Nigerian football lovers may have to say goodbye to the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League (EPL) on DSTV SuperSport after the 2020/21 football season ends.
MultiChoice, parent company of DSTV and SuperSport is barely making enough revenue from the venture when compared to the amount it spends to acquire broadcast rights for the competitions each season. To this end, Multichoice is considering not renewing the rights, according to THISDAY.
Renewing the broadcast rights to the EPL costs MultiChoice $250 million and an additional $100 million for the UEFA Champions League. In spite of the high number of MultiChoice subscribers in Nigeria, the Nigerian arm of the Group is not making enough profit from the venture which has become increasingly expensive.
The company used to obtain just one right to broadcast across the African continent but that is no longer the case since 2007 when Nigeria was separated from the rest of Africa in EPL marketing deals. This means that broadcast rights can be purchased for Nigeria alone, without having to purchase for the rest of the continent.
This is a segmentation that favours local broadcasters who want to purchase broadcasting rights to the football league for Nigeria only. Indeed the Federal Government tried to take advantage of the situation by pushing for local broadcasters like NTA to obtain EPL broadcast rights.
However, the continual devaluation of the Naira against the Dollar and the ever-increasing cost of obtaining the international rights are making the venture a lot less profitable for business, judging from MultiChoice’s case.
An anonymous source reportedly told THISDAY that since rights to broadcast in Nigeria became separated from the rest of Africa, things were bound to go wrong.
“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.This Day
“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,” a source told This Day.
2019 reports show that there was a 23% increase in the number of people/homes who subscribed to Satellite Pay TV like DSTV, Startimes etc. While more people are switching to Pay TV, it has not been an easy ride for the service providers who have tried to wrestle a bite of the market from DSTV.
The rocky terrain of PayTV providers in Nigeria
While Nigeria is the biggest market for TV in Africa, it hasn’t been a jolly ride for operators of PayTV who venture into the market. Kwese TV recently shutdown its Pay TV arm after wooing subscribers with its exclusive NBA and NFL contents.
The cost of maintaining broadcast rights demand that there be a huge and instant uptake in the number of subscribers, a feat that proved too tough for KweseTV. The PayTV was eventually forced to close shop after failing to meet multiple payments on broadcast rights.
Another competitor, OurTV, launched in May, 2020 with 17 channels and a one-time payment fee of N11,900 for the decoder itself. While it has no broadcast rights to any of the major sports competitions, its success is or failure is too early to predict.
While it does not require a monthly or annual subscription fee, the quality and quantity of its contents will determine if it will stand where others fell, or if it will be just one of many casualties.
TSTV launched its Pay Per View Satellite TV in 2017. Subscribers only had to pay N200 daily to access the service and were given a free allowance of 20 gigabytes of data. However, many problems and broken promises followed TSTV’s offer. First, it did not have enough decoders for the customers who wanted to buy.
Some of the few people who got TSTV decoders complained that the decoders were blacklisted as illegal viewers, meaning that TSTV did not obtain the appropriate permissions from media houses before broadcasting their content.
Premium sport is part of what gives DSTV its unique edge over competitors in Nigeria and football is the most popular sport in the country. This makes it a difficult choice for MultiChoice to make if eventually, it has to pick staying profitable over barely breaking even because of the high cost of broadcasting EPL and the UEFA competitions.
The lack of premium sports has contributed to the untimely demise of DSTV’s major competitors and it remains to be seen what strategies MultiChoice will put in place if it does not renew the broadcasting rights after the season is over.