A fresh wave of competition is imminent in Nigeria’s pay television (pay TV) industry. Courtesy of the introduction of ‘pay-per-day’ or ‘pay-as-you-watch’ offer by StarTimes, a relatively new entrant into the market, there are indications that the scramble for consumers’ patronage by service providers will intensify.
The expectation by consumers is that the new wave of competition ignited by StarTimes through the introduction of new and exciting contents, with top-notch audio visual quality and low-priced bouquets, will prompt a response by existing service providers and ultimately, force a drastic reduction in subscription rates and decoder prices.
Already, a few consumers have started embracing the StarTimes’ game-changing pay-per-day service, which, according to the company’s management, attracts a daily payment of N60 (USD 0.17) to enjoy all the channels. Interestingly, recently launched Telecom Satellite Television (TStv) has also caught the low-priced bouquet bug, offering its pay-as-you-watch model at a daily subscription rate of N200 (USD 0.56). Three days subscription attracts N500 (USD 1.39), while its weekly subscription goes for N750(USD2.09).
The Pay-As-You-Consume cable TV provider in Nigeria charges N1, 000 (USD2.78) for 10 days subscription, N1, 500(USD4.17) for two weeks subscription, while its monthly subscription goes for N3, 000(USD8.34).
Until StarTimes threw its hat in Nigeria’s highly competitive pay TV market, existing pay TV operators had segmented the market with price differentiation for their bouquets.
For example, Multichoice, owners of DStv, has four bouquets namely, Family, Compact, Compact Plus and Premium, which are subscribed for at $5.28, $10.56, $17.51, $27.52 and $40.87, respectively.
But StarTimes may have changed the dynamics with its ‘pay-per-day’ or ‘pay-as-you-watch’ offer. This means that a consumer will only be charged for what he uses, unlike DStv. “Our aim is to ensure that we deliver digital entertainment to every Nigerian home at very affordable rates and we will ensure that this is done in the coming years,” its Chief Executive, Mr. Justin Zhang, said.
He explained that the cable TV provider reached the decision to introduce pay-per-day service in Nigeria late 2016, but was delayed because Nigeria being the biggest market in sub-Saharan Africa, it would not be a wise business decision to launch a product or service without proper testing. Zhang said the launch of the service had to be properly done to avoid any technical disruption, hence the need to test-run the offer for months and make corrections where needed before rolling out a hitch free service.
He said as a highly innovative company, StarTimes continually seeks new ways to improve its customer experience and satisfaction and pay-per-day is one of such.
Zhang revealed that apart from introducing the pay-per-day service, StarTimes moved a notch higher by improving its content. According to him, the company has not only upgraded its movie channels, but also added more safe channels for kids to also enjoy. He further stated that StarTimes now broadcast new movies from Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood, (America, Nigeria and India movie industry, respectively).
For existing and prospective subscribers to StarTimes, the icing on the cake is perhaps, the broadcasting of the Russia 2018 World Cup live on StarTimes.
Zhang said this was in fulfilment of the company’s promise to ensure that digital entertainment was delivered to every home. “All our subscribers will be enjoying live matches of the World Cup from the comfort of their homes without putting a hole in their pockets,” he said.
Explaining further on how pay-per-day or pay-as-you-watch works, Zhang, said: “When you talk of pay-as-you-watch, we may be construing it to mean pay-per-day.
“If you want to watch a match today you can pay for one day, or you pay for one week or pay for month for your family. I think this is another definition for pay-as-you-go. You can pay-per-day instead of paying per month.”
Zhang commended the discerning members of the public for the dramatic increase in subscription and promised that they are in business to represent the interest of all potential customers, especially those in the lower rung of the ladder.
Indeed, the offer has gladdened the hearts of consumers. For instance, a subscriber, Eunice Igbokwe, said she is happy with the competition in the sector, noting that consumers are better off with such. She said though StarTimes has not been too long in the market, but coming up with this innovative payment model will be a plus for them.
She decried a situation where some operators in the sector practically held consumers to ransom. She lamented that sometimes consumers pay and will not be connected for days and weeks as the case may be.
According to her, one of the factors that attracted her to the network was the fact that she can travel for weeks without her account reading. Igbokwe related this to the new electricity prepaid regime, which makes it possible for somebody to only pay for what he or she consumed.
Another subscriber, Dele Abiodun, who also uses StarTimes and has bought the recently launched Kwese, attested to the quality of the programmes. He, however, asked that they continue to maintain the quality of the programmes.
He went on to say that the purchase of Kwese was because of the free-to-air soccer channels and its flexible subscription plan.
Another subscriber, Ibukun Oni said she uses the latest entrant, Kwese because of its simplified payment system. “If I am cash strapped I will go for the N990 or N1,800 bouquet, since it will give me the same number of channels for the number of days my subscription will last.”
The Nation learnt that the new wave of competition in the pay TV markets re-ignited by StarTimes comes in the mould of the competition in the telecoms sector, where the introduction of per second billing by indigenous telecoms giant, Globacom forced other services providers to drastically reduce the cost of their services.
Recall, for instance, that at the take off of mobile telecommunications in Nigeria, MTN was the premiere company and it only provided call rate billing on per minute while the cost of SIM card was as high as $500 as at 2002.
Credit: The Nation Nigeria