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Can TStv cut into DStv market share or fail like HITV before it

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DSTV’s years of dominance as Nigeria’s only player in the pay-TV market may be put to test as the company prepares to face competition from a Nigerian company Telecomm Satellite TV (TStv).

Critics argue that TSTV may not pose a significant threat to the South African company after it failed to live up to expectations when it first launched in 2018. But coming back after such initial fumbles means the company could have set things right.

If TSTV succeeds this time, DStv which has come under myriads of criticism lately over the increase in its subscription prices may then face real competition.

Starting as the first Pay-TV operator in Nigeria, DSTV has presence in 48 other countries across Africa, rivalling the best Pay-TV operators in America while providing an irresistible mix of local content and renowned channels.

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In recent years, DStv has had to weather the storm, ranging from criticism of inefficiency in its service provision, customer exploitation, and arbitrary increases in subscription fees.

DStv and GOtv subscribers are groaning after the Multichoice increased prices of bouquet twice in three months. The last increment came into effect in late August.

MultiChoice said the latest review on the implementation of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) introduced by the Federal Government in early 2020.

With the adjustment, DStv Compact subscribers have their subscription raised by 13.3 per cent (N7, 900 up from N6, 975).

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DStv Compact Plus subscribers have their rates increased by 9.8 per cent from N10, 925 to N12, 000. The DStv Premium was increased from N16, 200 to N18, 400 (13.6% hike).

The increase comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating economic hardship that has come with it.

Underlying all these is a strong claim of anticompetitive behaviour. But DStv has always maintained that its pricing was fair on its Nigerian customers.

To check DSTV’s anticompetitive behaviour, Nigeria Government in January announced a new broadcast regulation. The new regulation is expected to put an end to DStv’s alleged monopoly and anti-competitive practices, especially as it relates to sports broadcasting in the country. But nothing has really happened in favour of the subscribers yet there has been increase in package prices since then.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission recently said it is investigating Multichoice for abuse of market powers and unfair practices.

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“Upon credible information, public announcements by operators and consumer perception analytics, the FCCPC has opened an investigation into the conduct of dominant pay-TV service providers,” FCCPC said in a statement earlier this month.

TStV is hoping to appeal to those who have fell out with DStv. Bright Echefu, the chief executive officer of TStv, says his organisation will be the first to implement the pay-per-view model in Nigeria with over 100 channels that will be made available.

Interestingly, the channels can be screened for as low as N2 to N5 per day for each of it, a weighty difference when compared to the entry-level cable package of N1,850 on DSTV with about 40 channels.

But the number of channels per package is not as important as the relevance of those channels and screen time of subscribers. Hence, TSTV’s pay-per-day might suit the Nigerian market because of abysmal power supply but the model is not necessarily cheaper one considering subscribers who would want to watch several channels every day.

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But for those who view limited channels in limited time daily, TStv maybe a good choice. According to Echefe subscribers can choose their own channels and when they want to be connected.

“We are going to be the first to implement pay-per-view. What TSTV has done is, allow you to create your own bouquet and you have channels that are as low as N2 per day,” he said.

“If you have a N50 voucher, you are actually watching TV and saving your money,” adding that “nobody has as much HD channels as we do. We are rolling out with about 108 channels. We are going to be the first in sub-Saharan Africa to implement H.265,” the CEO said.

The question remains, will TSTV cut into DStv market share or fail like HITV before it? Only the time can tell.

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