Nigeria: Making Premium TV Content Affordable


Since the advent of digital satellite television broadcasting in Nigeria in 1994, Nigerians have witnessed a steady growth in the sector with as many as 14 operators licensed to distribute TV content. Of the lot, only DStv, HiTV, MyTV, DaarSat and of recent, StarTimes and GOtv readily come to mind.

DStv has been the flagship of pay-TV for close to two decades. It is the standard by which satellite TV programming and content is judged. As a premium content provider with compelling programming, DStv became an aspirational brand of television service to many. What makes DStv tick is the uniqueness of its channels and content: The line up include CNN, M-Net's productions (now on AfricaMagic channels), SuperSport's football and other sports, other premium TV franchises from overseas, made available to subscribers of DStv.

DStv has progressively made pay-TV content available to its subscribers across different economic levels through the unbundling of its bouquet. GOtv is digital terrestrial television (DTT) that operates on a second-generation digital video broadcast technology ("DVB-T2") popularly known as T2. The advent of GOtv coincides with the country's effort to comply with the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) goal of migrating TV broadcasting from an analogue to digital platform by the year 2015. In addition, MultiChoice, the parent company of DStv has gone one step further. They have partnered with Details Nigeria limited, providers of GOtv, to give Nigerians premium TV content at an affordable price.

GOtv offers many advantages: it is easy to acquire and install, actually a Do It Yourself device with an optional aerial antennae. It does not require a dish to receive signals; neither does it require special expertise to activate. Almost all its channels, about 32, are familiar to DStv subscribers. The DVB-T2 superior technology, that GOtv operates on, offers a broader spectrum than the first generation digital video broadcast technology (DVB-T) popularly known as T1 and is considered more efficient.

While T1 allows for an upload of about 20 channels on a platform, T2 offers a broad range of about three times that size, meaning about 60 channels on its platform given the same bandwidth. T2 also offers crystal clear picture and sound, giving subscribers a feeling of total enjoyment anytime they watch television. Most importantly it is a leapfrog technology; a cost saver for the discerning Nigerian.

With less than N10, 000, anyone can acquire a GOtv decoder, install it by himself (a simple process akin to connecting your DVD to your TV) and instantly begin to enjoy premium content for as little as N8, 000 or N9, 500 for GOtv and GOtv Plus respectively. This package comes with a three-month free subscription. At the expiration of the initial three months, GOtv subscribers would have to renew their subscriptions depending on either of the bouquets they choose for N1, 000 and N1, 500 respectively.

In assembling the channels and the content of GOtv, the providers have achieved the set objective of liberalising the pay-TV terrain in Nigeria. An analyst said that since the subscription is less than 10 percent of the minimum wage, this is the first time premium TV content can be said to have been truly democratised. GOtv bouquet has a total of 25 channels while GOtv Plus has all the 25 channels on GOtv plus additional seven channels, including CNN, Sony Entertainment TV (SET), SuperSport Blitz, NatGeo Wild, Disney Junior, MTV Base and the primary AfricaMagic channel; bringing the total to about 32.

For lovers of African entertainment, GOtv offers five AfricaMagic channels. These are: AfricaMagic, AfricaMagic Hausa, AfricaMagic Movies, AfricaMagic World and AfricaMagic Yoruba. These are specially packaged channels with strong African content of deep value. They are the channels that help Africans to tell their stories to the world in the best way it could be done. These channels offer varieties of soap operas that families enjoy watching, the likes of: Family Ties, Clinic Matters, Super Story, Doctors' Quarters, and a host of other movies from different parts of the continent. The channels are arranged to cater to subscribers' interests taking into cognisance our diversity, languages and cultures. AfricaMagic channels are emporium for everything African.

It looks like the pay-tv industry is now fully awake to the needs and wants of its subscribers. Competition is certainly breeding more choice and options to suit the pockets and viewing habits of the Nigerians. From all indications, the growth of competition in the pay TV industry is to the advantage of all interest groups especially the consumer who not only enjoys more content but also has the power to choose a service provider based on affordability and personal preferences.