Nigeria’s Pay TV Market: New entrants, stiffer competition, same status quo


The nation’s pay tv sector received a boost, recently, as two new pay tv brands, TSTV and Kwese TV, announced their debut in the nation’s digital broadcast space.

Besides expanding the frontiers of the nation’s digital tv space, not a few believe that the latest development would also go a long way in deepening competition and raise the stakes in a market segment that had, hitherto, witnessed little or none of such competition.

For instance, despite an array of brands, doing business in that space, only a negligible few: DSTV, Gotv, StarTimes and, probably, Consat can really be described as making waves, as far as the nation’s paytv industry is concerned.

While Dstv, with five major bouquets, leads the pack with its array of news, sporting and entertainment offerings, though at some premium costs, StarTimes, with four bouquets, has also continued to ‘walk its talk’ of ‘democratising the digital broadcast space’, by offering relatively affordable prices to Nigerians, especially those at the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder.

The brand’s recent decision, therefore, to give its subscribers the opportunity to pay per day, at a cost of N60, is seen by many, as a way of demystifying the erroneous belief that digital tv is for the elites; since such an amount, in today’s economy, is considered paltry and highly affordable to many Nigerians, irrespective of their social and economic status.

But, in spite of these innovations and other seemingly-friendly price offerings by some of these established pay tv brands, not a few Nigerians still believe in ‘the more, the merrier’ adage, for that market segment. Therefore, the coming on board of TSTV and Kwese was seen as one of the needed ‘push’ that should break the dominance of some of the established brands in that market.

For instance, there is the belief, in some quarters, the pay- per- view services, hurriedly offered by StarTimes, almost on the day TSTV was to make its debut into the nation’s digital broadcast space, was a way of ‘pre-empting’ the new pay tv service provider, since it was supposed to be one of its unique selling points.

Prior to this, the body language of some of the established pay tv brands in that market was that the nation’s broadcast space was not ripe, yet, for such service.

But, with the offer, subscribers can do their subscriptions daily, once in three days, weekly, once in ten days, once in two weeks and monthly. While Kwese does not have for daily, it has offered for once in three days, weekly and monthly subscriptions.

“The idea is to allow for flexibility. Some subscribers are not always around, so instead of ‘compelling’ them to pay for the whole month, they only need to pay for those days they know they will be in. It is a response to a crucial market need, but definitely not to compete with any brand in the segment. What we’ve done is to see a need and fill it,” explained one of the officials of Kwese TV, who would not want her name in print, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune.

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Not a few therefore, see this development as a repeat of what happened in the nation’s telecoms industry, years ago, when Glo Mobile decided to announce its debut into that space. The telecoms service provider had declared its intention to give telephone subscribers per-second- billing service, a development that caused disruption in that space; since the two existing brands, then: MTN and Econet, had claimed that such package was almost impossible.

Curiously, weeks after the debuts of these two new pay tv brands, stakeholders are however of the opinion that it would be too early in the day to begin to make such comparison. They believe that though the two new pay tv brands had made their entries into that market in grand styles, they would need more than ‘mere’ price adjustments to really survive the terrain.

Olaide Olajunwon, a pay tv technician would not see anything different in terms of pricing as far as all the brands in the segment are concerned.

“We had thought the coming on board of these new pay tv brands would further ‘liberalise’ the market, but I doubt if such things would happen, in a very long time to come,” Olajuwon noted.

He continued: “let us look at it this way, what the pay- as- you- go offering of TSTV simply meant is that you pay N200 for one day, N500 for three days and N750 for weekly subscriptions. It also offers

N1,000, N1,500 and N3,000 for ten days, two weeks and monthly respectively. Kwese’s price range is between N990, N1,850 and N6,275.

For me and many others, these are still not cheap’.

“Interestingly, while StarTimes’ N60 charge can be said to be affordable, many are really not sure of the spirit behind such Greek gift. For instance, why wait till the eleventh hour, when a competition was about signing in into that space before dangling the offer?” queried Muyiwa Babson, a subscriber, on the social media.

Babson believes though the nation’s pay tv market space is witnessing some new entrants, a more fierce competition, but the status quo will still remain, for some time.

“Until when these new players can meet the nation’s subscribers at the point of their needs, especially in the area of providing English Premiership League matches, Dstv dishes would still continue to adorn every available space in the household, in this part of the country,” Babson argued.