Pay TVs in Price Wars

Pay television service providers have slashed prices for the festive season, and are preparing for the competition that might come with digital migration, leading players in the industry have explained.

In the last three weeks, major pay television operators such as MultiChoice Uganda, which owns DStv and GOtv, StarTimes and Azam TV have all announced reduced prices and freebies for their decoders and subscriptions on different packages.

MultiChoice, the pioneer pay-TV firm in Uganda, led the way by slashing the price of its DStv Explorer decoders to Shs 575,000, from Shs 985,000 per set, which includes a dish and installation. GOtv decoders have gone down to Shs 79,000 from Shs 114,000.

StarTimes are giving free decoders through a 40-day promotion for new customers who pay a two-month aance (Sh 33,000 each) subscription for the 55 channels on the Classic Bouquet on DTT (antenna powered) platform. While subscribers who pay three months’ subscription (Shs 150,000) for the Smart package on the satellite (dish-powered) platform get free fully-connected sets (dish and decoder).

Azam TV, which is owned by Tanzania-based Bakhresa group and only launched into the Ugandan market three months ago, has also cut the price of its HD decoder and dish installation package from Shs 250,000 to Shs 145,000. Azam TV customers pay a flat rate of Shs 25,000 per month for more than 50 channels.

While announcing the price reductions last Friday (November 28), Simon Arineitwe, the general manager of Azam TV Uganda, said their promotion would run up to December 31. He said despite being new players in the market, the demand for decoders is high and they have, therefore, decided to make it cheaper for more Ugandans to get connected to digital television before the June 2015 deadline.

“We want every home to have a digital set,” Arineitwe said, and added that Azam TV had partnered with local solar power firm, Power and Communications Systems Ltd, to provide solar connections for its customers who are not on the national grid.

StarTimes’ Marketing Director Aldrine Nsubuga said their campaign was one of the ways through which they are seeking to get people ready for digital migration, which will make it mandatory for every television set owner to have decoders before June next year.

“Digital migration comes with the commonly known befits like delivery of more channels per frequency, clearer images and sound. On top of that, companies will gain large economies of scale, increased returns on investments, a higher rate of turnover that will reduce charges by at least 15 per cent in the first year,” Nsubuga said after unveiling their promotion on November 27.

State of pay TV:

According to figures from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the country has three million television set owners, with 90 per cent of television viewers still on analogue. Only 400,000 viewers are on pay television service.

Major players in the market such as MultiChoice and StarTimes, offering both DTT and satellite transmission services, have a combined 85 per cent market share. Chinese firm, StarTimes, which launched operations in 2008, has grown its clientele to 230,000 customers, according to the company, because of offering friendly subscription packages that range from as low as Shs 18,000 per month and cheap decoders at Shs 60,000.

However, experts say that the majority of Ugandans cannot afford the high installation costs and monthly subscription, which still makes pay-TV penetration low. As part of the initial phase in implementing the digital migration project, UCC has already switched off Kampala, Wakiso, Buikwe, Nakasongola and Mityana districts.

Source : The Observer

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