Digital satellite television broadcasting debuted in Nigeria in 1994 and since then the sector has grown with many outfits now offering different programmes to an ever growing audience, who seem ready to gulp as many as they can get.
Such outfits as DSTV, StarTimes and recently Kwese have been the leading lights in the battle for the viewers’ attention, especially sports lovers, whose appetite for European football has fueled the rush for decoders.
DStv has held sway in the market for close to two decades, seeing off competition from such operators as HiTv and Daarsat. But that stranglehold on the Nigerian market is now being challenged by StarTimes and Kwese TV, which are relatively cheaper than the former.
Yet, DSTV is still the standard by which satellite television programming and content is judged.
The trio of broadcasters have all acquired rights to bring matches of the Russia 2018 World Cup to the homes of Nigerians, but the utilization of this right and the availability of the games to Nigerians may yet determine how Super Eagles’ fans follow their darling team for the one month the competition will last.
As is expected, the broadcast outfits have started reeling out features that should entice the viewers to stay with them throughout the World Cup and even beyond it.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Brands and Marketing Director of StarTimes, Qasim Elegbede, said the firm in its quest to continuously fulfill its commitment to deliver a fine mix of sporting events to its subscribers, acquired the World Cup right, which permits it to show the 2018 FIFA World Cup live from Russia.
‘’At StarTimes, we are extremely delighted to inform our subscribers that we have acquired the rights to show the 2018 FIFA World Cup live and we have lined up a lot of activities to make Nigerian fans have the best World Cup experience,” he said.
He added, “We have signed a long term deal with FIFA to show all their events and tournaments. And we are happy that we are delivering to Nigerians the best quality of sports content at the most affordable price because we are a customer-friendly operator. With StarTimes, football fans are the ultimate winners.’’
Elegbede bvelieves that the newfound form of the Super Eagles has made it more attractive to Nigerians, hence the hunger to watch the matches of the World Cup.
“Not a few pundits are tipping the Coach Gernot-tinkered side to soar high at the tournament, but I can assure you that Nigeria and Senegal are the two African teams with the highest chance of doing well at the World Cup in Russia.
“Rohr has done well with the team. We have a crop of players who are playing good football. The strength of the team is in the blend of the experienced hands with the young and promising talents. The players are young, daring, without fear, enterprising and have the can-do-spirit, needed to do wonders in Russia,” he said.
Senegal, he surmised, “Is the most complete African team in terms of talents at its disposal. It has top quality players playing in top leagues of Europe and the only thing it needs is to keep a calm head. Nigeria and Senegal have the ability to go as far as they can get. Granted that we have a good team but it is a little bit too early to start dreaming big and making bold predictions.”
With such potential to excel in Russia, Elegbede advised Nigerians to get their Startimes ready for a good ride in June and July.
“We have other programmes to keep our subscribers’ interested in the competition even on days there are no games. It is interesting that all of a sudden the world has taken notice of Nigeria and its exciting brand of football and we believe the Eagles can live up to the expectations. That is why we have lined up knowledgeable pundits to guide our subscribers through the matches.
“To get to the peak of their potential, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) must not allow the issue of bonus distract our players. I am not particularly impressed with the discordant tunes over bonus by the players and the NFF. We should learn from the past and avoid any banana peel that may cause our slip in Russia.”
Elegbede explained that the “World Cup is a long journey of seven matches to win the trophy and because we defeated Argentina in a friendly match does not mean we will defeat every team that come our way in Russia.”
He believes that StarTimes offers football fans cheap route to the games, adding, “Even when all is done, there are several other sport and football contents our subscribers can feed on.”
Also speaking on the World Cup and what football fans should expect from the broadcasters, Colin Udoh, who is a top official of Kwese TV, said the way the rights are structured this circle is that the only where it is exclusive is free to air.
He said, “With Pay TV in Nigeria for instance, DSTV, StarTimes and Kwese TV have the rights. Everybody can show all the 64 games on Pay TV. On free-to-air, it is exclusive to Kwese, but all the Pay TV has the right to show the games.
“You know the free to air reaches more people than cable. Even people in the villages have access to free-to-air television.
“Our business module is very unique such that we have both pay TV and free-to-air on the same platform. So, even if your subscription expires on pay TV you still have access to premium contents on free-to-air.
“What we are doing now is that we are partnering with AIT and NTA to show the matches on free-to-air because we have the right and they don’t have it. We want to ensure that everybody in Nigeria has the opportunity to follow the World Cup whether you have the money to pay or not.”
Udoh revealed that Kwese TV has one of the cheapest subscription regimes, saying, “the highest is N6,276 and with that you can watch everything.
“It is not structured in bouquets. If you want to pay for one month that is what you will pay. If you want to pay for seven days, it costs N1,890 and if you want to pay for three days, it costs you N990. Whatever you pay you have access to all the channels.”
At the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Multichoice, owner of DSTV and GOtv, was the major provider of the games of the Coupe du Mundo.
Aside the matches on the field, the outfit through SuperSports brought behind the scene actions to the viewers across the West Africa region. That is what the outfit is promising its subscribers despite the challenges from the new service providers.
According the Multichoice’s General Manager, Marketing, Martins Mabutho, “we will soon unveil our programme for the World Cup. But the way we do our thing is we take into consideration the needs of our subscribers and go the extra mile to fulfill that need.
“Our pundits are of the highest quality. And our subscribers can watch the matches on any of the bouquets on DSTV and GOTv on High Definition.
“Our viewing centres, you know we have partnerships with operators of viewing centres, will also show the games on high definition.
“We are looking beyond the games on the field; we will take some people to Russia to watch the matches.
“Aside the football, we have other things to offer the subscriber such that he will not be left with an empty box when the World Cup is done. In the coming days, Nigerians will get to know what they will get by sticking with DSTV.”