MultiChoice seems to have been caught up in a difficult situation, the DSTV’s parent company is considering not to renew its premiership and UEFA Champions League broadcast rights when they expire.
ThisDay reported on Thursday that a source from the satellite TV company revealed how financial losses are forcing it to make the difficult decision not to renew for the 2021/22 football season.
The development was attributed to Nigerian business environment that has yielded low patronage, which does not make up for the cost of broadcast rights which the company said is exorbitant. Moreover, the free fall of naira against the dollar is said to have compounded the situation.
ThisDay quoted the source as saying: “It is becoming impossible to maintain many of these sports rights, especially the EPL, for Nigeria. The recent fall of the naira against the dollar has equally not helped matters.
“Rights for the African continent used to be bought singly, but this changed in 2007 when a competitor, backed by the federal government, forced the EPL to excise Nigeria from the rest of Africa. Now, the cost of the rights for Nigeria has risen to almost the same with the rest of the continent put together, while the number of subscribers in Nigeria is only about one quarter of the rest of the continent.”
Based on this statement, the DSTV has been operating on loss when it comes to football broadcast in Nigeria. The cost of rights for the EPL and UEFA Champions League is about $250 million and €100 million respectively. Paying the huge sum while making less every season has become a burden that MultiChoice needs to shed itself of to stay in business.
Among the factors that have contributed to the loss are the low cost of subscription by Nigerians for EPL and UEFA Champions League matches, and the number of subscribers onboard the football packages. The source said the cost of subscription in Nigeria is below par with other African countries, forcing MultiChoice to consider not renewing the rights for the sake of its survival.
“The cost of subscription in Nigeria continues to lag behind what is paid in the rest of Africa, especially in the face of the falling value of the naira. The company is approaching a situation in which it may be forced to choose between continuing to broadcast the EPL and its business survival,” the source told ThisDay.
While the development has been blamed on the cost of broadcast rights, Nigerian government’s meddlesomeness with the broadcast industry cannot be ignored.
On June 1, DSTV introduced new charges that will reflect the current realities of the situation, but the House of Representatives rejected the move and ordered them to reverse the charges citing COVID-19.
The chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on broadcasting, Unyime Idem said the increased charges are unacceptable in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and ordered DSTV to halt every plan they have for increment until further notice.
The Committee also asked the DSTV to implement pay-per-view that Nigerians have been praying for a long time. “We have already made the decision on pay as you go,” Idem told NBC acting chairman Armstrong Idachaba. “We are not here to negotiate; we are only here to inform you of our decision so that you can go and implement it.”
The Committee has been investigating the excesses of the satellite broadcasting company and expressed regret that Nigerians are bitterly complaining about their charges.
“I am sure you must have been hearing of the yearnings of Nigerians for years now, who are the subscribers to these services that they are not happy with the current services they are getting from the providers.
“They have been crying on a daily basis that they are not satisfied with the services they are getting from the providers in terms of high charges, price hike and, most importantly, considering what is obtainable in other countries of the world, that is pay-per-view offer that other countries are giving to their subscribers,” Idem said.
Apart from the issues of charges, the House Committee and the Ministry of Information and Culture have been bent on killing the right of exclusivity in the broadcasting industry. They said it has encouraged monopoly which has favored the DSTV and resulted in the untimely death of many satellite TVs of Nigerian origin that couldn’t compete.
Responding to the Committee’s queries, Idachaba acknowledged what DSTV had said, that Nigerians pay lower than others in other African countries.
Experts have urged the Nigerian government to cease interfering in broadcasting industry business, and allow market forces to determine the growth of the industry.
In less than ten years, three satellite TVS have come and gone in Nigeria: HiTV, TSTV and recently Kwese’. It appears that the DSTV is trying to avoid sharing the same fate.