March 7, 20..
On Wednesday, March 4, the news of DSTV/GOTV subscription fees increase came to Nigerians as a rude shock. With the new rates, each bouquet attracts a rather huge 16.7% increase starting from April 1, 2015. MultiChoice, which owns DSTV and GOTV, is well-known for frequent subscription fees increase - taking advantage of its near-monopoly powers.
It is obvious MultiChoice Africa do not consider the peculiar market environment of its subscribers across Africa in making such strategic decisions. In a response to a Q&A on part-subscription on its website, MultiChoice wrote, “South Africa will be moving from analogue to digital services very soon, so all analogue-based services will be discontinued.” Why should Nigerian subscribers have to be constrained by South African regulations for services rendered in their country? Besides, digital service makes it rather easier for part-subscription activation and monitoring.
The company equally displayed an outright lack of respect for its customers by not explicitly stating reasons for the increase. Rather, it cited on its website, “In order for us to continue offering you the best in local and international entertainment, we review our subscription fees annually” (emphasis added), as the reason for the increase.
Also in a scroll message sent to subscribers, the company said “Dear Subscriber, due to operational costs, there will be a subscription increase from 1 April 2015. Your new rate will be 13,980.” Note that the message does not read “due to ‘increase’ in operational costs, particularly ‘satellite lease cost, programming cost, royalties....’”
It would, therefore, not be out of place to say that the fee increase is simply to raise the company’s returns without concern for customers’ satisfaction.
When Nigerian subscribers who give the company a huge chunk of its revenue base are treated thus, it shows the low level of value the company places on its customers. Such is the result of the power of its monopolistic tendencies.
The company’s choice of words reflects that of arrogance, insensitivity and share lack of respect for customers.
…Following years of customer dissatisfaction and what Nora Ibekwe (SAN) described as “blatant arrogance, impunity and high level of greed, in August 2021, a group of lawyers came together to sue the number one satellite television service provider in Nigeria, DS&TV, on behalf of subscribers. The suit demanded a whopping $55B as damages caused by negligence and conspiracy.
In order to save the company from crashing, the owners reached an out-of-court agreement to grant its subscribers a one month free subscription valued at $25B - within 1 year; and to withdraw its law suit against Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) on Digital TV Portability Bill. The bill was to give digital TV subscribers the right to switch at will to any service provider of their choice six times in a year. In effect, decoders would become the outright property of the subscriber and he/she could decide the service provider to use simply by changing smartcards. Two months after, the bill was signed into law.
The bill broke the monopoly powers of DS&TV. The company now has only 9% of the subscriber base as against 75% it had in 2015. There are now 121 pay TV service providers in the country. The competition in the market has made subscription packages a lot flexible - with part-subscription and pay-per-view being the most widely purchased packages across all networks.
Thursday, March 7, 2024
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