Uganda: GTV Struggles to Satisfy Demand, As Premier League Kicks Off

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Overwhelming demand for the English Premier League games on pay television has left hundreds of customer queuing up at Gateway Television Broadcasting offices. Since August 12, GTV offices have been overcrowded with customers who want to buy services to be able to watch their favourite English Premiership teams play. GTV ran out of stock of decoders, dishes and other accessories.

"I know that the last unit of our stock was sold on Sunday and we currently we have 1,000 people who have paid up but have not received their hardware," Peter Mungoma, the sales and marketing manager, said last Wednesday.

GTV, which currently holds rights to broadcast 80 per cent of the Premiership games in East Africa, is rivaling DSTV Multichoice Uganda Ltd which has for the past 10 years dominated the local pay television market with its broadcast of English football.

The entry of GTV has brought in a new twist to competition with most football funs switching sides to have be able to watch their teams play.

"A combination of things has driven the demand up. One; the extreme popularity of the Barclays Premier League of which we have 80 per cent television rights, second; people have been looking forward to a new and more affordable pay television, plus of course the fantastic price of the offering on hardware could explain the upsurge in demand of the hardware," Mungoma said.

The competition has been underlined with price cuts for hardware and services and a publicity war in which the two broadcast firms have spent millions of shillings to woe customers. Multichoice' price for a fully installed hardware and initial subscription for services has dropped from over Shs600,000 two years ago to Shs279,000 two weeks ago.

It currently charges a monthly subscription fee of Shs116,450 for 50 channels on its premium bouquet, Shs42,500 for 25 channels on its Compact bouquet and Shs32,300 for 20 on the Family package, per month.

"The primary reason for the reduction is to drive sales up. We have introduced quite a number of products on the market like Big Brother and Deal or No Deal which have increased demand," said Mr Charles Hamya, the general manager Multichoice Uganda.

According to Mr Hamya, the company's sales have grown in the last one month.

Besides lowering the prices, Multichoice has also introduced a scheme where its interested customers can acquire their hardware and services on a hire purchase basis with an initial deposit of Shs100,000 to be completed in the next two months. Since it's inception in June, GTV has registered at least 5,000 customers according to GTV's Mungoma while Pearl Digital television is just rolling out and has unknown number of customers on board.

Mungoma said an extra 2,000 hardware sets have been imported and will be supplied as soon as they clear with the Uganda Revenue Authority at Entebbe. "We have stock at the airport and we are just clearing it and we hope to supply most dealers before the end of the week [last week]," he said.

GTV's price for a fully installed hardware and initial subscription is Shs350,000 with a subsequent monthly subscription of Shs71,000 for its G. Prime bouquet. According to Mungoma, what people want is good football, good news, and good movie channels all for the price of a utility bill.

(The Monitor (Kampala), 21 August 2007)