Expectations are high as the new kid on the block, Telcom Satellite TV (TSTV), promises to give popular cable operator DSTV, a run for its money. But does TSTV have what it takes to live to its promise? Bukola Aroloye asks.

With the formal launch of the Nigerian-owned cable television, Telcom Satellite TV (TSTV) on October 1, 2017, a lot of things will give.

TSTV, a Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcast service is the child of a multi-transponder agreement between ABS and Telcom Satellites TV to deliver DTH to Nigeria on the ABS 3A satellite. The service is set to air more than 100 TV channels first and grow to above 150 with time. TSTV Africa will function in the 36 states.

TSTV aims at giving Nigerians a breath of fresh air with its viewer-friendly money-for-service value offerings unlike DStv, as it also offers users the ability to pause subscriptions for a period of seven days every month amongst other mouth-watering features.

What prompted TSTV

In Nigeria, which is one of South African biggest markets, DSTV has been around for about 22 years. However, the company has often been in the news mostly for ripping Nigerians off with its inflexible subscription conditions and unfriendly quality of service (QoS) which could be attributed to its monopolistic status in the Nigerian market.

Its monopoly was last challenged by HiTV which has long ceased to be in the market owing to a mix of factors that include huge debts and boardroom tussles. With HiTV out, DStv dominance and predatory pricing thickened raising concerns among stakeholders that include regulators.

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) had in February 2016 issued a directive to MultiChoice Nigeria, owners of DStv, on the need to be flexible on its dealings with subscribers after investigations by CPC confirmed the allegations of violations of consumers’ rights leveled against MultiChoice Nigeria in the delivery of its service. However, after the order, subscribers to DStv service were still agitating for the better service experience.

As the competition hots up, some Nigerians are skeptical that DSTV may be plotting a strategy that may end up boxing TStv to a tight corner; the first gainer of the tax free scheme of the federal government in the industry.

But the innovation to have a home-grown digital satellite service came from a serious solution finding exploits of African Health Television, hence her official launch has been fixed for 1st October, 2017 to share in the significance of a new nation with aspirations for genuine change and development. The harsh economic realities in Nigeria have prompted the initiators to share in finding solutions to ameliorate the high rate of unemployment. It was only recently that the National Bureau of Statistics released a disheartening report of the rising rate of unemployment. In fact, unemployment had risen to 14.2% at the time of the report.

Speaking on the prospect of TSTV, Bright Echefu, TSTV Managing Director/CEO said: “Our vision is to provide premium video experience to Nigerians at affordable prices. Our services will enable the viewers to experience HD and SD video and internet surfing at the same time. We are the first indigenous local operator in the region to launch such a premium platform with a variety of services to Nigerians, who have been so far paying exorbitant prices to foreign operators.”

“For most Nigerians, multi-channel TV is a big dream. Apart from Nigerians living in Lagos, Abuja, and maybe Port Harcourt, most Nigerians have access to less than five free terrestrial TV channels. This means that most Nigerians rely on terrestrial, satellite, or cable Direct-to-Home DTH TV for multi-channel TV.”

Also speaking, Head of Corporate Communications, Magu Ugo, said, TSTV is a Nigerian story told to Nigerians by Nigerians. “Therefore, we are 24 hours available for Nigerians. We can be reached via our website portal and social media handles. Our phone numbers are displayed on these online portals,” he added.

What Nigerians say about TSTV

Expectedly, Nigerians have are already upbeat about the new cable TV considering the different bouquet of services it has to offer.

In the view of Sunday Emmanuel TSTV holds a lot of promises. “I don’t know if TSTV will be another HiTv but when they launch I am buying it. If for nothing else, to contribute to shaking up DSTV a bit” Uche Eze   also “Dear Nigerians, let’s support TSTV to give DSTV a good competition. Buy Naija to grow the Naira.”

“I cannot wait to subscribe to this new service. For me and many of the people on my street, it’s a decision borne more out of saving cost in this period of recession. It’s not even about the extras,” said one subscriber in Lagos. TStv is launching spontaneously in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Abuja.

The new TV station with Hybrid Broadcast Broadband (HBB) technology combines satellite internet and TV services. It also allows consumers to pause subscriptions for a period of seven days every month among other mouth-watering features.

Completion has its advantages after all

As to be expected DSTV has tried to up their game in the face of potential competition as a few days back they announced a Pay-as-you-go idea. It has since remained an Idea and has not been implemented as yet.

DSTV customers think it is great that they get healthy competition and are hoping they shake things up and up their game. Others are just excited that TSTV is Nigerian owned. Here are trending tweets on the matter.

With the announcement of the new TV provider entering the market with the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband (HBB) technology that combines both satellite and internet service for TV services, DStv is re-strategizing to sustain its market share. Already it is planning to adopt the PAYG offering, although it’s yet to be implemented.

Its subscription charges are in sharp contrasts to Multichoice DStv’s pricing as its subscription charges ranges from as low as N3000, N1500, N1000, N500 to N200 depending on the users’ choice and consumption. The TStv decoder is available for N5000 and has between 100-150 TV channels.

Its sports channels include Star Sports, Fox Sports, Euro Sports News, Euro Sports 2, Kwese Sports 1, Kwese Free, Kwese ESPN, Bein Sports MAX 4HD, being Sports 3HD, being Sports Global, bein Sports MAX (being Sports 1-10), TS Sports 4 HD, TS Sports 2, TS Sports 3 and Yolo Sports HD, while its music channels include Trace Urban/Africa, HITS TV, MTV Base, TLC (HD).

Its news channels are BBC America, CNBC, Aljazeera, BBC Radio 2,TVC News, Sky News,Arewa24,AIT,Core TV News, France 24 (English),CCTV News, Channels TV, Bloomberg Television, DW, Fox News, TRT World, Press TV, NTA, Arise News and TV360 Nigeria, while its movie channels are Star Movies, MBC Action, MBC 2, Star Movies, African Movie Channel Series (African Magic), Liberty TV, MBC, Wazobia TV, and WAP TV.

Others are Viasat Life, Fine Living, FOX, FOX Life, Investigation Discovery, MBC 4, MBox HD, PCTV, Star Gold HD, Nollywood TV, Z Cinema, E Entertainment, BEN Bridging The Gap, BET, TS Novella, TS Movies HD and TS Series. It also boasts of nine kiddies channels, five science channels, two fashion channels, six religion channels and five Africa channels.

Is DSTV monopoly under threat?

Since DStv debuted 22 years ago, it has set the tone for the market unchallenged. That may finally be altered if TStv manage stay firm up its presence

MultiChoice, owner of DStv, a brand with over 1,649,000 subscribers in Nigeria has enjoyed a near monopoly of the Pay TV platform, relying on its dominance of the European sporting world to hold sway as the country’s favorite.

Many rivals had come, and fallen by the way side, while few are still struggling to stand segment competition. In terms of cost, DStv’s subscription is expensive. The cheapest package (DStv access) costs N1,900 per month, but the channels are limited. The most expensive bouquet with all the channels costs #14,700 per month. However, unlike DStv, TStv offers a pay-as-you-go, allowing subscribers to pay for what they consume.

TStv package

With start-up of 70 premium channels and a maximum subscription fee of N3, 000, while also accommodating as low as N200 and N500 for a period of time, TStv is certainly out to give DStv a run for its money.

TSTV’s initial subscription cost, including a decoder, a dish and a remote control, is N5, 000. Another added advantage coming with the subscription is that after buying the decoder, subscribers will get up to 20GB of data as bonus, while subsequent full monthly subscription through e-payment platform will come with 10GB of data.

The Pay TV decoder also comes with PVR (Personal Video Recorder) Decoder which allowed viewers greater control over their viewing experience with functions like pause, rewind, forward, save and record of programmes of interest, features regarded as luxury with DStv.

Subscribers will also get complimentary internet service, enabled Wi-Fi, as well as video calls and video conferencing services.

However, the critical subscription platform many Nigerians are looking for which is Pay-Per-View seems to be lacking in TStv as what obtains in the new company offering is Pay As You Go which can only allow subscribers a limited option to pause their subscription when not in use for not more than seven days in a month, thus extending at most, 37 days monthly subscription.

It will be recalled that the federal government had penultimate Sunday during the flag off of the TStv transmission in Abuja, announced the concession of three-year tax relief to the new platform.

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the unveiling of TStv would totally redefine the pay per view platform and, by extension, the television industry, by making it possible for people in all segments of society to enjoy high quality entertainment.

He said what TStv has done is to democratise the media and entertainment industry and make it possible for all to have access to the best entertainment in the world. “Just like a Nigerian also made history by crashing the cost of telephony in Nigeria, I am glad that another Nigerian is now coming forward also to crash the price of Pay TV.”

Experts comment

According to pay TV expert, Adedayo Thomas, DStv is reworking its market strategies as a big competitor TStv payTV market by which was launch in October 1. TStv coming to market with low entry and subscription costs as well as a pay as you watch option that may put DStv at the losing end of the competition. TStv also has a 20g wifi carrot for subscribers to push Nigeria’s consumers’ television experience further into the IoT (Internet of Things) realm.

One insider says DStv is studying the market and watching to see how the market reacts to TStv “juicy entry before it matches up with its own incredible offers.”

For DStv, it will be both a struggle to maintain its market share and a dominance it has enjoyed for decades with little or no challenge. The attempt by High Television (HiTV) to break that challenge some years back ended in fiasco as HiTV exited the market with huge debt amidst boardroom tussles.

Other cable TV or direct to home (DTH) service providers like Start Times only managed to take a small space in the market constituting no threat to DStv’s dominance.

The new TV provider which is already beating gongs and drums of its entry is exciting the market with its Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) offerings, to give subscribers up to 200% savings on their monthly satellite TV budget.

“The buzz really is on how the new entrant will be able to match DStv’s competitive advantage on the diversification of its broadcast contents and its ability to position itself as the provider of wholesome family entertainment with interesting tag line that only recently change from ‘So much more’ to ‘Feel Every Moment. DStv has amazing content profile and it appears TStv is aiming to match that content advantage and at a very low price,” said one broadcast expert in Abuja, Jibola Adewuye.

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Posted on Oct 8, 2017 - Last updated on Oct 8, 2017
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