Martin Mabutho is the Chief Customer Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria. In this interview, Mabutho speaks on the Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) latest edition which winds down today and how it has shattered all records.
He also speaks on what his company is doing to improve on sports coverage across the world and entertainment among other programmes. Excerpts:
By Olalekan Bilesanmi
The 2020/21 Football Season is in full swing. What plans in terms of coverage should DStv, GOtv customers expect from SuperSport?
We are excited to deliver to football lovers a truly unrivalled front-row viewing experience this new football season. Our customers on DStv and GOtv will get to enjoy the best football leagues on the planet LIVE in HD and SD on our SuperSport channels. We are proud to once again bring premium football entertainment from the Premier League, Spanish action from the La Liga and the best Italian Serie A, to football fans. We are airing ALL 380 games from the Premier League and La Liga, and the best matches of Serie A with DStv & GOtv customers getting access to these games available on their specific packages.
As part of our football offering, customers can also expect to watch LIVE matches from the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup which is currently underway. This football fiesta will be served on 11 SuperSport channels dedicated to football on DStv. We are also proud and excited to be the sole broadcaster of the ongoing UEFA Nations League which resumes in October.
We will as well air international football events in the world including the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship, UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar which promises to be big. Our customers can enjoy all these top football leagues alongside expert analysis from top football pundits and commentary from our SuperSport studio presenters.
Your DStv and GOtv platforms have sports as the main drivers. Was this a deliberate strategy from the start or it was something that happened as you went along?
We provide the best video entertainment content and that includes sports. Nigerians love their sports, specifically football. That’s why every content acquisition strategy must include football. Football has over the years evolved from being just a sport into a bond that connects almost everyone on the planet! Fans are not only concerned with the players when they are on the pitch but also want to know what they are up to when they are off the pitch. From the latest transfer updates, to manager hires and fires – the game of football has become a major staple in the TV content consumption habits of Nigerians.
Explain the revamp of the SuperSport Channels. What influenced the change in the numbering system?
We recently revamped our SuperSport channels which saw us change from a numbering system to a thematic channel system. Simply put, we renamed our SuperSport channel to match the sports content to be aired on it. For example, we have SS Premier League on DStv channel 203 which will now be the home of the Premier League, showcasing 24 hours non-stop coverage of the Premier League. There’s also SS La Liga, SS Tennis, SS Golf, SS Motorsport, SS Action and more. We also introduced a new channel which is the SS Grandstand which will become the home of the day’s most popular live sport. The new strategy will enable customers find it easy and simple to find what sport they want to watch, when they want to watch it as well as expose them to our wide variety of sports offering.
What other sports do customers get to enjoy asides football?
There’s a whole lot of sports on offer on DStv and GOtv, so much so we had to create a SuperSport channel to reflect each sports offering, from Tennis to Cricket, Rugby, F1, WWE, UFC, which will feature this Sunday our very own Israel Adesanya in a massive showdown with Paulo Costa for his UFC middleweight belt at UFC 253 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
The fight will air live on DStv Action from 3 am. We also provide comprehensive coverage of major Athletics and Marathons from around the world. We also boosted our sports catalogue with the recent addition of ESPN and ESPN 2. Of course, you know ESPN is the home of the best American sports and now our customers can now enjoy popular premier American leagues including the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB). The channels will also feature live football from the English Football League (EFL) and the Scottish Premier Football League (SPFL) to name a few.
How much involvement have you had in sports locally and how much do you hope to have as you go along?
We are committed to the growth and development of sports locally and this is seen in our support for grassroots and professional sports in the country.
In our over 25 years of operations, we partnered the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) with the sponsorship of the Men’s Basketball League at a time when the game did not command much loyal and passionate followership like football. We were also the official broadcast sponsors of the Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL). Currently, we are the official broadcast partners of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), a position we’ve held for many years. Also noteworthy is our partnership with The Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C) since 2014 for the development and promotion of Boxing in Nigeria. This partnership gave rise to the GOtv Boxing Night series and the GOtv Boxing NextGen Search, a developmental programme to discover boxing talent aged between 18 and 25 and who are on the verge of turning professional.
This is an investment we are proud of and we have seen a tremendous amount of growth in the sector. The boxing glory of yesteryears is slowly coming back with a new crop of young talented boxers and we are excited to help make this happen!
For non-sports lovers, what upcoming content should they look forward to?
Like we say, there is entertainment for everyone on DStv and GOtv. We’ve increased our channel and content offering on DStv with the launch of five new international channels and pop-up channels over a three-month period which began in August.
These channels range across different genre. First launched in August was Wild Earth channel, which delivers an interactive safari experience for lovers of nature and TLNovela, a new Mexican telenovela channel which boasts a huge catalogue of English-dubbed Mexican telenovelas from Latin America’s second-largest producer, Televisa.
Then from October 1, three new channels: Zoo Moo, a kids’ animation channel; Timeless Dizi, a Turkish novella channel; and KIX, an exciting martial arts action thriller, will join the line-up on DStv. In November, Korean Drama, which continues to experience an incredible rate of acceptance around the world, will also come to DStv screens via tvN channel. In addition, we restructured our M-Net channels for movie lovers to easily access their favorite movie genre and keep tabs on the latest releases. So, we consolidated and renamed them M-Net Movies 1, M-Net Movies 2, M-Net Movies 3, and M-Net Movies 4. This is in no way impacts the number of movies available to DStv customers, we’ve only made it easier for them to find the right movies at the right time. Also, the most-watched reality TV show, Big Brother Naija season 5, comes to an end tonight.
This edition has shattered all records in terms of votes, fan engagement, social media trends and, of course, prize money. The winner of this season will walk away with 85 million naira worth of prizes. Right off the back of the BBNaija, will be the premiere of two new telenovelas, Enakhe and Riona, on Africa Magic on Monday, 28 September from 8 pm.
Telling local stories continues to be our top priority and we are passionate about telling the stories that resonate with our DStv and GOtv audiences in Nigeria. These and more to come in the next few days and weeks. There really is no better time to be on DStv or GOtv than now!
Tell us more about the recently launched Showmax Pro
Showmax Pro is the expanded version of the streaming service, Showmax. With Showmax Pro you get to stream live sports in addition to movies, series and kids shows from any mobile device of your choice. Live sports featured on Showmax Pro includes all Premier League, Serie A, La Liga as well as other live sports events including athletics, professional boxing, and marathons.
Additionally, as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our DStv Premium customers, we are offering Showmax subscriptions at no extra cost. Some of the exciting content available include BBNaija extra view, which means you get to see some other camera vantage positions from the house not seen on DStv. There’s also blockbuster international series such as HBO’s Insecure as well as the best local content.
What are some of the latest innovations and value-added services your customers will enjoy this season?
Innovation sits at the core of our business and that’s why we keep tasking ourselves to design products that continuously improve our customers’ control and enjoyment of their viewing experience. We continue to optimize our mobile apps – MyDStv and MyGOtv apps which now sit at over 4 million downloads from 1 million back in September 2019, to ensure customers have a seamless interaction. The apps are designed to give customers control of their DStv or GOtv accounts including fixing common errors, making payments or switching packages.
In addition, we have introduced an auto-renewal payment option on the apps so that customers enjoy an uninterrupted viewing on their DStv or GOtv. We have also introduced some features on our HD DStv decoders to enhance its functionality and make it easier for customers to have access to important subscription information, including rewards and how to avoid disconnections. These features appear as icons on the top right corner of the screens.
How is MultiChoice enhancing customers experience in terms of response time to queries?
We have a continuous strategy that sees us improve the way our customers experience our business whenever and whichever way they engage with us. We’re living in a digital world and we are leading the way in making customer service easier in a digital space.
That said, we have in the past few months designed different platforms that provide ease and convenience to customers. A key platform is the MyDStv and MyGOtv apps which is the go-to app for customers to take control of their accounts right from their mobile devices.
We also introduced a 24/7 DStv WhatsApp service for query resolutions in a chat format that customers are already comfortable with. Then there’s the USSD platform *288# which we recently upgraded for customers with a basic feature phone. Now, all these platforms are available in addition to our Call Centres which have been optimized to provide resolutions between 4 to 24hrs depending on the nature of the query.