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Gloomy future for Nigerian MultiChoice subscribers, as firm slashed subscriptions in Kenya, Ghana, 2 other countries

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Gloomy future for Nigerian MultiChoice subscribers, as firm slashed subscriptions in Kenya, Ghana, 2 other countries

Contrary to widespread expectations of Nigerian subscribers of DStv and GOtv, the management of MultiChoice Limited, has failed them again as the pay-TV slashed the monthly fees of its bouquets in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Botswana- neglecting Nigeria, its biggest market.

MultiChoice recently announced that it would be lowering monthly DStv subscription fees from November 1, this year, in several African countries where DStv prices were out of line with subscribers and that they would be adding a temporary Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net.

It also said that it will add several TV channels to lower-tiered bouquets in several African countries and make more soccer viewing available on SuperSport channels, given to its lower-tiered offerings, to boost the content offering for cheaper DStv packages and to add content value.

Several countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana are to benefit from this consideration– but notably, however, this largesse excludes South Africa and Nigeria, its two biggest markets.

The DStv price reduction becomes imperative as tough economic conditions face consumers and as there is greater competition in the pay-TV market from rivals such as StarTimes, EcoNet, Zuku and others. This has ensured that the pan-African pay-TV operator lowers prices, so as to stem the tide of subscribers on the continent cancelling their subscriptions.

In Nigeria, DStv prices are not lowered but some new local channels like ROK are being added and several channels previously only accessible to DStv Premium subscribers are being made available to lower packages to add bigger content value to cheaper subscription options.

Meanwhile, a premium subscriber that is perturbed about the operations of the management of MultiChoice who is also the Managing Director of Jumobite Fashion has threatened to lead a peaceful protest to the Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos headquarters of the company along with some of her friends, who are also premium subscribers.

She claims the tariff of the bouquet is too expensive compared to what other subscribers in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana pay.

According to her, asking Nigerian viewers to pay more for few channels and asking their counterparts in those countries to pay less for more is absurd and a way of saying Nigerians are gullible.

Although, there are indications that hundreds of thousands of the subscribers of the pay TV firm might not renew their monthly subscriptions if the company embarks on the venture to sideline Nigeria from its gesture to reducing subscription tariff.

Findings revealed that the company makes an average of about N8 billion from over 4 million subscribers every month in Nigeria alone and about N80 billion as turnover per year.

A top source close to the management of MultiChoice Nigeria, who claimed anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said that the company decided to slash fees in the other countries after it observed that about 40 per cent of its subscribers had refused to renew their subscriptions due to various degrees of economic recessions, which had made living conditions difficult, to say the least.

“The stiff DStv price hike put subscribers under pressure in those countries and we have lost about 300,000 subscribers in those countries in one year as people could no longer afford the service or no longer saw it as valuable enough. When reviewing our packages and prices in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business.

“To compensate our Nigerian viewers, we will introduce more amazing channels to the existing entertaining programmes. We have also embarked on an aggressive marketing and follow up innovation to ensure most of our subscribers do not abandon their bouquets. We call subscribers a few days to the expiration of their subscriptions to remind them about the reasons they should not miss out of the global village,” the source told NEWSVERGE.

New channels added

Elsewhere in Africa new TV channels such as Eva+, a sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, will be added to DStv with several channels that will be upgraded to high definition (HD) quality similar to South Africa.

While DStv Premium subscribers across the continent and including South Africa can watch the new pop-up M-Net channel M-Net Movies BlockParty on DStv channel 109, MultiChoice in a statement says DStv subscribers can also “look forward to more exciting pop-up channels in the coming months like the M-Net Movies Harry Potter pop-up channel which will run from 4 to 14 November.”

The Harry Potter pop-up channel will show all of the Harry Potter movies before the debut in theatres of the first movie of the new spin-off film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that is scheduled for a worldwide release on 18 November.

Significant price drop

The DStv price reduction starting November 1, comes in a year in which MultiChoice Africa decided not to increase subscription fees in several countries outside of South Africa, and following a first-ever double price increase in 2015 to try and keep up with local African currencies’ ongoing depreciation against the US dollar in which most premium TV contents are acquired.

The stiff DStv price hike put subscribers under pressure and led to the loss of 288, 000 subscribers in one year as people could no longer afford the services or no longer saw it as valuable enough, at the same time as competing services such as the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Naspers’ ShowMax and America’s Netflix launched their services across Africa.

The price of DStv in South Africa as well as some of the other markets including Nigeria, compares favourably with the pricing in the countries where subscription prices are currently being reviewed downwards

In Kenya, DStv subscribers will pay between 5 per cent to 13 per cent less from November 1 for the various packages.

In Uganda, a MultiChoice spokesperson said we “realized that increasing subscriptions all the time is not sustainable. In the long run, people will not afford our services if we continued this way.”

In Zimbabwe DStv subscriptions are dropping between 11 per cent and 21 per cent from November with subscribers to cheaper packages in this country, as elsewhere, getting more soccer content with the addition of more UEFA Champions League matches as well as coverage of the best European football leagues and the Europa League on SuperSport.

“The significant price drop, coupled with the major boost in entertainment value across all DStv bouquets, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring DStv customers receive the best possible access to great entertainment and outstanding value,” says MultiChoice Africa in a statement that was slightly adjusted for each African country where DStv price reductions are being introduced.

“These changes are not only a defining moment in our MultiChoice story, but also a defining moment in the African entertainment landscape and we are proud to be pushing as hard as we can to delight every television entertainment fan in Africa.”

No price reduction in South Africa and Nigeria

MultiChoice in South Africa says South African and Nigerian DStv subscribers won’t see a price reduction and that the price of DStv Premium in South Africa compares favourably with the pricing in other African countries.

“We review the DStv prices once a year when we do our business planning – our prices for next year will be announced before 1 April 2017.”

“We’ve done a lot of research into what pay-TV costs in other parts of the world, and we believe that DStv offers good value for money in the countries in which it operates.”

“In South Africa we’ve implemented a number of cost-saving options for our customers – those who pay annually receive one month free, and our Price Lock packages enable customers to freeze their package price for two years.”

MultiChoice currently has close to 10 million subscribers in 49 sub-Saharan African countries.

Our Reporter

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective.The Verge Communications (NEWSVERGE) is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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