Digital Satellite Television (DStv), Startimes and other Cable television service providers in Nigeria will be investigated as their subscription plans come under scrutiny again following demand for ‘Pay Per View’ by Nigerian subscribers.
The current monthly subscription plan was criticised by the House of Representatives, as the lawmakers accused MultiChoice’s DSTV of cheating its subscribers by offering prepaid plan rather than the ‘Pay Per View’ subscription plan.
This made the House of Reps resolve to probe the operators of the cable television service providers after unanimously adopting a motion moved by Unyime Idem titled ‘Call on MultiChoice Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) and Other Service Providers to Introduce the Pay as You Go Tariff (PAYG) Plan.’
The House of Reps set up an ad hoc committee which will invite Federal Government agencies regulating the industry, including the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy over the matter.
Why the clamour for Pay Per View? Nigeria has poor electricity supply, so the prepaid or monthly subscription plan is not fully utilised by subscribers of DStv and StarTimes. In order to enjoy the subscription, subscribers have to spend extra on alternative source of power supply.
The erratic power supply is one of the reasons that have affected the penetration of cable television in Nigeria, struggling to surpass the over 2 million subscribers in a country with about 200 million. In Nigeria, over $14 million is spent on generator and fuel annually.
Also, the likes of DStv charge operators of viewing centres extra for public use and the operators have to depend on generators to run their football viewing centers. Basically, operators of the viewing centres believe they are working for the cable service providers. Pay Per View will limit the cost of subscription, which means subscribers can only be charged for content watched.
More clampdown on cable operators: The Nigerian government has also resolved to strip cable television of exclusive right to content, ensuring content will be available for more than two cable service.
This means the exclusive right to football leagues, sports, foreign dramas and other consumer-driven contents will not be owned by one cable television company.
A company representative explained that there are misconceptions about what Pay per view really means. Contrary to general belief, the Multichoice representative said pay per view does not necessarily enable customers to match their TV consumption to subscription as it is the case with electricity metering and mobile telephony.
Instead, pay per view only applies to a one-off broadcast of high stakes games such as football, boxing, and wrestling matches, the company spokesperson claimed.
“It is a type of pay television service by which a subscriber of a television service provider can purchase events to view via private broadcast.”
Pay per View service can be purchased via a cable or satellite TV provider as a non-refundable separate package in addition to a pre-existing subscription. An example of pay per view in action was the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, aptly dubbed ‘The Money Fight’. In this case, subscribers had to each pay up to $100 for the bout in the US, and watch or not, the subscription ended with the 10 round fight.
“We broadcast the same boxing match to our Premium subscribers at no extra cost, and those who have Exploras were able to record the match and re-watch at another time. It is important to state that it is an expensive service to subscribe to. To date, no pay-TV operation globally has a model based solely on a pay as you view, as it is not a viable business model,” she added.