30th November, 2010
The saying that when two elephants fight the ground suffers appears to be untrue inÂ the pay television industry as subscribers are currently reaping a good bargain fromÂ the price war between the three players in the industry- Multichoice, HiTV andÂ Startimes.
Before now, pay television service was an exclusive reserve of the rich. SatelliteÂ dishes usually revealed the status of their owners as high networth individuals.Â Back then, there was only one player in the industry â€”Multichoice, and as expectedÂ of a monopoly, the price could only rise.
Things, however, got relatively better with the introduction of HiTV â€”a whollyÂ Nigerian company. With HiTV’s relatively cheaper entry price, more subscribers cameÂ on board. ForÂ some time, the HiTV offer was seen as the biggest revolution in theÂ pay television industry until recently when Startimes made a statement that:Â everyone can own a pay television, with the introduction of its pocket friendlyÂ decoder.
Startimes revolution could not have come at a better time as current economicÂ realities has forced more people to look for cheaper and better alternatives inÂ virtually everything. With N9,000, Startimes offered its subscribers over 35Â channels at just N1,000 monthly subscription. As expected, thousands ofÂ subscribersÂ rushed to buy the plug and play decoders.
The two big players in the industry, Multichoice and HiTV responded by slashing theÂ prices of their decoders to N9,000.Â Multichoice decoders sold for N24,000 and HITVÂ N23,000 before the slash.
Startimes further responded by slashing its price to N7,000 with a promise that itÂ will go down further as it gains more subscribers.
Explaining the rational for the new price slash, the management of Startimes said:Â â€œThe introduction of the current pocket-friendly offer is designed to remove theÂ usual barrier which high cost constitutes and give opportunity to Nigerians to haveÂ access to digital television without draining their pockets.â€
â€œWe see no reason why Nigerians should pay through their nose just to be connectedÂ to pay television. In most parts of the world cable television has become a thingÂ for everyone, so why should some people keep the price high here and give us theÂ impression that it is only for the rich. We are here to change that impression.â€
â€œWe believe that access to information, education and entertainment should not inÂ any way be restricted or made to elude Nigerians under whatever guise. This isÂ because pay television is a vital instrument of self-development which hasÂ implication for overall development in the society.â€
What all three companies are doing have no doubt been of great benefit to theÂ country considering the 2015 international goal that all television stations acrossÂ the world must go digital. Besides, the only people smiling in this bargain are theÂ subscribers. But then what are they offering in terms of content?
Since it lost the lucrative English Premiership broadcast rights, the Nigerian PayÂ TV, HiTV decided to re-invent itself and the result has been an incredibleÂ transformation when everyone thought the loss sounded a death knell for the youngÂ company. HiTV, in spite of having the exclusive rights to the mother of all leagues,Â the UEFA Champions League, Carling Cup, EUROPA Cup and the Italian Series A, did theÂ unthinkable by first crashing its Premium subscription by almost half.
From N6,000, the price reviewed it downward to N3,500 and even with an additionalÂ channel to complement the price. Thus, Hi Nolly Yoruba that is making waves inÂ southwest Nigeria as well as across the country with its subtitled Yoruba moviesÂ came on board with a promise of more channels such as Igbo Amaka for the IgboÂ speaking audience and 4 Real TV that is a mix of reality and game shows. The promosÂ for all the new channels, billed to come on soon, are currently running on HiTVÂ platform
Multichoice on its part parades a variety of good content on all its bouquets fromÂ the Compact, Family, and Access among others. But its main catch is the EnglishÂ Premier League that was offered it after the owners of the rights controversiallyÂ withdrew it from the Nigerian company earlier in the year.
Startimes, aside from having an affordable entry cost and a N1,000 monthlyÂ subscription has over 36 channels. The management of the company has also promisedÂ to add more channels to its bouquet. In the area of sport, the Chinese company saysÂ its primary focus is to promote Nigerian local sports.
The management of the company says that in the next few months, there will be overÂ 50 channels on the platform while Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo contents will also be added.