Will DSTV survive the latest assault on its reign in Nigeria?

There is bad news for Multichoice, operators of DSTV; TSTV launched on Sunday October 1. As Nigerians celebrate the 57th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain, they have another form of self-determination to celebrate; how and when to use pay TV.

For years, Multichoice has been at odds with consumers and regulators over subscription costs. The owners of pay-TV network DSTV had increased subscription costs by more than 20 percent in Nigeria over the past 18 months and has carried out similar hikes across the continent, to the displeasure of consumers who claim they are not getting value for their money. One of the issues raised by consumers in Nigeria, which became a subject of discussion at the parliament in February last year, was the pay-as-you-use-model. However, the pay-TV company says its business model, for now, does not accommodate pay-as-you-watch which it explains is being mistaken for pay-per-view.

“Anywhere in the world, pay per view is materially more expensive for the person who wants to watch only that piece of content, than binding all the content together and spreading over the time market. It is just a mathematical calculation; it is not that complicated,” said Tim Jacobs, chief executive officer of Multichoice, a subsidiary of Naspers which operates DSTV, in an interview published in October 2015. But Nigerian subscribers will not care about the difference in terms or why DSTV cannot offer what they want; hundreds of thousands are already getting moving to TSTV, which promises to offer a pay as you go model. The pay TV services operated by Telcom Satellites Service Limited is not only offering pay as you go, but it is bringing a better alternative to DSTV’s SuperSport which has over the years being the provider of premium sports content to Nigerians.

TSTV is launching with 14 sports channels that can offer different kinds of sports content that Nigerians want and they can “pay as you go”. To be able to enjoy all football content on DSTV, a subscriber pays about $40. With the pay as you go option offered by TSTV, Nigerians expect to pay much less.

Telcom Satellites, operators of TSTV is also pioneering the introduction of Smart set top boxes in Nigeria Direct-To-Home (DTH) television industry. According to the company, its HD SMART Set Top Box (Connected Set top box) converts existing LED TV into a Smart TV, besides enabling subscribers to watch more than 100 Channels & services in High Definition and Standard Definition. While the DTH tech in it brings television channels in Standard Definition and High Definition, the Connected set top box allows subscribers to browse content from Twitter, Facebook, Daily Motion, as well as video on demand sites such as Iroko TV and Netflix. With internet connectivity, any LED TV can become a smart TV using TSTV’s smart set top boxes. To crown it all, subscribers are entitled to a complementary 20GB internet capacity every month. The company says this service is available for extension on demand.

Pay-TV used to be major revenue earner for Naspers, Multichoice’s parent company, but this has changed over the past few years, with its Internet business now accounting for more than two thirds of revenue. DSTV contributed $3.4 billion to Naspers’ revenue in 2016.

DSTV has managed to survive threats posed by new Pay TV services or VODs offering similar services in the past. How they do against TSTV may determine the future of the service in Nigeria.

TSTV’s proposition seems good and Nigerians are ready to try the new service. If it impresses, bye bye DSTV; if it doesn’t, Nigerians will continue to grudgingly subscribe to DSTV.