Followers of the English Premier League (EPL) and the UEFA Champions League in Nigeria might have to look elsewhere for their entertainment, as it has emerged that Multichoice, the parent company of DSTV and GOTV is seriously considering the possibility of dropping the EPL and Champions League broadcast rights in Nigeria.
In a report by Thisday Nigeria, it was revealed that Supersports, the broadcast right owner of the EPL in Nigeria and most of Africa, and Multichoice; the parent company of DSTV and GOTV are seriously considering dropping the broadcast rights to the EPL and the UEFA Champions League in Nigeria, to stay in business.
According to the report, Multichoice is struggling to make ends meet in the Nigerian market due to the market being excised from the rest of Africa and due to the low subscription cost in the Nigerian market.
To give you a context, in 2006, the Federal Government of Nigeria moved for the EPL to separate its broadcasting rights in Nigeria from the rest of Africa.
While that was done in good faith to help entrench democracy in the Nigerian pay-TV market, it also meant that any player who wants to broadcast EPL matches in Nigeria has to obtain broadcast rights for the rest of Africa, then obtain a right for Nigeria separately. Whereas previously, one only had to pay for a single license for Africa.
That duplicity of payment, therefore, means that for Multichoice to survive in the Nigerian market, it has to do either of two things; it can either increase the cost of subscription in the Nigerian market or it will have to let go of the rights- the latter option, as we have seen, is looking more likely.
Raising the cost of subscription in the Nigerian market now is something that is not quite feasible. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the West African nation, the general purchasing power has dropped drastically.
Add that to the fact that Multichoice Nigeria just increased tariffs for DSTV and GOTV in order to reflect the 7.5% VAT rate instituted by the federal government of Nigeria, and you will see that the company has a real dilemma on its hands when it comes to the possibility of bumping up subscription cost.
Moreso, in the wake of the recent tariff increase, many Nigerians have expressed displeasure, fuming at the decision to increase tariffs during a volatile time such as the pandemic.
In fact, the recent tariff increase led to DSTV being called an insensitive brand with many people pointing out that DSTV rates were already exorbitant. So you see, increasing subscription rates is not something that should be looked at in the nearest future.
The next option for Multichoice and Supersports to take in Nigeria is to drop the broadcasting rights for the EPL and the Champions League while focusing on other aspects of their business but even that is a difficult decision due to many factors involved.
In my personal experience, I have found out that many Nigerians actually think that Multichoice’s DSTV and GOTV are only worthwhile because they broadcast European football matches.
And while, I do not intend to use this post as an opportunity to lash out against Multichoice’s programming and value proposition as I have already covered that in this post, you will agree with me that both DSTV and GOTV channels have poor programming outside their football and music channels.
So, for Multichoice, dropping the rights of the EPL and the Champions League is in so many ways, a seat on the proverbial gunpowder.
The way forward
Multichoice has to be creative in order to navigate these waters. The answer to their problems in the Nigerian market probably depends on them signing strategic partnerships and delivering content that will stimulate the local audience.
Strategic partnerships might work for them if they relicense the EPL broadcasting rights to local TV stations who will, in turn, broadcast the matches to their audience. But there’s an issue that must be resolved here; if Nigerians can watch these matches elsewhere, why should they pay for DSTV or GOTV?
Another way that DSTV can solve this quagmire is for the network to emphasize more on content that is useful to the local audience.
I have heard and seen it many-a-times that Multichoice channels repeat programmes way too often, and they don’t innovate when it comes to local content. Africa Magic for example only shows old movies with no real efforts to acquire and broadcast movies that are interesting to viewers.
If these issues are resolved quickly with the audience in mind, then the network might be able to increase the cost of subscription without necessarily upsetting their customers.
Moreso, a thorough educational campaign must be engaged to explain to the customers why Multichoice needs to increase their tariffs. Otherwise, it might be time for the brand to pull out of its biggest market in Africa.