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‘Customers are at the heart of our business and drive us to do better’

DStv recently won the most admired Media Brand in Africa in the recent Africa Best Brands Awards. John Ugbe, managing director for MultiChoice Nigeria speaks with ANTHONY NLEBEM on Pay TV business in Nigeria amid a tough operating environment. Excerpts:


DStv was recently awarded the Most Admired African Brand in Nigeria by Brand Africa. How has the brand been able to maintain leadership in the Nigerian market?

We have been in Nigeria for close to three decades and we started from having a single channel to the multi-channel strategy we now run.

MultiChoice is a dynamic business that is built on innovation both technologically and in the way we serve our customers. Our customers are at the heart of our business and they drive us to do better on an ongoing basis. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to improve our customers’ overall experiences with quality products and services.


DStv new packages have become a form of succour for the middle and low-income earners in Nigeria. At what point did the company realise that it was necessary to make the move/capture that market?

We are constantly driven to ensure that customers are satisfied with the overall quality of our services. The new packages are exclusively curated from Naija, for Nigerians based on customer feedback, and driven by great programming and affordable prices. We wanted to make options available to our valued customers so that they can choose a subscription plan that best fits their needs and budget.


We know how competitive the market is now, and how difficult is it to achieve customer loyalty. What are some of the steps the business is taking to consolidate its position as one of the most admired brands in Africa?

For us at MultiChoice, there are certain fundamentals we don’t compromise because we know if we keep those elements in focus and stay consistent, we’ll not only survive the business environment, we will thrive. Number one is keeping the customers at the centre of all we do from both the pricing and content standpoints. We are always listening to customer feedback, challenging and asking ourselves hard questions on how to delight our customers. So we focus on getting the best content and constantly evolving with technological innovation.


DStv is home to some of the favourite channels and programs. How has the business been able to create content that resonates with Nigerian audiences consistently? What is the secret?

Data and customer feedback, both of which provide insight into what people want and how they want it. We cater to the market not only from a pricing perspective—we have a variety of subscriptions, from affordable to premium, so that we do not leave anyone out—but also by taking region and language into consideration.

We have AfricaMagic channels in Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. We also study the trends, establish what needs there are, and introduce programmes that meet our audience’s demands.

We are also blessed to have a multicultural and diverse country like Nigeria that is so rich with history, culture and tradition. This diversity constantly inspires great storytelling. We are also blessed to be surrounded by a great number of creative talent that are available to develop and produce these stories.


It’s been close to three decades since MultiChoice began operations in Nigeria, how has the business evolved to its current stage?

MultiChoice Nigeria has been in the country for 27 years and from the beginning, we believed in bringing the best entertainment to people’s screens. We are a video entertainment company, so even if it meant initially bringing in foreign content, we then started developing much more locally produced content—music, movies, sports—that meet international standards. Over the years, we have been able to build a local business, one that both imports and exports content.


Corporate Social Responsibility is a key part of the MultiChoice brand, what are some of the CSR initiatives the company has launched in recent times?

MultiChoice has consistently leveraged on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities to connect with the market and enrich lives. Our corporate focus is to positively impact and enrich the lives of our audience through the work that we do. During the outbreak of this Covid-19 crisis, we committed N1.2 billion to support Nigeria in fighting the deadly virus through donations to the Federal and State governments, broadcasting public service announcements across the continent in English, Pidgin, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa and also airing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC’s) helplines across 10 channels on DStv and GOtv.

We also went a step further by opening Free-to-Air stations so that subscribers can watch even when their subscription ends and launched the Hallelujah, Easter and Sunna channels to ensure that during this era of social distancing, various faiths could still worship from the comfort of their homes.


The recently held Hope for Africa Benefit Concert by One Africa Global Foundation in partnership with MultiChoice to raise funds for medical practitioners and support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa was a success. What informed the partnership?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many and disrupted economic activity, increasing the threat to food security and children’s survival and wellbeing. As Africa’s biggest storyteller, we are committed to giving back to the communities where we operate by using the power of entertainment to give hope, enrich lives, and bring people together especially during these uniquely difficult times.

The concert was important not just because we are raising funds for frontline health workers, but it is also a reminder that we are one and all in this together.

John Ugbe, managing director for MultiChoice Nigeria

Nigerians as a people are known globally to be passionate sports fans. Their passion for the European football leagues especially is second to none on the continent. How has MultiChoice as a business contributed to the development of sports in the country?

We have developed various sports over the years. For the Nigerian League, we invested an average of Seventy Million Dollars ($70m) for about seven years, in developing the league, while also commissioning experts in the field to build capacity for its administration. An overture that continues to be beneficial to the industry to date. We also made it possible for our local leagues to be watched on SuperSport across the country, growing audiences and love for the sport in Nigeria. We have made significant investments to encourage the development of sports, such as Basketball, GOtv Boxing, and through Let’s Play, Football, Cricket and Rugby.   We will continue to make great entertainment more accessible to Nigerians by delivering quality sports and local content to our customers



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