We are making FA Cup games accessible to our subscribers – Mabutho

Ahead of the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final games coming up this weekend, Martin Mabutho, GM Sales and Marketing, MultiChoice Nigeria, in an interview with BusinessDay Sports Analyst, Anthony Nlebem, speaks on plans to bring the matches live on DStv and GOtv to football loving fans and how the business has been striving amid Forex challenges. Excepts:


As a Man United fan, were you comfortable when the draws were made and United was picked against Chelsea, considering Chelsea’s current form?

The honest truth is that for a tournament like this, you never know who will win. Secondly, Chelsea is enjoying great form right now. They are like a run-away train. However, a league match is very different from a park encounter. Do I feel confident that we will reach the semi-final, I don’t know but I feel comfortable. I have to believe in my club but in all of this, Chelsea is looking really good right now.

Despite the economic situation, the price of GOtv has remained the same and yet MultiChoice has included the FA Cup matches in its lower bouquets. How have you been able to manage this?

About 12 months back, we rolled out our value strategy. We started with bringing back some of the key content down to the lower bouquets. Contents that were previously exclusive to our premium subscribers were brought down to bouquets that traditionally didn’t have it. In continuation with that strategy, the business decided that in as much as we brought down the premier league games to compact so that people could pay only N6,000 per month and receive those games, we will increase football content. This is why the campaign message is ‘football for all.’ Although this time around, we will not be increasing the EPL games.

For GOtv subscribers as well as for the Access and Family subscribers, they will also be getting great value at no additional cost. The Business realizes the need to be conscious of what is happening in the economy. I need to also state that should economic conditions continue to be as hard as they are, it is quite inevitable that that position might be revoked because ultimately, the business has to survive. If we are fortunate enough to be able to subsidize subscriptions, it cannot be forever. But ultimately, we will be forced to review prices upwards. I am hoping people will appreciate it. It may mean that we will either take football back to premium package, increase subscription or we take out the subsidy on the hardware, which has been so in the last two years.

Why is SuperSport not offering other football leagues matches like Bundesliga and Copa America?

One of the key factors in this industry is consumer feedback in terms of the popularity or the level of interest in a particular piece of content that we offer. We had Bundesliga for some years and our subscribers just didn’t like it. We brought the league here, we took some people out to go and watch the games in order to use that as a strategy to popularize the league but the numbers were just not justified. The decision was then reached for us to concentrate on what customers like and which is what we have now. All the best football leagues in the world can be found on DStv. I am not saying we have all the leagues in the world, for instance we don’t have MLX, and we don’t have the Chinese Super League even though the league has been generating a lot of interests’ due to players movement. For now we have that which is currently considered or rated as the best in the world. We also have the Champions league, the Premier league, the Nigerian Professional Football League and the South Africa Premier Soccer league. We have rights to all our Super Eagles games and rights to other sporting games.

Are there plans to add Chineese Super League to your content on SuperSport?

The team that buys rights continues to lookout for the best content. The hype around this league has mostly been around player movement.

What is the quality of play? We will be monitoring the league as it begins and we wish them the best. What is particularly interesting is that with the huge salaries involved, the money has to come from somewhere.

The more you pay the players, the more they charge the subscribers because the money has to come from somewhere. Money has to come from TV rights, advertising, etc. Let us see how it goes. For now, we have the best performing leagues.

What should fans expect from DStv in the FA Cup games?

The most important thing is making it accessible to as many people as possible. To achieve it, we have taken it down to our Access and Family bouquets as well as to GOtv.

It has never been done before and we are saying the league is hot; the cup running is hot so it cannot be a case where only a few people watch. Let’s put it inside people’s homes and bring it down to the lowest bouquet where you pay N1,800. In all honesty I think it is a fair game. If we divide N1,800 by 30 days, it means subscribers will be spending about N60 a day and getting access to matches that people in the UK pay much more for.

For those that are not part of our family, that is the new subscribers, we have also said we will give three months free access so that by May when the tournament ends, they would have practically watched all the games for free plus other content. All they need do is to pay for the DStv, which comes at just N9,100 plus a dish.

Lowering the barrier to access the content is what we have done.

Forex has been a challenge for some time now. How have you ben coping with this challenge?

 The truth is that even though we pay the rights owners every month by installments, the business does not operate in a vacuum.

If the savings or the subsidy that our holding company has been able to put into Nigeria and things continue to go down, I am sure the decision will be made to either stop giving access to the smaller bouquets or to increase subscription, which we haven’t done for the past two years.

Eventually, it may become inevitable to increase our subscriptions. Everything has gone up so TV subscription will have to go up.

How is DStv coping with competitors?

Our view has always been that we welcome competition because with competition two things will start to happen: One, the customers start to have the advantage of comparing and picking the one which they believe have the greatest value for money.

The customer says I am happy with the following three indices that I use to make my purchase decisions: Customer service is good, after-sales service is good and content is perfect. If that is what you check, then they are able to compare and contrast. Which one is most suited for my pocket and family? It caters for me, the children, the wife for everyone. Once you are satisfied, you make your decision and you pay every month.

Secondly, internally for us, it is a common knowledge that MultiChoice is a business that prides itself in great innovation. For us, our DNA is innovation; we innovate on strategies, hardware and so on.

How have activities of the competition affected business?

It’s affecting us every day. People say MultiChoice is a monopoly, but that is a wrong context of the use of the word ‘monopoly’. We might be the dominant player for multiple reasons but it doesn’t mean that all the homes are watching DStv. The market is big enough for all of us. We know that with the digital migration project, we will see a lot more other players coming on board. Some will be weaker than others and some will be stronger than others. That is the nature of the world.

 Do DStv have the EPL rights for 2017/2018 season?

Yes, we have the rights for the EPL matches for next season. The rights for the EPL matches are sold in two classes; there is the free-to-air package and the PayTV package.

We do not have the free-to-air rights, which is about 20 games or one game a season and not even a super match of the week. It is highly unlikely that you get a Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea, Tottenham matches. You may probably get a Portmouth or Hull matches. We have more games than they even show in the UK. If you travel to the UK, you will have to go to the pub if you want to watch a major game.

Have the NPFL gain tractions for your subscribers?

It’s been great; TV brings content that you do not have access to see due to distance or accessibility.

The quality of football in the Nigerian league have grown, scouts who want to see Nigerian players now have channels they can watch to see them play.

We have come a long way in pleasing families, it has not been easy but the positive feedbacks we get give us encouragement to improve on our services.


Anthony Nlebem

Twitter: @AnthonyNlebem