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Pay-as-you-go Vs Pay-per-view: Do We Know What We Really Want?

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Gabriel Ntoka

In recent weeks, the debate concerning the billing model for the pay-television industry in Nigeria has shifted to the lack of implementation of the pay-per-view (PPV) billing model. This issue has, undeniably, dominated discussions in both the traditional and social media, particularly because of the profile of individuals that have expressed their position on the issue.

Some political office holders such as Hon. Unyime Idem, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Communication and Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, have both advocated and insisted that pay-TV operators ditch the monthly bundling model for PPV. The duo alongside other advocates have claimed that the PPV model is in widespread use in various countries, adding that subscribers can select channels they prefer to view and pay for daily, weekly or bi-monthly packages, similar to the billing system the telecommunications industry. They also claimed that the advocated model would provide an affordable option for poor Nigerians and reduce money spent on subscription, even when the service is not used due to the erratic nature of power supply in the country.

But the claims of PPV advocates in Nigeria just barely scratches the surface regarding the issue. In the promotion of their agenda, the campaigners did not disclose the full implications of the PPV implementation on Nigerian subscribers. The PPV model cannot be and is falsely equated to the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) system operational in the telecommunications industry.

It is instructive to note that the PAYG model is not operational in the pay-TV industry anywhere in the world. Telephone users are being billed for the time used for a phone call, hence the usage of the PAYG model in the telecommunications sector. The claim that viewers are only billed for the amount of time when the television is switched on in other climes as preposterously declared by the PAYG advocates is nothing but a creation of false impression, thereby misleading the Nigerian public. This is because content, and not time, is the currency bought by pay-TV operators. Therefore, the pay-TV’s industry billing system, for all intents and purposes, cannot be equated to that of the telcos.

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Furthermore, it is not difficult to grasp while timing is not used as a billing metrics in pay-TV. The technology used in Pay-TV broadcast transmits signal in one direction: directly to the decoder; not to the operator. What this means is the pay-TV operator is unable to know whether or not a subscriber is watching.

However, the real pay-per-view model that is intended to be advocated by the campaigners as is a billing system which allows subscribers to pay a ONE-TIME fee view the broadcast of high-priced programmes that include feature films, and one-off live sporting and entertainment events. It can be described as a la carte – a system in which customers subscribe to individual channels or programmes.

So, if subscribers in Nigeria want to get access to their preferred channels or programmes as it is done in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and some parts of Europe, they must pay a one-off payment fee. For example, the comeback bout between two boxing legends, “Iron” Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr., is billed to air on PPV in the US at $49.99, which is approximately N19,996 (using interbank rates).

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The aforementioned amount is the premium price just for a single event, not a monthly subscription fee that the price bundling option provides! About 82.9 million Nigerians spend less than $1 on basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, health, education, electricity, and security. If the bout is to be broadcast via PPV in Nigeria, that price would be ridiculous for an average Nigerian subscriber to pay as it is ultra-expensive. And there is no guarantee that the two old men will even last the scheduled eight rounds of their anticipated clash in the US state of California on 12 September. The subscriber cannot request a refund even if he or she perceives that time spent on watching the forthcoming bout was underutilised or the value sought for was not attained.

Another example of the astronomical price of PPV was the heavyweight boxing title rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in February 2020. The bout was billed at $79.99 (High Definition), approximately N31,516; and $69.99 (Standard Definition), approximately N27,576, in the US. The bout also cost £61 (HD), approximately N30,683, and £53 (SD) N26,659, in the UK.

In 2017, the exhibition boxing bout between a former boxer, Floyd Mayweather, and retired Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Connor McGregor, was sold to PPV subscribers in the US at $99.99 (HD) and $89.99 (SD). Similarly, the blockbuster boxing clash between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was sold for $99.5.

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Again, what the vociferous advocates of PPV failed to mention for a subscriber to view for an event via PPV, he or she must, first of all, have an active subscription with the pay-TV operator. For example, anyone who wants to watch a live football match or a boxing bout via PPV, such subscriber must, first of all, have an active DStv Premium or StarTimes Super Bouquet packages (the two leading pay-TV operators in the country) before viewing these events. Meanwhile, the three above-mentioned fights already held were watched on DStv in Nigeria at no extra cost to subscribers. What is more: the PPV bill is not included in the normal subscription bill, as the subscriber must an additional bill for the PPV.

The reasons for the expensive cost of PPV is not farfetched. Factors such as the quality of programming, the cost of production, content right buying, sub-licensing and content marketing and distribution agreements determine the cost of PPV broadcasts. These factors vary across various countries, yet the price remains steep everywhere.

The price of PPV, as seen from the aforementioned countries, is double the price of the highest packages of the two leading pay-TV operators in the country. It is, therefore, not cheap for the Nigerian populace as claimed by its advocates. 

PPV is that fanciful service that a large number of working Nigerian adults would not be able to afford once implemented in the country.

Ntoka, a public commentator, writes from Lagos

Telecom

Making Sense of A Manual ‘Digital’ Directive

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Sim
By Elvis Eromosele

The COVID19 pandemic is not letting up. It continues to race and rage across the globe. With 92 million cases and almost two million deaths, one expects every hand to be on deck to curb the spread.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.

Yet in Nigeria where the second wave is blossoming crowds have besieged National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Offices across the country. The very thing that we are supposed to avoid – crowded place.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami is directly responsible for this crowd. In December 2020, he issued a directive that made it compulsory for all SIM cards to be linked to the National Identity Number (NIN). So, Nigerians from all walks of life who are yet to get the NIN are forced to visit NIMC offices in an attempt to get it.

The minister initially gave telecoms operators two weeks to link subscribers’ registered SIM cards on their networks to their NIN, which is currently being issued by the NIMC. The directive stated that the submission of NIN by subscribers must take place within two weeks, December 16, 2020, and end by December 30, 2020 – it has since been extended by six weeks following the public outcry. It also stated that after the deadline, all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.

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Well-meaning Nigerians have questioned the wisdom of the directive. Some have asked, “Must it be done right now in the midst of a global pandemic whose second wave is proving deadlier than the first?”

Clearly, the answer is No! It can wait. In fact, it should wait.

Some people have taken to blaming those who are rushing to obey the directive. There are missing the point. Nigerians are afraid to been cut off, of losing their lines and of being deprived of the link to the world. They have a right to be afraid. Today, connection is the currency of the information society, the lifeblood of the digital economy and the heart of the social age.

Naturally, any threat to cut off that connection would produce the crowd we are experiencing at the NIMC centres. Nobody wants to be cut off.

There is no surprise here. Today, nearly everything rides on the phone. Contacts, financial services, internet connection and even health care apps are all available on the smartphone.
Nobody wants to be cut off.
In over two decades of democracy in Nigeria, the most direct benefit to the masses of the country is access to mobile telephony. The liberalization of the telecommunications industry and the subsequent success of the auction of digital mobile licenses made telephone a thing for everyone.

Think about this, from less than 400, 000 connected lines in the year 2000, we now have over 200 million lines. The progress has been massive. Nearly everyone that wants can get a telephone line. Today, Nigeria has one of the largest telecom markets in Africa. Nobody wants to be cut off.

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In addition, the sector continues to generate humongous investments both foreign and domestic. Indeed, telecommunications investment has been identified as one with a strong potential to spur economic growth and create employment.

Within two decades, the telecom sector contribution to GDP grew from less than one per cent to over 10 per cent. The sector is resilient, capital intensive and tightly interwoven with every other sector. This interconnectedness is precisely why nobody wants to be cut off.

The good book says that “the law is made for man and not man for the law.” The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is insisting otherwise. He appears bent on carrying on with the exercise even though it is now obvious that the timing is wrong. The risk rises every single day the directive is in place. It is time to put it on hold.

Some have made excuses on the minister’s behalf. They say that before issuing the directive, he met with the CEOs of telcos and none raised any objection. This excuse is lame.

Who doesn’t know how Nigeria works? Nigerians are aware that you can’t contradict a ‘Nigerian big man’ unless you are ready for the backlash.

The telcos had little choice in the matter. This is all on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. He gave the directive and has refused to reconsider it

The whole idea of the digital economy is not only about nomenclature it is about agility. According to Wikipedia, “Business agility refers to the rapid, continuous, and systematic evolutionary adaptation and entrepreneurial innovation directed at gaining and maintaining competitive advantage.”

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Since the change of name of the ministry, it has shown little or no understanding of agility. This must change. The ministry should focus rather on a national database or establish the framework for the harmonization of the existing databases – SIM Registration, Voter Cards, NIN, BVN, Drivers’ License, International Passport.

The NIN and SIM link directive has today become a monster, a coronavirus super spreader. The Chinese say that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the next best time is today. The whole exercise ought to have been suspended two weeks ago, today is the next best time.

Dr. Pantami, Stop the NIN and SIM link directive now!

It has become a travesty. Is the linking of NIN and SIM important? Yes, by all means!
Must it be done now? No!

It is not a matter of life and death. Verification and harmonization can wait.

Coronavirus infection doesn’t give notice. It won’t wait. The crowd at NIMC Centres is not helping.

Suspend the directive. Put the process on hold. Let this COVID19 wave blow over. For genuine progress, directives must make sense in this digital economy.

Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.

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Banking

Verve Set To Hold ‘Good Life’ Promo Grand Prize Presentation Ceremony

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Verve International has fixed December 19, 2020 for the ceremony to present the grand prize to winners of its ongoing ‘Good Life’ promo, which kicked off in September 2020. 
The event will hold in Lagos where Verve will reward two lucky cardholders with the grand prize of N1 million each. 
The Verve ‘Good Life’ promo was launched to reward loyal Verve cardholders and enable them to live the good life, whatever the ‘good life’ means to them. Since the unveiling of the promo, several cardholders nationwide have won different monetary prizes and airtime credits from the over N27 million prize pot.
With two weeks plus left to the end of the promo, over 450 lucky customers still stand the chance to be among the winners of the monthly cash prize of N50,000, weekly cash prize of N10,000 and N5,000 airtime reward. Banking customers are advised to visit their respective banks to request for a Verve card while Verve cardholders are encouraged to use their cards frequently, to stand a chance to win.
Cherry Eromosele, the Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Interswitch Group, said that since the launch of the Verve ‘Good Life’ promo, the firm has stayed true to its words by consistently rewarding loyal cardholders across the country.
“We have certainly shown exemplary leadership by walking the talk with the Verve ‘Good Life’ promo. Since the launch of the promo, we have consistently rewarded our loyal customers with cash prizes and airtime,” Eromosele said.
She added: “As we draw closer to the end of the Verve Good Life promo, I urge everyone without a Verve card to visit their respective banks and  request for one, to stand a chance to win the grand prize of N1 million and other mouth-watering prizes.” She stated that Verve will continue to exploit reward programmes to appreciate and positively impact customers, while providing premium card services.  
To stand a chance to win the grand prize of N1 million, cardholders will have to use their cards 36 times across PoS terminals, ATMs, the web, or agent banking centres before the end of the promo on the December 13, 2020. To qualify for the weekly draw category, new and existing cardholders are expected to transact with their Verve cards at least three times in a week. For the monthly wins, cardholders will have to use their cards 12 times in the month to pay bills, transfer funds, recharge airtime, withdraw cash, etc. to stand a chance.    

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Brands and Company

GOtv Nigeria: For The Love Of Local Entertainment

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In two days, a new cooking and lifestyle show will debut on GOtv, the digital terrestrial television platform from MultiChoice Nigeria. 

Titled ‘Jollof With Me’, the show will feature media personality Nancy Isime hosting friends over a meal and some fun, light-hearted discussions. 

Viewers will learn new things about the guest through the conversations as well as the cocktail game that will see Isime make a cocktail that best describes the guest, her accuracy will be judged by the guest and viewers can catch all the fun and excitement on GOtv Channel 29 and on Africa Magic Family

‘Jollof With Me’ is one of the numerous ways MultiChoice is promoting Nigerian local content on its DTT platform. As aptly stated by John Ugbe, the Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria during the annual MultiChoice Media Showcase held virtually this year, the company’s booming success lies in its investment in local entertainment. Its mantra is to go hyper-local, reaching subscribers with content that resonates with their lifestyle and culture. However, GOtv goes the extra mile. Its large vault does not only boast of content variety but comes with a premium tag.

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Shows that are ordinarily accessible to big spenders are available to middle and low-income earners. For as little as N2,460, one can subscribe to GOtv Jolli, and gain access to over 50 channels that offer the best in sports, news, entertainment and lifestyle. This affordability is what positions GOtv as a top-of-the-mind recall for many Nigerians when it comes to local entertainment.

This year particularly has seen the brand offering the best of local entertainment to subscribers despite the uncertainties that clouded the early days of the capricious coronavirus pandemic.

From Big Brother Naija Lockdown season that shattered previous records of public votes with 900 million votes to the club-like show ‘Turn Up Friday’ and live party ‘Owambe Saturday’, the Pay-TV platform ensured that viewers stay entertained while on lockdown. The two music lifestyle shows are set to return this month with more party vibes and grooves for viewers to enjoy this festive period.

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Also, during the lockdown period, it showed its unwavering commitment to entertaining Nigerians with the campaign ‘We Dey Your Side’. Subscribers were entitled to an upgrade in their respective packages saving up to 75%. This afforded them the opportunity to watch the slew of Nollywood content available on Africa Magic Channels as well as upbeat Afrobeats music on music channels such as MTV Base Africa. Similar rewards are in the offing this festive season. The company recently announced a special price offer for the purchase of GOtv decoder, antenna and Jolli package for just N8,400, tagged GOtv Jolli Offer”

Beyond entertainment, GOtv which marked its presence in Nigeria in 2011, is very visible in the local sports entertainment sector. Through the GOtv Boxing Night, the brand has reignited a passion for the sports while placing African champions on the spotlight. For instance, the West African Boxing Union (WABU) welterweight champion, Rilwan ‘Real One’ Oladosu in a recent report expressed his enthusiasm that the African premier boxing show is returning for the 21st edition, happening today, Friday, November 27. It was scheduled earlier for April but due to the constraints of COVID-19, the show was postponed. Matches will be held under strict health guidelines at Rowe Park Sports Centre, Lagos and viewers can catch the heart racing actions on Super Sports Select 2.

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Arguably, the company which prides itself as a family-focused platform is geared to meet and exceed expectations of Nigerians in the TV entertainment landscape. Whether they are on GOtv Jolli package or GOtv Max package, the platform is guaranteeing nothing but doses of entertainment that suit their lifestyle. Simply put, they want you to ‘love it’.

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