,800), Family and Access bouquets pay Gh249 and R99 which are N6,687.75 and N2,656.98 and in Nigeria they are N4,000 and N2,000 respectively

In Ghana Premium subscribers pay GH365 (N27, 360.75), Compact Plus pay Gh 245 (N18,365.44), Compact  and family subscribers in Ghana pay GH 149 and GH85 which are (N11,165) and (6,961.60) respectively.

In Kenya, StarTimes premium package, Unique bouquet is Ksh1499 (N4, 517.57), which is (N3,800) in Nigeria.  Basic is Ksh 599 (N1, 808.41), in Nigeria it is (N1,300), Classic in Kenya is Ksh 999 (N3,010.69) in Nigeria Classic is (N2,600) while Smart bouquet is Ksh 899 (N2,740.617) in Kenya, in Nigeria it is N1,900.It is only Nigeria that the Nova package which is N900.

Similarly in Europe and the Americas, pay TV subscribers pay more. In the US, Pay TV operator, Direct TV’s two biggest packages are $110 (N38, 710) and $60 (N21, 660) respectively. For its biggest package, Xtra, Direct TV charges $55 (19,855).

United Kingdom‘s premium operator, Sky TV, charges 79.95 (NN38, 167.33) fullest package and 47.50 pound (N22, 572.97). The third package attracts 40pound (N19.008.82).

Despite these price disparities, Nigerians are not persuaded by the argument of the service providers, whom they accused of all kinds of unethical business practices.

Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M) investigation reveal that this service demand has pitched Nigerian pay TV operators against one in a quest to increase and retain subscribers’ who may want to switch allegiance.

StarTimes Managing Director Justin Zhang on his part, stated: “Our market strategy is based on quality content and affordability as our Products are already heavily subsidized compared to what competitors are doing.

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

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Subscribers speak

Of the number of subscribers that spoke to C&M were of the opinion that they are aware some bucks are passed down to them, but for the value they enjoy it becomes impossible for them to drop using Pay TV.

A subscriber, Emeka Nwaorisa, who resides in Satellite said: No matter how you look at it, “I believe the investments made by the operators are cascaded down to the consumers, take for example, the EPL that is heavily paid for.”

Morris Mbamara, another subscriber who resides in Isashi, Iba Local Council Development Area, Lagos said:  “Except the astronomical programming costs miraculously slide appreciably there is no chance for Pay TV prices to remain the same for a long time.”

Olajide Oluwa, a subscriber who resides in Ikeja complained that subscribers are made to pay for services not rendered, especially during rain falls when signals usually becomes weak and disappears.

“I think Nigerian subscribers are not getting enough content and channels on bouquets like their African counterparts,” said IIliasu Ahmed of  .

Matthew Anyebe a resident of Diamond Estate, Isheri Olofin, LASU-Isheri expressway said: “Nigeria is a large market and as such, should be treated with special concessions.”

According to Douglas Frank, a Nigerian based in the UK in a chat on facebook, said: “It cost about 30 pounds in London to at least get access to appreciable number of channels.

Also in South Africa, an average family, said a Nigerian pays 200 rand ( about N400,000) per month to get access to a number of channels.

Agent speaks

An agent who pleaded anonymity and whose business is located at satellite town, Lagos said: “Contrary to widespread belief that Pay TV prices around the world are stable is all a ruse. I have been to several countries where I witnessed the Pay TV. Even in the US prices are not stable, these increases are majorly as a result of content development and programming, equipment purchase and other logistics. It is not an easy task operating a pay TV platform.

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